2021 Jeep Renegade

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Updated: November 16, 2020

2021 Jeep Renegade

The 2021 Jeep Renegade is the brand’s smallest SUV, but one that still emphasizes off-road capability despite its economy-car size.

The base engine is 2.4-liter inline-4 making 180 horsepower, which is adequate. The upgrade engine—optional on the Latitude model and standard on Trailhawk and Limited—is a 1.3-liter turbo-4 that’s better for its torque, and has 177 horsepower. Both engines are mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission.

Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive available. The Renegade’s independent suspension delivers a decent ride for a car so small.

Every Renegade gets Jeep’s signature looks: boxy profile, seven-slot grille, tall ride height. It seats up to five, but two fit better in back.

For 2021, automatic emergency braking becomes standard equipment on every model. And the base Sport gets air conditioning and power windows.

The EPA rates the Renegade with the base 2.4-liter engine at 22 mpg city, 30 highway, 25 combined with front-wheel drive, or 21/29/24 mpg with all-wheel drive. The 1.3-liter turbo-4 is rated at 24/32/27 mpg with front-wheel drive or 22/27/24 mpg with all-wheel drive.

The NHTSA gives the Renegade four stars overall for crash protection.

Model Lineup

The Renegade is available in Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk trims.

For about $24,000, the Sport comes with air conditioning, power windows, cloth seats, a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, 16-inch steel wheels, and automatic emergency braking.

The Latitude is available with the 1.3-liter turbo-4 engine, and comes with dual-zone climate control, 17-inch wheels, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, and more access to options including an 8.4-inch touchscreen.

The Limited and Trailhawk cost more than $30,000 and adds leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and the bigger touchscreen.

Exterior

The Renegade’s boxy shape displays all the familiar Jeep shapes, including the seven-slot grille flanked by round headlamps. The squared wheel arches and cladding look tough. The Jeep badge is slightly larger on the Renegade than any other Jeep, maybe because the vehicle itself is smaller.

Interior

The airy Renegade cabin also reflects Jeep heritage, with round air vents and practical bits like the shifter and terrain-selection knob. Most of the materials are high-quality, including soft-touch plastics and durable cloth upholstery on the Latitude. The Trailhawk uses a premium cloth and leather that’s visually interesting.

The front seats on all models are mostly comfortable and have good bolstering, although the headrest is small and flat. The rear seats only offer 35.1 inches of leg room, which isn’t enough for tall passengers.

There is 18.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, and nearly 51 cubes when it’s folded.

Driving Impressions

The base engine is a 2.4-liter inline-4 that makes 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission with front- or all-wheel drive. It’s enough power, but the engine is on the loud side, and the 9-speed sometimes hesitates before it chooses its next gear.

The 1.3-liter turbo-4 makes 177 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. It’s standard on the Trailhawk and Limited (optional on Latitude), and is easier to drive because of its low-end acceleration thanks to extra torque; that also makes it better for off-roading. It comes with the same 9-speed.

Despite the Renegade’s short wheelbase, the ride and handling are fine. It feels comfortable and calm.

The Trailhawk has upgraded mechanicals and a simulated low-range gearbox, to give it ample tug off road. The all-wheel-drive system can shuttle torque from front to rear up to 50-50, and the off-road control programs improve traction and grip.

Final Word

The 2021 Jeep Renegade puts off-road credentials into a small-SUV body, and scores with its style and its newly standard safety equipment. The engines offer moderate power, and the rear seat will be small for big passengers, but the Renegade can go places some crossovers never will see.

 

—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection