It’s been about two months since I took the reins of the 2017 Jeep Renegade Sport 4×4. Because the compact SUV’s interior (specifically the interior’s poor fit for a young family) is how I ended up with the keys in the first place, that’s where much of my focus has been in the early stages of the loan. The early verdict: a combination of ooh, oh, meh, and ugh.
Beginning with the first time you sit in the Renegade’s driver’s seat, you’ll notice little stylistic flourishes throughout the cabin that remind you of Jeep’s heritage. There’s a little World War IIera jeep on the bottom of the windshield, a topographical map in a storage bin, a message reminding you to go explore on the push-button ignition, and a big “SINCE 1941” emblazoned above the infotainment screen. (Yes, I’m aware of the it’s-not-a-real-Jeep crowd; I’ll get more into that in the coming months.) These little touches add nothing to the Renegade’s functionality, but it’s fun to hop in your car and notice something new every now and then. There are still no doubt several I have yet to uncover.
I’ve also found the Renegade’s interior adequately spacious. By its very nature, the little Jeep won’t blow you away with its rear-seat legroom or cargo-carrying capacity. But I’ve been leery of putting anyone in the back seat ever since visual assets manager Brian Vance’s struggles with a child seat. As it turns out, normally proportioned adults can fit back there just fine. Would it work as Porter family transportation on a long road trip? Absolutely not. But for everyday driving with everyday people, the second row is plenty functional.
Perhaps my biggest compliment to the interior so far, though, is that I rarely think about it. It’s a simple space that serves its purpose. What it lacks in groundbreaking features, it makes up for by (mostly) doing what it needs to do without frustrating digital volume knobs, complicated menus, or contrived “features” to replace things that have worked just fine for decades. A lot of people might not go ooh when they realize they haven’t complained in a while, but for me, that stands out.
That’s not to say its interior is perfect, though. I spent my first few hundred miles in the Jeep angry at what seemed to be inexplicably poor rearward visibility. I was used to a big, boxy SUV with huge windows and great sightlines, and the Renegade just doesn’t offer that.
Other interior complaints, some mine and some resulting from copy editor Mary Kaleta’s road trip to San Diego: The turn signal is kind of loud, manually adjusting your seat in 2017 is kind of annoying, and the mirrors in the sun visors are so small and so far away that it’s virtually impossible to touch up your makeup before you hit the road.
Finally, I have one major gripe. Our loaner lacks navigation, which is fine. I use my phone’s nav over whatever most cars have anyway. But connecting my phone to the infotainment system is beyond frustrating.