Base Price: $17,995
Price as Tested: $27,140
EPA City/HWY: 21/29 mpg
Engine: 2.4L inline-4 
Power: 180hp, 175lb-ft
Drivetrain: 4WD

Walking through the aisles of a pet store can often elicit an “aww” when you find that one special puppy pawing the glass, barking and doing anything it can to grab your attention. It just wants to be loved. 

The Jeep Renegade is that puppy. 

The 2015 Renegade Trailhawk 4X4 I picked up from Bill Snethkamp Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram was already screaming for attention with its bright “Colorado Red” paint.

This K9 isn’t the typical Jeep to say the least. You either love or hate the boxy exterior styling. I for one love it.

At the front, there are two circular puppy eye headlights staring at you — begging you to take it on an adventure.

Being the Trailhawk edition, the Renegade is anxious to get its optional Goodyear paws dirty. With this trim, the Renegade gains two red tow hooks at the front and one in the back, an increased ground clearance (compared to other trims) and Jeep’s famous “Trail Rated 4X4” badge to increase its off-the-street cred.

The Trailhawk edition also throws in a painted black roof, matte grey mirrors, tinted badges and cool 17-inch aluminum wheels with black inserts to give the exterior nice contrast.

But this Renegade isn’t all business. In the pupils of its headlights, there’s an embedded grille-and-headlights logo. This detail is also found on the “X” styled taillights — inspired by the side of a jerrycan fuel container. 

But these “Easter eggs” don’t stop on the exterior.

There are so many of them, you may discover less obvious details over the course of ownership.

SPOILER ALERT: There’s a little original Bantam Jeep driving up the right side of the windshield. The tachometer has a splash of dirt instead of the typical redline. Every speaker on the door panels has a mold of the seven-slot Jeep grille and headlights. There’s one on the inside of the trunk and one behind the rear-view mirror — we get it, you’re a Jeep, chill out Renegade.

But with those small details, the interior is just such a happy place to be.

Whimsical details aside, the Renegade has a very upright dashboard. Smack in the middle there’s a standard (on the Trailhawk trim) five-inch touchscreen. Despite its relatively small size, touch points are nicely sized and quick to respond — creating a seamless operating system.

What makes the center screen look so small is the huge seven-inch “TFT Color Display” in between the two analog gauges. This screen can display a variety of things from radio settings, tire pressure (with a s’cute little Renegade graphic model) and a digital display of your speed.

The designers also clearly had the younger driver in mind. In front of the shifter, there’s a USB-port and AUX input with a convenient shelf below to lay your phone.

Below the screen, there are big and straightforward climate, radio tuning and volume controls that can be easily operated while driving.

Sitting in it’s nicely bolstered front-seat, you may think you’re navigating a much larger SUV.

There’s more than an iPhone 5 (sitting upright) worth of headroom. The exterior mirrors are almost the size an average sized head. The dash and hood appear to extend out farther than they actually do. There’s a beefy shifter controlling the nine-speed automatic transmission and a thick-rimmed steering wheel.

Although there are some hard plastics here and there, the Renegade displays quality where it counts.

Nice quality leather covers the shift knob, steering wheel and center and side armrests. Soft touch plastics cover the majority of the dashboard and there’s sporty red accent pieces throughout the cabin and red stitching found in the seats, center armrest and steering wheel. 

Moving the steering wheel produces a surprising amount of road feel — combining a nice amount of heft and precision. Even with its slight body role in the corners, driving the Renegade is sure to put a smile on your face.

Sadly, the 2.4-liter inline-four-cylinder isn’t as satisfying. Although the 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque on tap is sufficient for everyday driving, the engine make’s the driver well aware it’s a four banger with its course sounds and vibrations sent into the cabin. But with four-wheel drive, it delivers decent fuel economy — 21-mpg city and 29-mpg highway.

Despite its short wheelbase, the Renegade ride remains smooth and quiet — albeit some slight wind noise at highway speeds. 

Sitting in the backseat, passengers benefit from the cavernous headroom and good amount of wiggle room — making the backseat a relatively nice place to be.

With the trunk’s boxiness, this Jeep’s trunk is almost exactly five North Face backpacks wide, two deep and one and a half tall.

All in all, the Renegade is one of the most fun filled and charismatic options in the ever-growing small SUV market. Just looking at it makes me smile. It may poop on your expensive carpet or chew on your favorite pair of shoes, but you just can’t stop loving it. 

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Bill Snethkamp of Lansing
6131 S Pennsylvania Ave, Lansing, MI 48911
(517) 394-1200