Think about any SUV TV commercial from two decades ago. Chances are it featured a blocky truck tearing through muddy puddles along a wooded trail while promising go-anywhere capability. However, most people don't traipse through underbrush on their way to work, and automakers have increasingly favored the on-road experience. But all is not lost for weekend adventurers. The 2018 Jeep Renegade proves you can have comfort and genuine off-road performance in a single, relatively affordable small SUV package.
The Renegade's off-road abilities make it unique in the rapidly growing subcompact SUV class, especially in Trailhawk guise. Its all-terrain tires, increased ride height and low-range four-wheel drive make it the gem in the lineup if you're ready to get a little dirty. Even the trims that aren't trail-rated — from the fire sale-priced Sport to the luxe Limited — can venture off the beaten path more comfortably than rivals.
But the Renegade isn't just for those looking to conquer the great outdoors. With the exception of the Trailhawk (its tires make the ride quite bumpy), the smallest Jeep is downright pleasurable to drive on the road. We think it's one of the standouts in the segment, whether you're keeping the tires on asphalt or trudging through mud.
The 2018 Jeep Renegade is a subcompact crossover with greater off-road abilities than any other vehicle in the class. It's sold in four trims: base Sport, the better-equipped Latitude, the trail-conquering Trailhawk and the luxurious Limited. Front-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel drive is optional on all trims except the Trailhawk, which is the only model outfitted with 4WD with a low-range setting.
The entry-level Sport model is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine (160 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque) paired exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission. Standard equipment includes 16-inch steel wheels, manually adjustable mirrors, remote locking and unlocking, push-button ignition, power windows and locks, a rearview camera, a height-adjustable driver seat, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, cloth upholstery, a removable cargo floor panel, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a driver information display, Bluetooth, a 5-inch touchscreen, and a six-speaker sound system with a USB port.
There are three primary features packages for the Renegade Sport. A Sport Appearance package adds alloy wheels, roof rails and privacy glass. The Power & Air Group package adds heated, power-adjustable outside mirrors, cruise control and air conditioning. Finally, the Uconnect 7.0 Group includes dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, a 7-inch touchscreen, and smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Latitude comes standard with those three packages, plus foglights, automatic headlights, body-colored door handles and mirrors, ambient LED lighting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an additional USB port. The Altitude package adds black exterior styling elements, 18-inch wheels, upgraded cloth upholstery and vinyl door trim.
Optional for both models is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder (180 hp, 175 lb-ft) paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The 2.4-liter engine comes standard on the Limited. The Limited also adds dual exhaust tips, automatic wipers, a windshield wiper de-icer, silver roof rails, keyless ignition and entry (with remote engine start), vinyl door trim, an upgraded driver information display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote engine start, a 115-volt household-style power outlet, leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with four-way power lumbar), heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, and a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat with a center pass-through.
The off-road-themed Trailhawk builds off the Latitude's feature set, with the 2.4-liter engine, 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, four-wheel drive with low-range settings, hill descent control, a raised suspension, tow hooks, underbody skid plates, a full-size spare, unique exterior and interior accents, all-season floor mats and upgraded cloth upholstery. It also includes some of the Limited's upgrades, including automatic wipers, vinyl door trim, an upgraded driver information display, the 115-volt outlet and a leather-wrapped shift knob.
Many features on the upper trims are available on lower models in a variety of option packages. Other notable packages include the Safety & Security Group (Latitude and above; adds xenon headlights, automatic wipers, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert), Advanced Technology Group (Latitude and Limited only; adds automatic high-beam control, rear parking sensors, lane departure warning and mitigation, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking) and Uconnect 8.4 NAV Group (Latitude and above; adds a navigation system, an 8.4-inch touchscreen, HD radio and the contents of the Uconnect 7.0 package).
Manually removable My Sky sunroofs can be ordered on all Renegades. Except on the Sport model, the front sunroof can also be power-operated. You can also get a nine-speaker Beats premium audio system on Renegades except the Sport model. A tow package is also available for Latitude models and above, providing you opt for four-wheel drive.