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The Jeep Renegade is a bit like a C-list celebrity, not bad necessarily, but definitely not an A-list star. It is a good choice for challenging off-road excursions but is lacking in so many other areas it is hard to justify buying it simply for going off-road.

There are alternatives that are fun to drive and are cheaper and safer. The 2021 Jeep Renegade has eight (yep, eight) different trim levels but the only one that is really worth your time and money is the Trailhawk trim.

The Jeep Renegade isn’t awesome

There are several areas where the Renegade fails to hold up to its competition and is ranked #12 in subcompact SUVs and #50 in crossover SUVs by U.S. News.

It has sluggish acceleration and fuel economy ratings that are pretty subpar. One of the key areas that tanked the Renegade’s ranking is reliability, receiving a rating of two out of five. In fact, Consumer Reports gave it a reliability rating of 19 out of 100. It gets average safety ratings even though it does have numerous safety features.

Two other areas where the Renegade is lacking is power and price. The two engine options only offer a max of 180-hp, and the nine-speed transmission is slow and not smooth, causing power to fluctuate and drop just when you need it.

Its fuel economy is also way below average with an estiamted max of 24 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. It is also not priced very competitively, particularly with all that it is lacking. The base starts at $22,850 and goes up to $29,145 for the Trailhawk trim. In comparison, the Hyundai Venue starts out at $18,750 and fully loaded is cheaper than the Renegade’s base model at $22,050.

The Trailhawk trim makes the Jeep Renegade better

Jeep Renegade SUVs displayed on a dealership sales lot
Jeep SUVs at dealership | Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

While the Trailhawk trim is the most expensive, it is also the only one worth considering. It is made for off-road adventures with integrated tow hooks to get you pulled out of any less than desirable positions. The Renegade overall handles great and has a fairly smooth ride, as well as quick braking and great maneuverability.

It also comes with a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 177-hp. It comes standard with four-wheel drive with a crawler gear, as well as the Selec-Terrain feature to adapt to whatever terrain lies ahead. It is the best Jeep Renegade trim for 2021, and it is well-suited for outdoor adventures. And it is not boring. At least according to MotorTrend.

The Trailhawk trim even made MotorTrend’s list of the least boring SUVs

In an effort to raise awareness for fun SUVs, MotorTrend put out a list of the least boring SUVs. And guess what? The 2021 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk made the top 10.

They even said that “no other cute ute makes close to the same all-terrain effort as this tiny Trail-Rated Jeep.” The Trailhawk has the company of SUVs such as the Ford Bronco Sport, the Dodge Durango, the Ford Explorer, and the Mini Countryman Cooper S. It even shares the list with a close relative, the Jeep Wrangler. 

We previously wrote about how there are just too many trim levels for the Jeep Renegade (eight) and wondered if it would have a negative impact on the Renegade. Honestly, Jeep would do themselves a favor and eliminate all the trims except for the Trailhawk. Make things easier for buyers with fewer decisions to make. And the Trailhawk is really the best trim, and the only one that should be available. It takes the Jeep Renegade from a C-list celebrity to a B-list celebrity.


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