2016 Jeep Renegade Latitude Long-Term Update: Powertrain
Since joining us in June, our Jeep Renegade Latitude 4x4 has rolled up nearly 3,900 of fairly uneventful miles in KBB long-term service. While we continue to learn more about its nuances, a good deal of its basic personality is now clear and remains quite positive for the most part. In this update, we’ll take a closer look at its drivetrain.
The 2016 Jeep Renegade offers two different 4-cylinder engines in its best-selling Latitude trim. Base motivator is a 160-horspower/1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo that makes 184 lb-ft of torque and gets mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. Alternatively, buyers can opt for a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter Tigershark with MiltiAir2 tech that develops 180 horses and 175 lb-ft of peak twist. This engine -- which uses a more advanced electro-hydraulic, fully variable system controls the timing of both the opening and closing of the valves -- is paired exclusively with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Like the most Renegade buyers, we opted for the latter.
While it won’t be eliciting enthusiastic kudos from hard-core performance types – the 2.4-liter/9-speed combo coupled with the Jeep Active Drive full-time 4x4 system brings up 60 mph in roughly 9.0 seconds -- the Renegade does have sufficient muscle to deal with any average driving demand. Although as noted in a previous update, towing is not exactly its forte. Most enthusiastic when the revs are kept above 3,000 rpm, the engine’s exhaust note does get a bit raspy under full-throttle but quietly fades into the background when just cruising along.
The Latitude’s ZF 9-speed automatic transmission is proving to be a mixed bag. Generally smooth and seamless, it will periodically serve up an uncharacteristically abrupt change or a subtle mini-jolt as you come off the throttle. The electronic controller also seems prone to periodic confusion about which cog to select when you’re rolling down the highway. And with four overdriven ratios in the house, there are no shortage choices it can make at any point in time. We’re also less than impressed with this transmission’s lethargic responses to any double-downshifting requests made via the Auto Stick when you’re in manual mode.
Much of this modestly annoying behavior might be fully forgiven if our Renegade’s fuel economy numbers more closely aligned with those listed by the EPA. Despite a “full-time” classification, its Jeep Active Drive is an on-demand 4x4 system with an efficiency-enhancing rear-axle disconnect setup that keeps the Renegade in front-drive until conditions dictate otherwise -- a factor that helps it earn a 24-mpg combined average. However, to this point, our Renegade has returned just under 19.5 mpg. In fairness, at least part of that can be attributed to having joined our fleet with just 124 miles on the odometer and getting its baptism by fire dragging a loaded trailer for several hundred miles. The picture has brightened considerably during the last month as the per-tank economy during that period has been progressively moving closer to 23 mpg. It’s a trend we hope to see continue as more miles pass.
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