Some may remember me posting here some time ago and showing a lot of interest in the Renegade. Based on having seen and sat in one at a car show, I found the Renegade rather attractive with just the right size and features, and apparently well-made.
Last week I had a Renegade Limited for a two days and drove it for several hundred miles. Here are my impressions:
-carries 4 in comfort (as far as seats, leg- and headroom go)
-appears well-made with very good fit and finish, decent materials
-looks good (to me)
-gas mileage (I had the 2.4l)
-the ride (a bit on the unstable side due to steering (see The Bad) and handling
-the engine lacks 50 hp, an inline 5 or V6 would be better suited
-A-pillars are friggen huge and like the black box behind the interior rearview mirror it obstructs the view
-the very laggy shifting just kills the fun and turns this vehicle into a slow pig
-the atrocious electrically assisted steering; that car is all over the place as soon as you hit a bump in the road; makes for very jerky and unpleasant ride. My '85 Bucik wagon had a better feeling steering, and that thing was terrible - admittedly, I am used to and pretty much expect the handling and steering feel German sports sedans offer, so I am certainly biased.
-due to the lousy steering feel not suitable for long distance driving; I drove for two hours and had enough of it after 30 minutes
I really wanted to like this vehicle more than I ended up liking it, but I wouldn't buy one. Maybe as a second car that is not a primary vehicle, but as a short trip around-town type vehicle.
What Needs Fixing to Pique my Interest in the Future:
-more powerful engine
-manual 5-speed or a not-laggy slushbox
-better steering feel
I would agree with what you think is good but not so much on some of the other things. The A pillars are huge and I'm still getting use to them and I agree, for a fwd with a modern transmission at around 3100 lbs, the gas mileage isn't that great. My v6 Cherokee that has 90 more hp and probably weighs 500 lbs more gets about 1-2 less mpg and is a second quicker to 60mph.
With that being said, I'd like more power too but it's still class competitive. Jeep would want you to step up to a Cherokee or Wrangler if you want more power. If you want the 2.4 with a manual, looks like the new Compass can be had with that.
IMO the steering and ride is really good. I'm coming from a MINI Cooper S that also had really good steering but extremely stiff ride. While the Renegade isn't nearly as sporty, I don't miss the MINI as much as I thought I would. For being an inexpensive car, I think the renegade is pretty good. I know you admitted it but even thinking German while driving something less than $45k (or German) is going to set you up for disappointment.
I'm wondering if your rental never had any software updates. I've had a few quirky moments but nothing terrible with the tranny. I wish it would downshift faster when I step on it, otherwise I can totally live with it. Sorry to hear you were not much of a fan of it. No real big complaints from me with about 2k miles on the clock.