Jeep Renegade: My empty nest car?
In about 5 years, I could be an empty-nester. My kids will have their own driver’s licenses and (hopefully) jobs and I won’t need to play taxi any more. So I’ve started thinking about what my next car – my NON-Mom car – might be.
I’m not a sports car kinda girl. I love my SUV, but when I don’t have to tote kids and their friends around, do I need a huge car? I still want cargo space and a vehicle that will easily transport sporting equipment like skis and kayaks. I want a car that’s rugged, but I also want it to be cute. That car might be the Jeep Renegade.
This was my first time driving a Jeep, though I’ve loved them from afar for many years. Jeep exemplifies adventure – a quality that I hold dear. I expected this crossover SUV to feel rugged, exposed, even slightly dangerous (in a good way). But what I experienced was a smooth, civilized ride that felt anything but dangerous.
Classic Jeep with a soft touch
The Jeep Renegade is a softer version of the Wrangler, its legendary off-road brother. The classic Jeep seven-bar grille is surrounded by a curvy exterior and hard-top roof (though the “My Sky” removable sunroof is optional). The interior is a nice blend of soft and rugged. The dash has a modern flair but remains basic with chunky, utilitarian knobs that are typical of a Jeep. The car is compact, but comfortable and stylish with its leather-wrapped steering wheel and silver accents.
All the Technology You Need in An Adventure Vehicle
In terms of technology, the Jeep Renegade holds its own, offering two USB ports, a household plug, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Sadly, all my driving in the Jeep Renegade was local and highway driving. I didn’t get a chance to test out the Selec-Terrain snow, sand, and mud settings. But as someone who travels, hikes, skis, and enjoys water sports, I love having these options. Selec-Terrain is an intelligent four-wheel drive system. In auto mode, it essentially disconnects the rear axle so you are driving in front-wheel drive on regular hard road. The snow, sand and mud settings put the car in four-wheel drive and employ advanced electronics to give you the best traction, braking, and steering options for each situation.
I haven’t driven a Wrangler, but I’d love to do a comparison. The adventurer in me wants that hardy Jeep – to pull back the top and unzip the rear windows and drive that baby down the beach or trail. But the soon-to-be empty nest Mom in me thinks the Renegade — with its sexy, curvier exterior and adequate all-terrain performance for some of my more adventurous moments — might be the car for me.
Here’s a quick overview of the car and a couple features I liked and didn’t like:
What I loved
- The boxy design of the car is my favorite feature. Sitting in the driver’s seat, I liked the head room and security I felt around me
- Rain-sensitive windshield wipers. This is a slick feature that senses the amount of rain on the windshield and adjusts wiper speed automatically
- More cargo space than I thought – especially if you fold the seats down. There’s also a fold-flat front seat option, so plenty of room for sporting equipment
- Selec-Terrain gives you enhanced safety and performance with a simple turn of the dial
What you need to know
- Base price is $26,995; price for the model I drove is $29,755
- Fuel economy is 24 MPG combined city/highway (21 city, 29 highway)
- The car is compact. There’s little space to put a purse if you have a passenger and the backseat is on the tighter side. My two teens sat back there and reported feeling a bit cramped on a long road trip. But since I’m looking at the Renegade as my empty nest car, I’m not all that concerned!
Note: Chrysler/FCA loaned me the Jeep for the purposes of this review; empty nest fantasy is all my own.