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Jeep’s ten-year-old boxy SUV is updated for 2024 - can it still keep up with the competition?

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A lot can change in ten years, but looking at the Jeep Renegade, which has just been updated for 2024, you’d be forgiven for thinking nothing has changed at all. 

It first went on sale in 2014 at a time when the market was flooded with a growing market of boxy crossover-hatchbacks, and before the arrival of the Jeep Avenger in 2023, the Renegade was Jeep’s first all-new model introduction for almost a decade. 

The Renegrade is full of visual references to Jeep’s history, with my favourite being the armrest cubby’s Moab desert

That wasn't the only 'first' in the Renagade's repertoire - it was the first Jeep ever to be built outside of the United States, and the brand’s first car to be born directly from the collaboration of American and European designers and engineers. 

In its second full calendar year on sale (2016), the Renegade turned Jeep into the 100,000-a-year player in the European car market it had previously only ever dreamed of becoming. 

The bonanza didn’t stop there. The firm broke through the 150,000-unit threshold in 2018, with 45% of its Continental sales volume coming from you know where. Now the car is leading Jeep into the electrified era.

The Jeep Renegade comes from a company that reaches back into its seven and half decades of 4x4-making history. Distinctiveness, character and capability are always a given with Jeep, but is the substance right? And is the execution still in tune with what buyers want from a crossover? 

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Some changes have been made for 2024, but the Jeep Renegade package is fundamentally the same as it was a decade ago. 

No changes have been made to the exterior, but Jeep’s decision not to significantly update the Renegade’s design was always a tactical one. By the brand’s own admission though, the model had fallen behind owing to its lack of technology. 

As part of this latest update, there’s a new infotainment system, plus some efficiency upgrades - but will they help the Renegade stand out among a host of more modern rivals? Let’s find out…

The Jeep Renegade range at a glance

The Jeep Renegade was previously offered with a selection of petrol engines, plus one diesel powertrain, but as of 2024 is exclusively electrified. 

The mildly electrified Renegade e-Hybrid opens the range, powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 128bhp and 177lb ft available. It’s assisted by a 20bhp electric motor and a 48V battery positioned between the two front seats. 

Next up is the Renegade 4XE, which pairs four-wheel drive with plug-in hybrid power. It’s driven by a 178bhp combustion engine, partnered with a 60bhp, 184lb ft electric motor and an 11.4kWh battery. Power stands at 237bhp in total, with around 21 miles of electric-only range.

VERSIONPOWER
1.5 T4 E-HYBRID 130HP DCT FWD128bhp
GSE T4 240HP AT PHEV 4xe237bhp

DESIGN & STYLING

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Jeep Renegade face

The Renegade’s European production base is the old Fiat Sata plant in Melfi, Italy. 

The facility is shared with the closely related Fiat 500X, but the Renegade is also more distantly related (via Fiat’s Small-Wide compact car platform) to the Fiat 500L and Fiat Tipo - both of which are no longer on sale. It shares its platform with the Fiat 500X and goes in search of a piece of the pie thus far enjoyed by the Mini CountrymanRenault Captur and Vauxhall Mokka – supermini-based small SUVs all.

A number of visual features pay homage to the Willy’s Jeep, such as the rear doors, rear lights and front grille

Like all other Jeeps save for the Jeep Wrangler, it has a unitary or monocoque chassis and independent suspension at all corners.

Unlike others, it’s pretty diminutive – only just over 4.2m long, with a wheelbase of less than 2.6m – although a full complement of four passenger doors and two rows of seats make it a reasonably practical proposition.

From 2018-2022, Jeep offered European buyers 1.0- and 1.3-litre petrol engines, in the latter case with and without turbocharging, with and without four-wheel drive, and developing up to 188bhp. A 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel was removed from the range in 2022.  

Now, the Renegade is simply offered in e-Hybrid guise with a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 128bhp and 177lb ft, assisted by a 20bhp electric motor and a 48V battery. 

The Renegade 4xe (pronounced ‘four-by-ee’) joins the range at the upper end of the buying spectrum. Its 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is ostensibly the same as you’ll find in other Renegades, but the driveline to the rear isn’t.

While the 4xe’s petrol engine drives the front wheels through a specially adapted six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, a mechanical four-wheel drive system is dispensed with and an ‘electric rear axle’ is adopted instead. 

This consists of a 60bhp, 184lb ft synchronous motor packaged over the rear axle and fed by an 11.4kWh drive battery that’s carried along the transmission tunnel immediately ahead of the 37-litre petrol tank.

As the ‘maximum capability’ version of the 4xe, the Trailhawk also gets 15mm more ground clearance than lesser trims, as well as underbody protection plates, M+S (mud and snow) tyres and the full range of electronically controlled, off-road-intended traction control and hill descent modes.

INTERIOR

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Jeep Renegade full front interior

Compact, boxy and pugnaciously cute as it may be, the Renegade just about counts as a proper four-seat, five-door family car. To squeeze three on its back seat would be a trial, but two younger adults fit just fine.

The relocation of the 12V battery to the side of the boot compartment, along with the packaging of the electric drive motor and power inverter under the floor, has affected boot capacity. 

Despite the seats not being all that comfy, there is plenty of adjustment with the Renegade’s

The storage space is a little narrow and shallow by class standards and there’s only 330 litres under the load-bay cover, which is a good deal less than even a Volkswagen Golf hatchback offers until you start folding seats and loading to the roof.

However, there is space for a full-sized spare wheel under the floor if you want one. If you don’t, the split-level boot floor makes the best of what storage volume there is.

The driving environment is quite distinctive, characterful and colourful in places, although some notable low points on perceived quality rather betray this Renegade’s status as ostensibly a pretty cheap crossover with an expensive powertrain.

Luckily for Jeep, its cars have always had functional cabins finished quite sparsely and with plain, tough materials.

The Renegade’s certainly feel quite plain; not always so tough or hard-wearing, though.

The shiny, wobbly mouldings used around the steering column are like those that other manufacturers only fit to prototypes. Elsewhere, flimsy, rough-feeling seat adjustment levers, dull-looking ‘leathers’, wobbly exterior mirrors and hollow-sounding doors might leave a slightly sour taste in your mouth.

The driving position is medium-high, granting good visibility in most directions, on a broadly comfortable driver’s seat that lacks some adjustability.

The secondary controls are chunkily proportioned. Having a good-sized scroll knob for the touchscreen infotainment system, for example, would be useful when driving in gloves or with dirty hands.

Jeep’s alterations to the instrument pack for the PHEV version of the Renegade didn’t seem to make quite so much sense to our testers. By removing the standard car’s analogue speedometer and replacing it with a fixed ‘power/ charging gauge’, it has taken away something useful and replaced it with something at least a bit superfluous.

Being told how hard the car’s powertrain is working or regenerating power at any one time seems a little needless when the position and action of your right foot can inform you just as well. 

That’s true, particularly considering that the digital speedometer that has been added is generally given too little prominence on the wider instrument layout, although that does depend on the display mode you’ve chosen for the slightly antiquated-looking digital trip computer.

Jeep Renegade 4xe infotainment and sat-nav

All Renegade models were previously offered with a 7.4in central driver display and an 8.4in ‘UConnect’ touchscreen with a factory navigation system, an in-car wi-fi hotspot and smartphone mirroring for both Apple and Android handsets. 

In 2024, the brand upgraded this system to a new, larger 10.1in touchscreen which ahs appeared in the larger, more premium Jeep Compass, paired with a 10.25 digital driver’s display behind the steering wheel. Both screens are 40% larger than before. 

There’s also a new USB port to fit both Type-A and Type-C connections, though the brand has also introduced wireless phone connectivity too, which is a big plus. 

The two new screens are a big upgrade compared to the previous system. Both are crisp and clear with minimal input lag and are very easy to use and customise to your liking, but they’re also a noticeable step up from the standard touchscreen system used in other Stellantis models. 

Thankfully, the brand has opted against removing rotary climate dials and buttons, which, when used in combination with the upgraded infotainment systems, make for a logical and easy-going user experience.

It’s a largely successful interior update, even if things can feel a bit cheap outside of those glitzy changes. The interior is still slightly basic-looking, though. 

There are built-in software app screens that allow you to manage the car’s charging preferences and to keep track of what it’s doing in its various off-roading modes; and if you download the UConnect app to your smartphone, you can connect to the car remotely to check its condition and prepare it for departure.

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

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2024 03 04 Jeep Renegade E Hybrid Dinamiche 001 HR (1)

Depending on which Renegade you choose, you’ll face two very different driving experiences, and the model’s engine line-up lacks consistency. 

Let’s start with the Renegade e-Hybrid. This powertrain allows electric-only driving at low speeds plus when reversing, creeping and starting up. 

The brake and clutch look quite small but don’t feel that way under your foot

With a 0-62mph sprint of 10.0sec, it’s not exactly quick, but this will be more than enough straight-line pace for most drivers. 

However, it’s a frustrating engine to use. It’s noisy, producing a gruff note, and the six-speed automatic gearbox is slow to change up or down, and it struggles with the switch to petrol from electric.

This lack of refinement is particularly evident at higher speeds, on the motorway for example, and it feels heavy on slower country roads.

Driving in town is a much more pleasant experience in the plug-in hybrid 4xe, which performs well when there is charge in its batteries.

At speeds of up to about 40mph, it’s very easy to avoid waking the combustion engine (you can simply select Electric driving mode to be sure not to) and there’s plenty of torque for nippy, enjoyable bursts of acceleration.

Seek to maintain the same nippiness between 30mph and 50mph, though, and the engine chimes in pretty frequently when you switch back to Hybrid mode. 

Above 50mph, that engine runs more often than not – and you’ll know when it is. The 1.3-litre petrol four-pot feels a little rough and sounds particularly noisy when working at revs, and there’s a slightly diesely clatter about it when warming up.

Our performance figures bear witness to a car that’s fairly assertive from low speeds, but a lot slower at motorway pace and beyond, when the electric motor has run out of gearing and effectively shut down. The 14.4sec the car needs to get from 60mph to 100mph is no quicker than a pretty average family hatch.

Jeep’s six-speed automatic transmission, meanwhile, does seek to present a consistent performance level by blending the combustive and electric power available under your foot, but it often does this by slipping and delaying the engagements of lower intermediate gears and it isn’t the most convincing juggling routine.

At times, particularly after the engine has just started, the 4xe’s accelerator pedal can feel numb and dead, and when running in E-Save mode (in which the petrol engine has to run as a charger for the drive battery while also providing motive power for the car), there’s a notable dullness and clunkiness about the powertrain’s responses.

RIDE & HANDLING

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Jeep Renegade face

There are a few notable dynamic compromises of the Renegade 4xe to acknowledge in this section, relative to a typical compact SUV – which the Jeep isn’t, needless to say.

You don’t produce genuine off-road ability in a 4x4 of this size and type without a permanently raised ride height or a set of tyres that, because they’re ready to deal with mud, grass and loose surfaces, don’t grip on dry asphalt as keenly as they otherwise might. 

The chassis is civilised enough to keep you comfy and secure, while gently reminding you that it’s ready for a sortie down a muddy track

Then, of course, you don’t leave the dynamic compromise you’ve already struck entirely unaffected when you add a couple of hundred kilograms into the car by way of batteries and electric motors.

Nobody would expect this car to handle like a Jaguar I-Pace, then, and although it’s a little rough and poorly resolved to drive in some ways, the Renegade’s handling isn’t objectionable, either. 

When we road tested the regular Jeep Renegade at the end of 2016, we reported that it had an “occasionally jostling, bumbling, firmly damped ride” and “slightly sticky, pendulous, over-assisted steering”, but it still handled inoffensively enough to satisfy those predisposed to its “throwback, proper off-roader” dynamic ethos.

The 4xe rings most of the same bells. It has a vaguely teetery-feeling, roll-happy sort of lateral body control, and a busy, occasionally fussy and pitching primary ride on cross-country A- and B-roads. 

That lateral body control imposes a natural speed limit on your cornering, although it needn’t necessarily be considered a restrictive one; and the primary ride can become a little tiresome on long motorway journeys, when the car’s body seldom settles for long, and on choppy B-road surfaces.

If you like the cut of this car’s jib, though – and this is quite an easy car to like – you’ll simply adapt to the Renegade’s way of doing things. However, it’s not like so many modern Land Rovers, whose off-road capabilities seem to come at little or no cost to on-road refinement or drivability.

The lightness and elasticity of the steering was a bigger bugbear for most testers than any of its other dynamic transgressions, because it makes the Renegade less intuitive to place than it need be. 

The car’s grip level may be only moderate during harder cornering, but its stability isn’t in question, the tyres and electronic stability controls neatly preventing you from putting the sort of lateral load into the chassis that would test its roll control to breaking point.

The way the electric rear axle keeps the chassis on line when you’re gently goading it through a corner, meanwhile, is quietly impressive – even if that clunky auto ’box can still cause waves of steering corruption when it decides to engage drive at the front axle as you exit a bend.

Comfort and isolation

Electric motors may not be noisy things, but boxy Jeeps with upright windscreens, big door mirrors and chunky tyres tend to be. Suffice to say, the Renegade doesn’t exactly sail along serenely even when its combustion engine is shut down. (It certainly doesn’t when it’s running.)

Our road test noise measurements were taken with the car in Hybrid mode and the petrol engine shut down at both 30mph and 50mph, and yet, at 50mph, plenty of petrol-engined family hatches we’ve tested recently run more quietly. T

he wing mirrors generate plenty of flutter and the door seals aren’t brilliant at shutting out the rush of the air.

There’s generous headroom in both rows of seats, although the front ones don’t have particularly supportive or adjustable cushions. Outright leg room is only average up front, while a lack of telescoping reach adjustment on the steering column will make the car less comfortable than bigger off- roaders for longer-legged drivers.

What's the Jeep Renegade like off-road?

In Trailhawk form, the Renegade offers plenty of off-road capability, although not so much that you couldn’t beat it with the right second- hand Land Rover or Toyota. The car’s near-30deg approach and departure angles are its best assets off road.

It actually has a lesser wading depth and only 5% more ground clearance than a Toyota RAV4 PHEV. Braked trailer towing capacity, at 1150kg, is also a little disappointing. The Renegade is designed to tolerate the odd light underbody grounding contact, but you’ll be surprised at the slopes and hollows it will tackle without grounding out.

The standard M+S tyres make for plenty of grip on mud, dirt and grass, and low-speed controllability is good in the more serious off-road driving modes, which desensitise the accelerator pedal usefully. The slightly spongy-feeling brake pedal can be a frustration both off the road and on it, though.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

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Jeep Renegade front driving

In the past, this is where the Renegade would have come unstuck, as its petrol and diesel engines of old were thirsty and uneconomical. But have things changed with this all-electrified line-up? 

Let’s start with pricing. The Jeep Renegade E-Hybrid commands a £30,500 pricetag, which appears expensive when compared to the Mini Countryman (£29,335) and the Audi Q2 (£29,680). 

CAP expects the Renegade to outperform the Nissan Qashqai in percentage terms over four years

That said, the equipment you get on the standard Altitude specification is comprehensive. It includes 17in alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, those two digital screens, a reversing camera, dual-zone air conditioning and a suite of safety technology. 

Mid-range Summit models add some appealing extras, including a leather heated steering wheel, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and front and rear parking sensors. 

If you’re into off-roading, Overland adds an off-road bumper, washable seats, higher ground clearance and a mode three charging cable (4xe only). 

Trailhawk, at the very top of the range, gets bespoke seats with red stitching, skid plates for the transmission, front suspension, fuel tank and transfer case, plus a terrain selection system, a red tow hook and all-season floor mats.

The Renegade 4xe kicks off from £38,000 - plenty of PHEV SUVs are pricier, like the Toyota CH-R at £39,145. However, the car’s limited inward practicality may not trick family buyers quite as easily.

Plenty of PHEV SUVs are pricier still, of course. And yet the Renegade 4xe doesn’t quite have the electric range it would need to squeeze into an 11% benefit-in-kind company car tax classification and to reach out as an outstanding fleet option, either.

As it is, the 14% bracketing of our test car still ought to appeal to plenty. But it does seem odd that Jeep isn’t offering a cheaper, sub-50g/km, road-tyred, mid-spec version of the Renegade 4xe that might bring its 237bhp hybrid powertrain to a wider fleet audience.

Electric range for the car proved to average around 21 miles on test – the kind of showing that we were used to from PHEVs five or 10 years ago but now looks a bit tokenistic and might be unlikely to drive down your monthly fuel budget too far.

Disappointing real-world fuel economy when the car is running on a depleted battery won’t do much to help there, either. You’ll do well to breach the 40mpg barrier on a long motorway cruise.

VERDICT

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Jeep Renegade static front

The Renegade's 2024 model refresh has been a success in some areas.

The interior upgrades are welcome for sure and its all-electrified line-up can offer some savings in the real world.

That said, driving the Renegade highlights some key dynamic setbacks that see the model drop further behind its rivals. It's not as comfortable as a Hyundai Kona hybrid, and the Ford Puma is in another league for handling and driving engagement.

The brand’s own Avenger e-Hybrid, arriving here in April, is a much more engaging steer and is cheaper and more economical to boot. 

Despite Jeep’s attempts to bring the Renegade into the modern age with some new technology, the boxy SUV remains off the pace and is more than feeling its age - but you shouldn't completely disregard it. 

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Jeep Renegade First drives