Quirky crossover with off-road capability. When the Jeep Renegade debuted in 2015, it arrived to some resistance from brand traditionalists due to its funky looks and the soft-roader class in which it competed. Over the years, it’s grown into a popular model for folks looking for something unique from their subcompact crossover.

The 2021 Jeep Renegade is all about uniqueness with its quirky shape, relatively potent powertrain options, unmatched off-road capabilities in its class, and more.

Sharp looks in and out, but tight rear seats. The Renegade boasts a great outward appearance with its upright glasshouse and stance, flared wheel wells, signature seven-slot grille, black accents, and other rugged cues uncommon in the segment.

Inside, the Renegade is a mixture of sleek crossover and rugged SUV. It shows its sleek side with its curvy instrument panel, unique air vents, and contrasting speaker surrounds. The rugged side chimes in with a chunky three-spoke steering wheel and passenger-side dash grab bar. Buyers can further play into this rugged side with the Trailhawk trim.

While it looks great inside and out, the Renegade 35.1 inches of rear leg room make sitting in the back seat no joy. This is well behind the Honda HR-V’s 39.3 inches and the Subaru Crosstrek’s 36.5 inches. It does, however, beat the Nissan Rogue Sport’s 33.4 inches of rear leg room.

The Renegade is also tight in the cargo area, with just 18.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 50.8 with them folded. Folks seeking more space can look to the HR-V (24.3 and 58.8 cubic feet, respectively), Crosstrek (20.8 and 55.3), or Rogue Sport (22.9 and 61.1).

Jeep Renegade

Peppy turbo engine, unrefined base motor. The Renegade’s optional 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine pumps out 177 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. This is plenty of pep for this small vehicle and easily trumps most competitors.

The standard 2.4-liter engine delivers a respectable 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque, but it does so with minimal refinement and lots of noise.

No matter which engine you choose, you’re stuck with an indecisive nine-speed automatic transmission that can’t seem to pick a gear and stick with it.

The Renegade makes up for these powertrain shortcomings with an advanced all-wheel-drive system and upgraded trail-trekking hardware in the Trailhawk trim. Other than the Crosstrek, no other subcompact crossover can come close to the Renegade Trailhawk’s off-road prowess.

Well-equipped cabin, but safety lags. Previous Renegade model years were relics of generations past with no standard air conditioning or power windows. In 2021, Jeep rectifies this, giving it power windows and dual-zone automatic climate control to go along with its other desirable standard gear, including a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and more.

The Nissan Rogue and Crosstrek keep pace with the Renegade in this area. The Ford EcoSport and HR-V fall way behind, as neither has standard Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Plus, the EcoSport and HR-V have tiny standard 4.2- and 5-inch non-touchscreen displays, respectively.

The Renegade matches most in its class with standard automatic emergency braking, but it has sore spots in crash safety. In IIHS testing, it received only an “Acceptable” rating in the small-overlap passenger-side crash test, and its best headlight test was only “Acceptable." In NHTSA testing, the Renegade received only a four-star overall safety rating and a three-star rating for rollover safety.

Final thoughts. There’s a lot to love about the 2021 Jeep Renegade, especially if you skip the base engine and move right into the 1.3-liter turbo unit. Plus, buyers who want a small crossover that can handle more than just a gravel road and light snow, the Renegade Trailhawk has legit off-road chops.

If you plan to haul older children or adults in the rear seats, though, you may be better off with the HR-V. If you plan to carry cargo, the HR-V, Crosstrek, and Rogue all offer more space than the Renegade.

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