Jeep Renegade 2.0

MultiJet II Limited

Jeep Renegade, front
Jeep Renegade, front
Jeep Renegade, front
Jeep Renegade, front
Jeep Renegade, front
Jeep Renegade, side
Jeep Renegade, rear
Jeep Renegade, rear
Jeep Renegade, interior
Jeep Renegade, interior

JEEP'S legendary status as the original SUV manufacturer has faded in recent years and while rivals like Land Rover have dominated at the upper end of the market the seemingly unstoppable march of the crossover at the more mainstream end has also had an effect.

In a fast-changing and highly competitive automotive landscape the marque which started the SUV ball rolling with its Willys Jeep - famously used by the allies in the Second World War - could have been heading for the history books for a different reason.

Its biggest problem in recent times were the financial woes faced by parent company Chrysler Group.

That would now seem to be at an end with the completion of Fiat's gradual takeover of the once all powerful US firm - a process that got under way in 2009.

In terms of the Renegade it's a partnership that's proved vital to the continuation and evolution of the Jeep brand. It might seem hard to believe but this is the first all-new Jeep to break cover in almost a decade.

A number of other firsts also apply - it's the first Jeep produced jointly by Americans and Europeans and is also the first Jeep to be made outside the US - in Italy.

It's also a vital car for the brand going forward given the rise of the crossover and the fact that - until last year - Jeep wasn't really competing in this fast-growing segment.

Not surprisingly the Renegade sticks to a tried and tested SUV design blueprint.

This is no curvaceous crossover but rather a chunky and boxy 4x4 that shouts its utilitarian workhorse DNA.

It probably makes sense. People like a lot of things about crossovers but the higher driving position and a rugged SUV-style presence are key among them and the Renegade has both by the bucket-load.

It may be competing against cars like the Nissan Qashqai but it has much more of the look and feel of a ‘proper' SUV - even down to the way you feel like you really are stepping up to get into the cabin.

Compared to something like a Mazda CX-3 the Renegade is considerably higher and wider, even if it is shorter.

Its boxy styling might not look particularly aerodynamic but it also brings benefits in terms of practicality, with an open and roomy cabin, though the 351-litre boot isn't as big as some of its rivals.

In terms of in-car ergonomics it errs towards ruggedness rather than sophistication, though again that kind of fits with the brand.

Curiously there are subtle European flourishes here and there but essentially the Renegade is all-American when it comes to its styling on the inside.

So, does the Renegade offer the kind of off-road capability traditionally associated with a Jeep?

The answer is yes, but only higher up the range.

Engine choices include petrol units that range from 108 to 168bhp, while diesels range from 120 to 170bhp.

However, four-wheel drive is only available on 2.0-litre 140bhp diesel models upwards and no petrol models.

That in no way diminishes the appeal of the Renegade, many crossover buyers ultimately want a car that looks like an SUV but doesn't necessarily perform like one.

If you do demand four-wheel drive capability you won't be disappointed and the advanced system automatically switches between two and four-wheel drive in accordance with prevailing road and driving conditions.

Ride quality is decent and the Renegade is certainly a comfortable car to travel in on a variety of road surfaces.

Handling is acceptable rather than engaging - pretty much as one would expect in a car of this class and its added height does make for a little more pitch and roll if you start pushing it hard.

Given the sector it's competing in this high-spec model might seem pricey but an entry-level two-wheel drive petrol model will set you back £17,495, with the cheapest 120bhp diesel costing £21,195.

FAST FACTS

Jeep Renegade 2.0 MultiJet II Limited

Price: £28,295

Mechanical: 140bhp, 1,956cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 9-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 113mph

0-62mph: 10.2 seconds

Combined MPG:48.7

Insurance Group: 15

C02 emissions: 150g/km

Bik rating: 30%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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