Jeep adds two models to Renegade lineup for 2017

By Paul Borden

(July 13, 2017) Jeep entered the Renegade in the subcompact SUV market to a generally good reception for the 2015 model year, and for 2017 adds a couple of new versions to the portfolio, one of which is the Renegade Altitude that serves as the subject for this review.

Though the company referred to two new “models” when it previewed them at last fall’s Los Angeles Auto Show, but they are really more like enhanced variants of a couple of familiar trim levels.

The Altitude is based on the Latitude and the Deserthawk on the Trailhawk, making the Deserthawk suited to more adventurous off-road expeditions than the Altitude.

Not that the Altitude isn’t capable of hitting the dirt, because it is. It wouldn’t be a Jeep if it wasn’t. It’s just that the Altitude is more urban-oriented, if there is such a phrase.

But that doesn’t mean it lacks boldness.

In fact, rather than Altitude, Jeep just as well could have labeled it “Attitude” with its 18-inch gloss black wheels and gloss black exterior accents like front and rear badges, grille rings and tail lamp rings giving it a more aggressive look.

The interior, too, gets black design touches, including black cloth seats.

Thus even though it may linger near the “cute-ute” genre, there’s nothing timid about the Altitude, which, by the way, comes out of the FCA assembly plant in Melfi, Italy. It is built alongside the Fiat 500X with 62 percent of its parts coming from Italy and only 22 percent from the U.S. and Canada. The engine and transmission come from the U.S.

With a starting MSRP of $22,390, about $4,500 more than the starting price for the base Renegade Sport, the Altitude is competitive when it comes to pricing in the segment.

Standard equipment for the Altitude includes a backup camera, keyless go with push button start, an electric parking brake, Selec-Terrain System with Auto, Snow, Sand, and Mud modes, Hill Start Assist, capless fuel fill, U-Connect 5.0 telematics, and integrated voice command with Bluetooth capability.

A 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with a 6-speed manual transmission is the base power train, and it is offered in both front-wheel drive and 4X4 configuration.

The optional 2.4-liter, 4-banger that is rated at 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque (compared to the 1.4L’s 160/184, respectively) added $1,530 to the base MSRP of $23,495 for my recent drive. It’s mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission.

The engines are not neck-snappers but are up to handling ordinary driving tasks.

Other options like the Advance Technology Package (lane departure warning, rear park assist, etc.), remote start, Safety and Security Group (blind spot warning, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, etc.), navigation with a 6.5-inch screen, and a My Sky Retractable Roof with Removable Panels ran the total for my ride to $32,195. That’s getting up there pretty good in the class.

Of course, you can skimp on the removable roof panels and save yourself $1,495.

What I liked about the 2017 Jeep Renegade Altitude: Overall, it’s a very capable and versatile vehicle. Cargo capacity is 18.5 cubic feet with the rear seats in place but 50.5 cubic feet when they’re folded. There’s also a false floor that can be used to conceal items or removed to give the rear space more depth.

What I didn’t like about the 2017 Jeep Renegade Altitude: Road noise seemed a bit excessive, and fuel mileage (21 miles-per-gallon city, 29 highway, 24 combined) is disappointing. The computer showed I was getting on the low end of that despite the majority of my miles coming on the interstate.

Would I buy the 2017 Jeep Renegade Altitude? Yes. It’s definitely worth a look, especially if you want something in the class that stands out. The Renegade’s taillight design is very distinctive. One caveat: If you are planning on doing some towing, you are pretty much limited to 4X4 models with the 2.4-liter engine and the limit is 2,000 pounds. Towing is not recommended with the smaller engine.