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What is endearingly petite like a Kia Soul yet can be as tough as a Land Rover Defender? It’s the Jeep Renegade, which has eight different trim levels. Buyers can choose from the basic, cute Sport trim at $23,770 to the pricier offroader Trailhawk that begins at $29,290. 

The Renegade seems like a good choice for buyers who are in the market for a baby Jeep. Does it have the kind of mixed safety ratings that the Jeep Wrangler has? We’ll look at how the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have weighed in and we’ll also look at its key safety features.

How NHTSA rated the Jeep Renegade

Standard crash tests for any vehicle performed by the NHTSA include a frontal crash, side crash, and a rollover. The tests are rated on a one- to five-star basis.

The frontal collision test replicates a head-on crash between two similar vehicles, each moving at 35 mph. NHTSA gave the Renegade four stars out of five for this test.

NHTSA’s side crash test combines two simulated collisions. The first is an intersection crash between a standing vehicle and a one that is moving at 38.5 mph. The second is a crash into a stationary object such as a tree or utility pole. The overall rating for the Renegade was five stars.

In rollover testing, the compact Jeep SUV rated three stars. It passed the tip-over test, but its rollover risk was 22.80%.

Overall, the 2020 Jeep Renegade earned a four-star rating.

In December 2019, one recall was issued for the 2020 Renegade, which was for a cracked rear right brake caliper. If not repaired, this problem could reduce braking performance and increase the risk of an accident.

IIHS’ evaluations of the smallest Jeep

In 2019 the Jeep Renegade was an IIHS Top Safety Pick for models with specific headlight packages and the optional front crash prevention.

For the 2020 model year, the Jeep Renegade scored well in crashworthiness evaluations such as the small overlap front driver-side, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats.

The one exception was the small overlap test on the front passenger side, which was rated as acceptable. This test involves a crash in which the vehicle hits a five-foot-high barrier, which represents a fixed object like a utility pole. It’s an important test because if the vehicle’s outer edges aren’t protected enough, a real-world crash like this can result in passenger leg and foot injuries.

Crash avoidance and mitigation is another area that the IIHS evaluates. The safety organization tested the Renegade’s headlights, its front crash prevention systems, and child seat anchors.

IIHS’ test results for the headlights varied, depending on the model. Among the four headlight variations, the Latitude, Altitude, Limited, and High Altitude trims equipped with the LED Lighting Group and the Advanced Technology Group package earned a rating of acceptable. 

The Latitude, Altitude, Limited, and the Trailhawk equipped with the LED Lighting Group package plus the base High Altitude trim all had headlights that IIHS rated as marginal. 

Halogen headlights on the specific Renegade trims proved to be problematic in IIHS testing as well. The Sport, Latitude, Altitude, and Limited trims equipped with the Advanced Technology Group package were rated as poor. Poor halogen headlight ratings showed up in the base Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk trim levels as well. 

IIHS gave the Jeep Renegade a superior rating for its vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system. This system is a front collision warning option for the Sport, Latitude, and Limited trims. The Renegade has no vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system. 

The Renegade’s child seat anchors were rated as acceptable for LATCH ease of use.

The Jeep Renegade’s safety features

Standard safety features on all Jeep Renegade models include seven airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes, electronic roll mitigation, and daytime running lights. A rearview backup camera, a tire pressure monitoring system, an immobilizer, and brake assist are also standard features on the Renegade.

Blind-spot monitoring, cross-path detection, lane departure warning with lane keep assist are optional on all models. Also available are full-speed forward collision warning with active braking and adaptive cruise control. Renegade buyers can also opt for front and rear parking assist, rain-sensing wipers, and automatic high-beam headlights.

The final verdict

A blue Jeep Renegade on display at an auto show
A Jeep Renegade on display | Robert Hradil/Getty Images

With a four-star NHTSA rating, the Jeep Renegade is reasonably safe. But it could be better, especially in the areas of rollover risk and front-passenger crashworthiness. Its ratings are comparable to those given to the Jeep Wrangler.

And although it earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick in 2019, the award applied only to models with certain headlight packages and the optional front collision warning system. But since three out of four different headlight packages evaluated on the Renegade received a marginal or poor IIHS rating this year, it’s an area that Jeep might want to revisit soon.

Finally, the Jeep Renegade has comes up short in offering standard active safety features, compared to other compact SUVs. For example, the Mazda CX-3 has a five-star NHTSA rating and comes with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and low-speed automatic emergency braking. If the next year’s Jeep Renegade had these basics, that would be a great start to making it even safer. 


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