Write the Check, Grace
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD – Admit it! You dream about owning a new vehicle, you see various appealing models on the street and think how wonderful they would look in your driveway.
But there is always that consideration called THE BUDGET! Even in this season of comfort and joy that devil could quickly evaporate your dream.
Yet there is hope. What if I said Santa could bring home a base model Jeep that won’t fit down the chimney but would play nice with your checking account?
It is this weekend’s test vehicle, a Jeep Renegade. The smallest Jeep maintains the rugged look, can carry five, fits into even tight parking spots, and is fun to run around in.
So let’s cut to the chase. With a turbocharged 1.4 liter four with 160 horsepower and 184 lb. ft. of torque, a 6- speed manual transmission, an abundance of storage space for its size and the ability to carry five, you can get into this Renegade for $23,080.
And that’s a deal considering the average transaction price for all vehicles sold in November was $33,801 according to Kelly Blue Book. So that is ten grand plus in your wallet. Of course, your wallet would have to be bigger than mine to carry all that, but let’s move on.
For the money, the test Jeep had the “Power Air Group” for $1,495 that brings A.C., a power heated mirror, and Speed Control, plus another $595 for 16-inch x 6.5 inch aluminum wheels.
There was a base AM/FM radio with four speakers, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, manual six-way adjustable driver’s seat with four-way adjustable passenger seat and power windows. And enough trim so it didn’t look like a bare bones choice.
You will quickly come to admire the Renegade’s size, some 15 inches shorter than its upscale bro, the Cherokee, making it easy to zip around in.
Where it tops the Cherokee is in width, by one inch. That gives you 50.8 cubic feet of storage with the second row 60/40 seats folded, and that is more than you might expect when viewing the Renegade from the outside.
The manual stick enables the operator extract all that is available from the base engine that is given the job of moving a hefty 3,044 pound vehicle over the road. With 160 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 184 lb. ft. of torque at 2,500 – 4,000 rpm let’s say that acceleration was not its forte. It is not a slug, but double downshifts were needed occasionally to get all of the power available, so a few more horses under the hood would not be a bad idea.
Yet I would take the stick any day over the always searching for the right gear 9-speed automatic offered in other Jeeps.
The EPA rates the test Jeep at 24 mpg city, 31 highway, and 27 overall. I came in at 22.
I enjoyed the lack of complicated info systems that require an evening’s worth of reading in a separate 600 page or so manual. You can actually get into this Jeep and drive way without a course from a dealer’s rep on how everything works.
The seats were okay on a long drive and the interior was quiet for its class, yet I would rate them a touch below the seats offered in the Cherokee.
Two people can fit in the second row and three are not out of the question, but perhaps not for that long distance trek to Juneau.
Based on the Fiat 500X, the Renegade was a fun drive, and with 4-wheel drive is ready for whatever winter throws your way. Of course, there are always options to gussy up the Jeep and make it more your own.
If you are bargain hunting and want something new you can be a Renegade – shrugging off compact hatchbacks and sedans for a 4X4 ready to take you “over the river and through the woods” this holiday season.
(Note: Due to a technical disaster, the interior picture included here is of a more upscale model.)