2016 Jeep Renegade Latitude Long-Term Wrap-Up
The time has come to bid farewell to our Jeep Renegade long-termer, and the year with this engaging little SUV proved to be a largely a positive experience. We rolled up just over 10,500 miles in a mix of urban running and commuting on the ever-insane Interstate 405. That duty was interspersed with leisurely runs up the coast as well as to the nearby mountains and desert areas. While our well-optioned Omaha Orange Latitude 4x4 did exhibit a few shortcomings during its stint in KBB service, ultimately it merited considerably more praise than criticism from all who drove it.
A significant part of the Renegade’s initial appeal to the staff was its distinctive visual presence, a factor that also resonated with buyers who helped make it the dominant player in the hot subcompact SUV segment for 2016. Even in trim grades below the more aggressively off-road focused Trailhawk variant, the exterior of this junior Jeep displays plenty of classic design DNA culled from the iconic Wrangler that rightly underline its adventurous character.
That flair carries over to the cabin, where the Renegade’s impressive mix of style, substance, user-friendly controls and a bounty of subtle “Easter egg” design flourishes also drew praise from our edit team. So too did its comfortable, supportive front buckets matched with better-than-average–although not quite Honda HR-V level--aft accommodations. This was further sweetened in our vehicle by options like the Uconnect 6.5 infotainment and navigation setup, Beats sound system and class-exclusive My Sky removable roof panels. While the HR-V also bests it in cargo space, the Renegade still exceeds most other class competitors with 18.5 cu ft of basic capacity that rises to a very respectable 50.8 cu ft with the split rear seat folded.
Like most Renegade buyers, we opted for the bigger, more powerful 180-horsepower/2.4-liter Tigershark engine exclusively paired with the ZF 9-speed automatic transmission. Even with the extra weight of the Jeep Active Drive 4x4 system, the Tigershark provided adequate if not exactly enthusiastic motive force to handle all daily driving duties. However as Micah Muzio found when using our Renegade to tow a toolbox-laden trailer in hilly terrain, there’s not a lot of reserve muscle on tap here and taxing this engine definitely wreaks havoc with its already so-so fuel economy ratings. In the final accounting, our Renegade averaged 21.7 mpg during the evaluation period, although it racked up a notably better 23.0-mpg stat during the last third of its time with us against an official 24-mpg EPA combined figure. The only other fluid it required was one quart of oil.
For us, the more irritating element turned out to be the Rengade’s transmission. While a software re-flash midway through our test reduced the level of intermittent shift shock under lift-throttle conditions, the 9-speed still remained a bit uncertain as to which cog it really wanted to settle on once the vehicle was in motion. Responses to downshift requests when we toggled into manual mode also were less than lightning quick.
Back on the positive side of the ledger, we found much to like about the Renegade Latitude’s general dynamic qualities. Not as sporty as a Mazda CX-3, this Jeep’s admirable combination of ride compliance, steering feel and body control help it excel at in-town and freeway cruising and hold its own during light-duty corner carving and less-demanding trail running. Our Renegade also remained commendably squeak and rattle free, although we’d love to see Jeep expend a bit more effort towards further reducing tire- and road-noise levels inside the cabin.
The finish line
In the end, the 2016 Renegade came across as a solid, stylish and largely satisfying all-around hauler that can fill the needs of many subcompact SUV buyers – especially those with a preexisting soft spot for Jeep. Although our heavily optioned example stickered at a heady $32,385, a new Latitude 4x4 with the same drivetrain elements and plenty of desirable features can be had for just over $25,000. As for what lies ahead, while its direct rivals in this cutthroat segment get more formidable by the day the Renegade’s biggest challenge going forward could come from within courtesy of the all-new 2017 Jeep Compass which is a half-step up in size but only modestly more expensive depending on trim.
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