Jeep Renegade review: A car that’s happy in city or country, with a steering wheel that will spark joy

The Jeep Renegade has proven a huge hit among those who are after a car that promises to fit in to city life as well as it does to country life. James Fisher put it to the test.

Occasionally, I like to sit and think about what the world was like before mobile phones. How did people meet up? What happened if the date was late? Did you just wait, soup cooling and beer heating? I have visions of millions, alone and palely loitering, waiting for the mail, trembling with anxiety about whether Elizabeth fancies going to the ball next week. I imagine the sensation to be similar to waiting for someone you fancy to reply to your risky text, except worse – a handwritten “Netflix and Chill” just carries so much gravitas.

I lost my way. While I sit here, alone and palely wondering about the functionality of a pre-iPhone world, I realise that what seems strange to me now was perfectly normal back then; it’s only after being exposed to a new technology or way of life that we wonder how we ever lived without it.

This leads me onto the heated steering wheel.

I‘ve lived my life entirely oblivious to the heated steering wheel. Having now experienced the joyful ring of warmth that accompanied the Jeep Renegade I was recently lent, I look forward to putting my hands on cold leather about as much as I look forward to giving a porcupine a backrub. It’s revolutionary; reader, it’s a small window into how the other half live.

Jeep Renegade

The steering wheel. Or rather, THE steering wheel.

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I was feeling smug about my circle of joy when I turned up at the home of a friend on a cold winter’s morning. However, I hadn’t anticipated the violent clamminess that an hour of holding onto said wheel encourages. I strode toward my host, and indulged him in a relatively firm handshake, then watched as his expression rapidly turned from one of welcome to one of putrid horror, like he had just high-fived Davy Jones.

Note: turn off heated wheel at least thirty minutes prior to arrival.

This would have been a useful warning to have in advance, but despite the Jeep having one for just about everything else, errant clamminess was left off the list.

The loudest is the lane-departure warning. It’s like being screamed at by a buffalo, which is good, because accidentally changing lanes is bad. The second loudest is the proximity sensor, which is about as invasive as bad dentistry and much less comfortable. I’d argue that a proximity sensor is also good, but this was programmed to be so sensitive that every passing insect startled it and, after three hours of unexpected beeps, I was ready to be placed into a straight jacket. There must be a way to turn them off, or reduce the volume, but I couldn’t find it and this is the only negative thing I will say in this review.

There have been a few American invaders recently, just ask Queen Elizabeth, but this is a good one. It’s jeep’s first foray into the world of small 4x4s, and unlike its competitors, it looks decidedly un-sporty.

Thankfully, despite the determination of most car companies to style their mini SUVs as a gateway drug into the adrenaline lifestyle, the jeep looks like a proper off-road car, and more importantly you won’t feel guilty for driving it without a canoe on top.

Though as Jeep’s PR photography shows, that remains an option:

Jeep Renegade

But it’s deceptive: the version I drove, a diesel 1.6 Multijet Limited with a 6-speed gearbox, was deliciously agile. As a city car, it’s nimble and feels compact, with a comforting ride height and plenty of visibility.

It just so happened that I had to move flat, and even with a boot full of the earthly possessions of a young man, it zipped across south London with ease.

On a drive up north, to meet aforementioned pal, the motorway miles were consumed in fair comfort, without much fuel going missing, and the interior was a pleasant place to be for 5 hours. The sound-system is good, the satnav works and it’s got a hands free phone system. Did I mention that the steering wheel is heated? Because that’s really great too.

It can even get around a muddy field, assuming you don’t drive like a moron, and when taken on a day’s shooting, with people crashing in and out of it, nothing broke off and it was more than easy to clean.

Also, my hands were warm.

So, after two days in the city, a long drive north and two days in the Dales, plus a drive back south, I could pick no faults, other than an excessive aural assault in the name of safety. Pricewise, it sits just above the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Suzuki Vitara, but it’s decidedly cheaper than the efforts of the trinity of Mercedes, BMW and Audi.

The Jeep’s defining characteristic is that it feels like the latter, but doesn’t look like the former – an ideal mix. For those looking for something that is as happy in the city as it is in the countryside, but not looking to pay too much for badge, the Jeep is more than a safe bet.

Just make sure to get the heated steering wheel. You’ll thank me later.

Jeep Renegade 1.6 Multijet II Limited

  • Priced: from £23,995 (other models start at £18,250)
  • Combined fuel consumption: 61.4mpg
  • Power: 120bhp
  • 0-60mph: 10.2sec
  • Top speed: 111mph

Find out more about the Jeep Renegade