In my eyes, the existence of the crossover is targeted at greedy people. This I believe is the reason why crossovers aren't champions of anything, and mediocre in everything. I mean, how do you expect anyone to build a vehicle that's easy to maneuver, fast on the highway and twisties, confident over the rocks, and to top it all off, fuel-efficient? Wanna have your cake and eat it, too?
I think Jeep has something for you, and they call it the Renegade.
At first glance, the Renegade has the Jeep signature 7 slot grille, but after that, everything is soft to the eye and the bum. It's not a car you'd expect to see climbing up and down uncharted mountainous areas, or jumping off dune ramps in the desert - those are for its elder brother - the Wrangler. The Renegade, by the looks, is more for the concrete jungle. It's a Jeep with a soft ride that will keep your torso attached to the rest of your body, and leave you and your passengers enough energy to spend some quality family time after a long road trip.
Although I have no problem driving the Renegade, in my head I see my wife driving it more on a daily basis. She is completely smitten by the whole package. It looks like the Beetle's long lost brother from an American mother. Like the Beetle, the Renegade has a certain look that reminds me of a cute cartoon character with a personality and emotion - from Pixar's Cars. It's a car my wife would probably give a name to and enjoy driving everywhere with the kids in tow.
And enjoy she truly did.
She was mesmerized with the interior's playfulness of swathes of white and brown leather splashed with tangerine accents, like it was designed straight out of the 70's. It's got this Instagram vibe that my family adored. As for me, I enjoyed the supportive seats and the thick steering wheel. It allowed me to drive this Jeep with the confidence that was backed up by its peppy engine.
This turbocharged 1.4 liter Jeep can sprint when you need it to on either straightaways or twisty roads. Uphill to Tagaytay is a non-issue except for that temporary decrease in fuel range as expected. Downhill, the brakes don't need to be applied much because the Renegade stays at a low gear to use the engine to slow itself down. Tires don't slip much while driving on the mud thanks to an intelligent 4x4 system. It just goes to where you need it to go - as long as you're not a rhinoceros looking to cool down in a river.
That 4x4 system is proof of the Jeep pedigree. The Renegade may not have the utilitarian rolled-up sleeves of its elder brother, but it is definitely capable when the need is present. With 8 inches of ground clearance and 19 inches of water fording, those odd moments you'll have to go through the dirt where a Hyundai Tucson and Honda CR-V have turned around, the Renegade will trot along and flex some muscle.
In the city, the Renegade is at home. Driving it on a daily basis to bring the kids to school on the way to work with a quick breakfast stopover at the local cafe is pleasurable - it’s a looker, but not loud. It doesn't wobble about over road imperfections thanks to a stiff suspension that lessens body roll for better handling. Mashing the accelerator pedal allows the Renegade to overtake cars comfortably despite having an engine smaller than that cola bottle you get free with an order of pizza. You even get an audible reminder of the speed limit by Jeep's version of Siri.
The only thing that I really did not like was the Beats audio system. It sounded like those stock 1990 Corolla base models, except those sounded a little bit better. The frequencies were not being distributed properly and it seemed like all the power was channeled the front speakers. After doing some research, it turns out that there could be a technical campaign to fix this problem, as it is a $695 option in the United States. Other than that, this car has not disappointed in any aspect in its arsenal.
As a city dweller first and foremost, this truly is Jeep’s renegade - an evolutionary divergence from the signature Jeep off-road prowess. But evolution does not erase ones DNA completely, and Jeep's DNA gives this crossover much more than others in the segment.
So yeah, have your cake and eat it, too!
Ex-Public Highway Racer