Owning a Jeep is synonymous with getting off the beaten trail, literally or figuratively. It is empowering, and it allows you to feel like there are fewer boundaries. However, not everyone can afford a Wrangler, a Sahara, or the ultimate Wagoneer.
The Renegade Latitude is a vehicle that allows the aspirations of the potential Jeep owner to align with their pocketbook. A part of the crowded subcompact SUV segment, the Jeep Renegade is all about value and utility. It manages to stand out from the crowd with personality and off-road chops.
At just 166.6 inches long, the 2023 Jeep Renegade Latitude strikes a unique profile with a tall, boxy shape that sits just 8 inches off the ground. On the outside of the vehicle are all the signature Jeep design cues, from round front headlights, a seven vertical bar grille, and squared-off taillights.
The interior design is one of utility and no-nonsense function more than style. Featuring plentiful legroom and lots of headroom, the interior features a huge panoramic sunroof that lets a lot of natural light in, a good thing since the vehicle is otherwise hindered when it comes to sight lines.
Despite its boxy shape, the Renegade features a high belt line, a small rear window, large C-pillars that create tiny side cargo windows, and much-appreciated heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
Jeep’s adaptation of Uconnect is a monumental success. I love this infotainment system. It’s easy to use and features intuitive UX. I got into the vehicle and immediately found all the settings/screens I wanted without issue. This is the best step-in-to-use system out there.
Backseat riders benefit from a generous 40.5 inches of headroom and 35.1 inches of legroom. The cargo area holds 18.5 cubic feet of gear, and the Renegade can tow upwards of 2,000 pounds when properly equipped.
Look for a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (177 horsepower and 210 lb-ft. of torque) to make the Renegade a very compelling drive in this class. That’s more power than most competitors, and with a 9-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels, it is an upgrade within a class that usually relies on far fewer gears, or in the worst scenario – a CVT.
While the turbo engine is small, it provides ample power, especially for this segment. It begins to press on the highway, but there’s still enough torque for any aggressive maneuvers. Official ratings for the Renegade are 23 mpg City and 29 mpg Highway.
A true car-based crossover, the Jeep Renegade feels more like an SUV to drive. While many competitors are trying to mimic the moves and behaviors of passenger cars, the Renegade goes well out of its way to be more of a Jeep.
The 2023 Jeep Renegade has a 4x4 lock function, which just keeps the all-wheel-drive system fully engaged. Still, there are multiple off-road modes, such as Sand, Snow and Mud that help adjust to whatever you encounter.
The relationship of the Renegade is a balancing act. For those looking for the car-like driving experience of a subcompact crossover, they probably aren’t going to appreciate, nor fully understand the Jeep Renegade. Its mission in life is to be more than just another entry-level driving appliance. Yet, it is meant to give a taste of Jeep ownership to the brand’s aspiring customers.
While appearing quirky, the Renegade does succeed at being part of the Jeep family. At a base price of $30,740, my tester landed at $34,700 and it was a great 4x4 value when compared to others in the class.
• John Stein is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. He has more than 25 years of experience driving, testing and writing about the automotive industry, its latest innovations and vehicles.