Car Review: With a new engine, Jeep’s 2020 Renegade packs a punch

I wouldn’t think to venture off road in a small crossover. Well, that was until the refreshed 2020 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk hit my driveway.

It looks the part, with added ground clearance, bright red tow hooks and numerous trail-rated badges on the body. Its styling stands out compared to other small crossovers. The Renegade looks like a mini Wrangler — more rugged and less cute.

For 2020, the Renegade has a new engine, a small 1.3L turbo and it packs a surprising punch with 177hp. It’s much better than the previous engine.

And it’s a more enjoyable vehicle to drive, even the nine-speed automatic works in harmony most of the time. Thanks to some tuning on the 2020 I only caught it out of sorts a few times, an improvement from past models.

The space is surprising for such a small crossover, with good head and leg room for those up front or in the back seat. My ride for the week came with optional leather seats that made it comfortable. However, the boxy body seems to let a bit more noise in the cabin at higher speeds.

A cool option is the My Sky power and removable sunroof system. There are two large panels that you can remove to have an open-air experience, or you can hit a button and the front panel slides back to reveal a big sunroof.

Cost: $27,790; as tested $35,770

MPG: 22 mpg city and 27 mpg highway; I managed 25.8 mpg in 220 miles of mixed driving.

Safety: Safety & security group; advance brake assist; Park View; Selec-terrain system; blind spot & cross path detection.

Options: $195 Jet set blue clear coat paint; $465 trailer tow package; $3695 LED lighting group; $445 passive entry remote start; $645 safety & security group; $1,695 premium leather group for Trailhawk; $1,595 My Sky power/removable sunroof; $745 Kenwood premium audio system.

Things to know: The Renegade Trailhawk has the look of a Wrangler and some off-road capabilities. With a new engine, the Renegade is better for 2020 — just be careful on trim and options choices to keep the price in check.

Pros:

  • You can actually take the Renegade Trailhawk off-road
  • Improved engine is standard on Trailhawk and optional on other Renegade models
  • Nicely equipped interior with easy to use technology

Cons:

  • Pricey when fully loaded
  • Has more cabin noise is a trade-off for boxy body
  • Cargo space isn’t as plentiful as the passenger space

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