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2015 Jeep Renegade Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 Jeep Renegade was new.


Performance: 8.6

The new 2015 Jeep Renegade’s base engine and larger engine have adequate power, test drivers report. Some wish the available automatic transmission was more responsive. Reviewers praise the Renegade’s nimble handling and firm, but comfortable, ride. Test drivers agree that the Renegade is one of the most capable off-road SUVs in the class.

  • "The Renegade not only looks fun, but thanks to a well-tuned suspension, steering and powertrain it's as rewarding to drive on-road as it is off." -- Edmunds
  • Neither of the engines make the Renegade a rocket, but both dutifully move the small SUV's low-3,000-pound mass. The 1.4-liter must be revved into the higher rpm band and worked pretty hard for best performance. Upshift too soon and you risk lugging the engine. But those who opt for the smaller engine and do-it-yourself shifting will find a light clutch and perfectly adequate gear selector." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Jeep purists might smirk, thinking the Renegade has a fitting name, but this subcompact SUV is no Benedict Arnold: It delivers big-time off-road performance in Trailhawk form without sacrificing on-road driving refinement." -- Cars.com
  • "Overall, the Renegade struck us as a stable and, dare we say, entertaining vehicle through the twisties." -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

The all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade has a standard turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower and is paired with a six-speed manual transmission or an available nine-speed automatic. A 180-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is also available. The EPA estimates that the base Renegade gets up to 24/31 mpg city/highway, which is on par with the fuel economy of most SUVs in the class.

Reviewers say the base engine produces decent power for highway and city driving. Some think the larger engine gives the Renegade faster acceleration, but a few think it doesn't enhance the Renegade's performance that much. Some reviewers find that the manual transmission has imprecise shift action, and a few say the automatic can be slow to respond.

  • The engines were just fine for all urban and suburban tasks. They'll both get you up the freeway ramp and let you pass whatever you want to pass. So don't worry about which engine to get, both are fine. The manual transmission felt cheap, however, with long throws and vague engagement." -- AutoWeek
  • The 2.4 with automatic-likely the most popular choice-proved a mixed bag. It provided a good full-throttle jump from a stop and decent (though hardly ‘brisk’) acceleration, but when we hit the throttle at speed, the transmission would usually take its sweet time before downshifting. … By contrast, the little turbo four with manual worked fairly well. There's not a bunch of power on hand, but acceleration is lively enough, and the manual transmission boasts a smooth shifter and light, easily modulated clutch." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The most responsive and entertaining Renegades use the turbocharged 1.4-liter paired to the manual transmission. This engine might be smaller and less powerful, but it actually builds more torque than the 2.4-liter, so it's a blast to drive it hard. We were able to maintain 70 mph up a steep highway grade without downshifting from 6th gear." -- Edmunds
  • "The biggest problem with the automatic transmission is it's slow to kick down when you need more power. Floor the gas pedal and the automatic waits a moment before it decides to slowly shift to a lower gear. There's no urgency even when that's exactly what's needed." -- Cars.com
  • "While less sporty in character, the Renegade Limited's 2.4-liter engine and nine-speed auto combination is an equally engaging powertrain. Destined to be the volume engine and transmission, the little four-banger offers up good power and performance. … The nine-speed transmission continues to improve as Chrysler shoehorns it into more of its models, and the Renegade is its best application yet, with the transmission rattling off quick, smart shifts." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

Reviewers are pleased with the Jeep Renegade’s sporty handling, noting that it rounds corners stably and with little body roll. Although test drivers note that the Renegade’s ride is somewhat firm, they agree that it still remains relatively smooth over rough roads.

  • "While there's a good amount of wheel travel and bigger bumps were soaked up with little fanfare-exactly what you want for off-road work-there's a subtle but noticeable high-frequency jiggling at highway speeds on roads that appear fairly smooth. Countering this is that the Renegade proved surprisingly agile and even 'sporty' on some tight twisties found on our test route. …" -- Consumer Guide
  • "I was impressed with the Renegade's ride and handling. Ride quality is firm, but suspension responses are refined. … The Renegade might be small, but it feels substantial and sturdy. … It not only rides smoothly but handles with a deftness you'd frankly never imagine from a vehicle wearing a Jeep badge." -- Edmunds
  • "Body roll is well controlled - the Renegade remains remarkably flat even when attacking winding canyon roads - and the SUV shows admirable poise on the highway, without any of the bucking tendencies that some cars with shorter wheelbases exhibit." -- Cars.com
  • "The shifter feels great, the brakes are linear, and the steering is precise. With Koni FSD shocks-a pleasant surprise-at each corner, body control is excellent. The Renegade is the first Jeep that willingly carves through canyons in the sports-car sense, not just the truck sense." -- Road and Track


The 2015 Renegade comes standard with front-wheel drive. The Renegade can be equipped with one of two full-time four-wheel drive systems. Both systems come with Jeep Selec-Terrain, which has up to five drive modes for different types of terrain: auto, snow, sand, mud and Trailhawk-only rock mode. Reviewers agree the Jeep Renegade has great off-road capabilities for the class, as it can easily climb over various rugged terrains. Critics note that the Trailhawk trim is the most capable for off-roading.

  • "On a private off-road facility within the Santa Monica Mountains, we put the trail-rated Renegade to the test, and it clawed its way up hills, over rocks and down steep slopes with surprising tenacity." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "I experienced the Trailhawk's considerable off-road capabilities. After crawling up rock-strewn paths, navigating deeply rutted terrain and descending steep dirt tracks, my lasting impression is how easy the Renegade made it all seem." -- Cars.com
  • "Off-road the Renegade is surprisingly capable. … The 'Trail-Rated' Trailhawk trim level gets extra ground clearance and better approach and departure angles so if you want to go Rubicon, get that one. We tried out a bunch of terrain and had no trouble surmounting everything the park could put in our way. This is more capable off-road than anything in the class, easily." -- AutoWeek

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