I tend to be easily impressed. Coming into the Renegade from my personal aging Ford Explorer, nearly every feature the little Jeep has was better than what I was used to. Unlike others on the staff, my personal measuring stick hadn’t yet been calibrated against everything else the new vehicle market has to offer. But after a year with the entry-level Jeep, that has changed, and I’ve found myself questioning the value of the base Sport model.
Our Renegade Sport 4×4 “starts” at about $21,000, $3,345 less than the Latitude, the next step up the trim ladder, and $6,845 less than the Trailhawk. But those numbers are deceiving: The Sport, it turns out, doesn’t come with A/C unless you pay for it. Every other Renegade trim includes that $1,495 option standard (and it’s a required addition to upgrade the Sport to an automatic transmission, which is also standard on the Trailhawk).
This brings what I consider the “real” base price for each trim level just close enough that I began to wonder if the base model is worth the discount. I quickly came to the conclusion that, at least for me, it is not. For just a little more cash, higher trims provide a lot more of the stuff I need.
This is, of course, nothing new—unless you’re a millennial stepping into a Renegade from a 20-year-old used car and haven’t spent much time exploring trim levels in the past (likely a decent portion of the Renegade market and definitely a big part of the Renegade marketing).
Base models are cheaper for a reason, and paying more gets you more. Often, though, paying less and getting less will still get you a vehicle you’ll be happy with. However, with the Renegade—even adding every option available on the Sport—I know I’d end up regretting not stepping up a trim level or three. Much of what I’d want simply isn’t offered on the base model.
The Sport does not make the 8.4-inch Uconnect system (the only system with onboard navigation) available. Nor can you get heated seats (a personal favorite), automatic headlights (a preventative measure against fiancées prone to draining batteries), or any advanced safety tech or driver aids.
As our executive editor said about his long-term 530i, we typically aim to test vehicles with all the bells and whistles so we can tell you which ones are worth the extra cash. In this case, though, our long-termer omitted quite a bit, and after nearly a year we can say we’d recommend you spring for those extras.