Not that many years ago a phone was a phone. It had one job, make phone calls. Eventually the phone began evolving, adding features to transmit data and add functionality. Today, consumers equate the term “phone” with “tiny supercomputer with a hi-res camera.” Expectations are high; a lot is expected from something very tiny.
In many ways expectations in the small sport-utility vehicle marketplace mirror that of the cell phone. It is not enough to provide basic transportation, a SUV needs to be competent on the highway and around town, provide plenty of cargo space, entertainment, look great and not complain if you need to wander off-road during the family camping trip.
Manufacturers have raced to create the ultimate tiny SUV and much like the latest cell phones, offerings like the 2019 Jeep Renegade Limited have become the “does a little bit of everything” vehicle that many people need. Jeep’s name represents adventure lifestyle and off-road capability. Legendary models like the Wrangler can be seen tackling rocky crags and chugging through rivers unscathed. It only makes sense that Jeep’s smallest SUV should have mentionable 4×4 capabilities. However, the Renegade is better thought of as a purposeful daily driver for families who might, every once in a while, visit the drive-on beach.
Jeep’s refreshed 2019 Rengade is powered by a standard 2.4-liter four cylinder or an all-new 1.3-liter direct-injection turbocharged engine. Both engines send power through a 9-speed automatic transmission. Our Limited model gave us a chance to spend some time with the new turbo engine.
Engine and Transmission
Rated at 177 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque, the overachieving 1.3-liter powerplant is a nice match for the SUV. The engineers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) have worked their magic to dial in a wide powerband and rarely did the Jeep feel sluggish or overworked during the week long review period. Fuel economy is solid for a contender in the small 4×4 SUV marketplace, rated at 23 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined.
Our Limited model included the Jeep Selec-Terrain system which provided four different drive modes. While the majority of our time was spent in the “Auto” mode, the system has options for Snow, Sand and Mud. The closest we took the Renegade to “off-road” was parking on wet grass. Days of rain had created a situation where the normally firm ground had deceptively given way to six inches of mud. At the end of the day, the Renegade easily pulled out of the spot while the two vehicles parked on either side had to wait for a tow truck.
Our top-trim Limited model features leather seating and premium trim. Front seats are comfortable and supportive and it is relatively easy to find a comfortable driving position. Similar to the vast majority of small SUVs, the rear seating area is adequate for two adults or three small children. Cargo space is 18.5 cubic feet that can be expanded to 50.8 cubic feet when you include the rear seat area.
Our Limited model included FCA’s excellent Uconnect infotainment system. We have long been fans of the user friendly system, which we consider a benchmark for non-premium vehicles. The 8.4-inch touchscreen occupies a great deal of the dashboard area. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, HD Radio, Bluetooth connectivity and SiriusXM Radio (with subscription) are standard. An optional BeatsAudio system takes the system’s audio reproduction to the next level.
Everyone will appreciate the availability of up to 70 safety and security features. The updated Renegade includes the segment’s first availability of Forward Collision Warning-Plus and LaneSense Departure Warning.
The base model 2019 Jeep Renegade starts at $22,275. Our Limited model retails for $34,265. Both are subject to a $1,495 destination charge.
While the small SUV landscape is continually evolving, the Jeep Renegade is a strong contender for consumers. The styling is in line with the Jeep lineup and the interior is comfortable and functional. If you’re attracted to the Renegade’s styling and feel that the seating and cargo space will work for your lifestyle, then Jeep’s little SUV might be the perfect “does a little bit of everything” vehicle for you.
Chris Brewer is an automotive writer and photographer living in Northeast Florida. Chris is a regular contributor to numerous automotive magazines and founded Jacksonville Car Culture, an automotive lifestyle firm that runs Jacksonville’s Cars & Coffee. Chris also works as the director of communications for The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, a world-renowned automotive event and two-time winner of the International Historic Motoring Event of the Year award. He also has a doctorate degree from The Institute for Worship Studies.