Jim Morrison, head of Jeep in the United States, summed up the 2015 Jeep Renegade perfectly when he said, “It’s crazy enough to take you any place you want to go.” Yet, it also has a high level of refinement for its price.

So, it’s both crazy and refined. That’s not a bad thing to be in the growing sub-compact crossover utility vehicle class. When you’re fighting the likes of the Kia Soul, Nissan Juke, Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax it helps to be just a little bit crazy.

The Renegade is a true off-road vehicle that can be docile on the road. Let’s call it a refined Jeep Wrangler because that is the vehicle is most resembles in the company’s lineup.

Jeep has hinted that the 2.4-liter MultiAir2 Tigershark engine, which is mated to a 9-speed automatic, will get 30 mpg on the highway. That makes sense because the bigger Jeep Cherokee is rated at 27 mpg.

Jeep created a special Trailhawk package for the Renegade to enhance its off-road performance. The final drive ratio has a 20 to 1 crawl ratio.

It is lifted an inch and there are skid plates on the bottom. It also includes a necessary full size spare because a run-flat tire just won’t do in the wild.

To make the underside less likely to catch on obstacles, it also has a 31-degree approach angle, 26-degree breakover angle, and 34-degree departure. (Normal is 21-degree approach.)

Trailhawk also gets rock mode. In addition, it has an aggressive brake lock differential and the non-traction tire spins at the same rate of the vehicle.

Driving it around the Hollister Off-Road Vehicle area in California, I notice little difference with the much larger Grand Cherokee. There was one section where the little Renegade struggled that I feel the Grand Cherokee could have conquered easily.

The 2015 Jeep Renegade comes in four trim levels. The Sport starts at $17,995. Consider this the stripper you’ll see on rental car lots. The Latitude is $21,195 and will probably be the volume seller. The Limited comes pretty loaded at $24,795 with the Trailhawk starting at $25,995.

OK, so is everything perfect about the Jeep Renegade? One flaw is the use of an electronic parking brake. It seems to diminish the off-road capabilities not to have a hand brake.

Also, the MySky panels are lightweight panels that can be removed to open up the Renegade’s roof.

I found them easy to detach and install for a nice convertible experience for around town and rock climbing.

Once off, though, the ride becomes extremely noisy over 35 mph. You can buy a wind deflector as an option but apparently Jeep feels it mars the sightlines of the flat roof to have it installed from the factory.

Ultimately, the thing I like most about the Jeep Renegade is its strong combination of on-road comfort and off-road capability.

Probably 98% of its owners will never test it on anything more trying than a gravel road. But it’s nice you don’t pay a comfort penalty the rest of the time.

 

2015 Jeep Renegade

Base Price: $17,995

Price As Tested: $25,995 (not including destination charge)

Likes

Strong Offroad Capabilities

Good Onroad Ride

True to Jeep Heritage

Dislikes

Unusually noisy with MySky Panels Off

Electronic parking brake