Test Drive:2019 Jeep Renegade

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Jul 24, 2019


Loaded with personality, utility, and off-roading capability, the 2019 Jeep Renegade competes in a subcompact SUV segment exploding in popularity. This year, Jeep gives its Fiat-based, Italian-made Renegade styling updates, new lighting and driver assistance technology options, a re-tuned steering and suspension, and a brand-new engine choice.

In order from most affordable to most expensive, the 2019 Jeep Renegade is available in Sport, Latitude, Upland, Altitude, Limited, Trailhawk, and High Altitude trim levels. All but the Upland and Trailhawk are offered with front-wheel drive in addition to all-wheel drive. The Limited, Trailhawk, and High Altitude get the new turbocharged 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine.

2019 Jeep Renegade Limited Blue Front Quarter

At Jeep’s invitation, I spent several hours driving the 2019 Renegade Limited and Trailhawk in the Malibu, California area. This SUV’s new engine is appealing, but there is room for improvement as far as the drivetrain’s performance is concerned.

Styling and Design

You can’t help but smile when you look at a Jeep Renegade. From its classic design cues and hidden Easter eggs to its jaunty appearance and personality, it might as well be the definition of a cute ‘ute.

Styling changes for 2019 add some visual aggression, and the new 18-inch wheel option for the Renegade Limited looks terrific. As was true before, the Trailhawk gets modified front styling that improves its approach angle in order to support this version’s Trail Rated off-roading status.

Climb aboard, and the Renegade’s airy greenhouse makes the SUV feel bigger inside than it is. This is especially true with the high-contrast Ski Grey over Black color scheme. Some proportions are awkward, especially the curvature of the windshield pillars. Nevertheless, especially in upper trim levels, the Renegade looks and feels like it's a cut above a typical entry-level SUV.

Comfort and Cargo

Drivers will be happy thanks to a commanding position behind the thick-rimmed steering wheel, and excellent outward visibility. Both test vehicles had an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat that helped to improve comfort.

You can carry adults in the back seat without suffering much in the way of complaint. To give everyone aboard a carefree, one-with-nature feeling, two different sunroof options open the Renegade’s cabin to the outdoors.

Behind the back seat, the cargo area holds 18.5 cubic-feet of luggage. Fold the rear seat down to create a sizable 50.8 cu.-ft. cargo hold.

Safety and Technology

One area where Jeep needed to improve the Renegade is with regard to crashworthiness. That remains to be seen, as neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has completed testing on the 2019 model. One thing that did not change is the Renegade’s mediocre 3-star rollover resistance rating.

In the meantime, the 2019 Renegade adds new driving assistance technologies in the form of adaptive cruise control and a semi-autonomous parking assist system that works for parallel and perpendicular spaces. These new features complement a range of advanced driving assistance systems.

Jeep installs its Uconnect family of infotainment systems in the Renegade. Available features include an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Sirius XM Guardian connected services, and more.

Generally speaking, Uconnect is one of the easier touchscreen infotainment systems to use, thanks to clear graphics, large virtual buttons, and separate controls for primary stereo and climate functions. The optional Beats Audio premium sound system should make younger buyers happy.

Driving Impressions

Both test vehicles had the new turbocharged 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine, which makes 177 horsepower and 210 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s plenty of motive force for this size of vehicle, and the thrust of the torque is particularly satisfying.

A 9-speed automatic transmission puts the power to the pavement, but in certain situations it delays downshifts, and that makes the Renegade feel as though it stumbles.

Thanks to steering and suspension changes, the Renegade Limited with 18-inch wheels and pavement-friendly tires handles corners and curves with enthusiasm. The ride displays more refinement, too, as well as a sporty stiffness that can communicate too much impact into the cabin.

Get the Trailhawk for off-roading, where its special all-wheel-drive and traction control systems, increased ground clearance, and dirt-friendly rubber can tackle terrain other small SUVs can’t.


 Prices for the 2019 Renegade range from less than $24,000 to nearly $36,500 with every option box checked. Jeep typically offers big rebates or attractive financing rates for the Renegade, helping to offset those prices and the sky-high $1,495 destination charge.

Crash-test ratings remain a question mark, and the 9-speed automatic transmission needs recalibration, but thanks to its size, capability, technology, and the quality of the interior materials, the Renegade is worthy of consideration. This is especially true since it is more affordable than the Jeep Compass and Jeep Cherokee, vehicles that aren’t much larger inside than a Renegade.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2021 J.D. Power

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