Jeep is a name with a long, proud history.
The brand was born from the American military’s demand for a small tough vehicle and subsequent consumer desire for something similar.
At its core for the last 70 years has stood the civilian Jeep (CJ) and later Wrangler models but like every brand Jeep has had to broaden its offering.
Initially that meant larger, comfier more family friendly fare like the Wagoneer and Cherokee but in recent years the America 4×4 icon has also branched out into the softer SUV market, which is where the Renegade comes in.
Jeep Renegade Limited
Price: £24,905, (£28,055 as tested)
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo petrol
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 115mph
0-62mph: 11.2 seconds
CO2 emissions: 134g/km
The Renegade shares a lot of its underpinnings with the Fiat 500X but manages to retain some sense of individuality and Jeep-ness.
While its Italian stablemate is a weird blobby mess, the Renegade wears its recognisable seven-slot grille and chunky American styling with pride. The tail lights are even designed to look like jerry cans in a nod to Jeep’s military past.
The chunky styling is carried over to the interior where everything is cartoonishly oversized. The gearknob is massive, the steering wheel outrageously thick, the heating controls huge and easy to operate. Even the speaker grilles are massive square lumps that stick out of the doors.
It all works in making the Renegade stand out in its segment but sadly, the whole driving experience is similarly “chunky” and falls a long way behind the best in class.
The ride is constantly jittery and unsettled, and accompanied by significant wobble and lean on all but the straightest road. While the chassis tells you far too much about what’s going on underneath the steering does the opposite, offering virtually no communication.
A bouncy ride, poor body control and slack steering might be forgivable in the full-on off-roader like the Wrangler but in a car that will spend its life on the school run, and that is competing against hugely competent machines such as the Skoda Karoq and Nissan Qashqai, it’s not good enough.
Jeep do a four-wheel-drive version with a 2.0-litre diesel engine that is, by all accounts, commendably capable off-road but our test car was a front-drive version with a 1.0-litre petrol.
Like the rest of the driving experience this is pretty disappointing and lacklustre in comparison with its rivals.
In Limited trim the Renegade costs £24,905, with our car fitted with £3,000 of metallic paint, fancy seats and other options packs.
The spec brings plenty of equipment and technology. There are LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, heated seats and steering wheel, adaptive cruise, an 8.4-inch screen with live services, Android Auto and Apple Car Play, forward collisions warning plus and lane departure.
It’s a decent spec but any of its rivals will offer very similar equipment for the same £28,000 asking price. And unfortunately for Jeep virtually all of them offer more appealing interiors and far superior driving characteristics.