On the outside, the 2018 Jeep Renegade looks and feels just like other Renegades – but that is a great thing if you want ‘planted’ drivability throughout all four seasons in Chicagoland.
The Renegade’s seven grille slots, flanked by the familiar twin-round headlights, provide the essential Jeep DNA for the exterior, while the wheel openings have the expected ‘squared-off’ Jeep look.
Look for some smaller Jeep styling cues, like a small Jeep etched into both headlights, a graduated Jeep sunshade around the windshield, big, stylish ‘Xs’ in the taillights – a nod to the gas cans mounted at the rear of original World War II Jeeps.
Differences between models are that Latitude models have a contrasting black roof and bright trim pieces and better wheel/tires, Trailhawks have basically supplanted Deserthawks and have black wheels w/aggressive tires, flat trim pieces/decals and bright red tow hooks in front bumper.
Under the flat hood, Renegade has a 2.4-liter I4, 16-valve MultiAir engine with multiport fuel injection. Mated to a capable 9-speed automatic that is more geared for on-road driving than off, the Renegade delivers fine road manners and ample athletic acceleration.
The Renegade’s cabin translates the Jeep look to a compact-car space. There is a bit of wind and engine noise than manages to creep into the space. From Orange tints and bright splatter fabrics to crisp heated leather/cloth seats, my numerous tester vehicles had a variety of upgrades and changes. The Latitude model splits the difference between the Sport and Trailhawk models.
All models feature oversized controls and pod sections in the dash. It’s easy to find and access controls as they are grouped and organized well. This year there’s more storage capacity due to interior revisions, including an upgraded Selec-Terrain shifter dial layout, and two new storage areas in front of the shifter. While Renegades have seat belts for five it’s not a comfortable arrangement.
The My Sky power retractable/removable panels were on my Renegade tester, this easily enhances the open feeling in the cabin. Cargo space is fine with rear seats up at 18.5 cu. ft. and with rear seats folded there’s 50 cu. ft. and the front passenger seat folds flat so Renegades can carry longer objects.
On The Road
On the road, the Renegade exhibits tall-wagon sway and a distinct lean. The brakes and steering are adequate, but on-road feel and response could be tightened up.
On smooth roads, the ride quality is slightly above average with the larger 18-inch wheels, but in sand and light off-road trails they excel. Each tester was a 4×4 model (4×2 versions are available) and the Trailhawk is especially suited for medium off-road duty with a simulated low-speed crawl ratio, aggressive tires, and higher ground clearance. Look for a traction dial (Select-Terrain w/rock crawl) that can be set to deal with mud, snow, sand, or steep downhill descents.
The 2018 Renegade Latitude definitely has some off-road limitations, but if you need more, Trailhawk can accommodate. The Latitude does provide plenty of space for four passengers and some active lifestyle gear. It’s a good “starter” Jeep, or better Jeep for young teen drivers.