The Jeep Renegade lives up to its name by bringing a rebellious new style to the compact CUV segment. Instead of taking a conventional approach, Jeep designers created a new design vocabulary for the Renegade that is defined by soft and tactile forms intersecting with rugged, functional details in a way that allows features such as a big passenger grab handle on the dash to not look out of place.

There also are eye-catching shades of red, orange and bronze trim colors that we’ve never seen before in an interior.  “The metallic bronze trim is stunning,” says editor Tom Murphy. 

Despite its nonconformist nature, the interior checks off all our scoresheet boxes in terms of being roomy, comfortable and having excellent ergonomics. And, unlike most of our 2015 test vehicles, the voice-activation system works flawlessly. But the attention given to interior details and design is truly spectacular for a vehicle in this class.

WardsAuto tests a lot of vehicles where designers sweated over details, but we can’t recall an interior where they seemed to have so much fun obsessing.

The Renegade makes you grin the minute you get behind the wheel. Instead of a standard red zone on the tachometer, there’s a paintball-like splatter. Aircraft-like “no step” signs are stamped on the running boards. “Since 1941” is embossed on the clamp surrounding the touchscreen, a slogan that proudly refers to Jeep’s long history of rugged individualism. The whole interior aesthetic “Conveys a sense of fun and suggests adventure,” says editor Jim Irwin.

Numerous other whimsical design “Easter eggs” are scattered throughout the cabin, from outlines of the original 1941 Jeep’s iconic grille to topographical maps of famous off-roading sites embossed or etched on various surfaces. Their purpose is to surprise and delight, but also to connect drivers to Jeep’s rich brand heritage.

DNA from Jeep siblings can be found everywhere: the grab handle that dominates the passenger side of the instrument panel clearly comes from the Wrangler branch of the family, while the stylish trim and high-quality materials seem related to the sophisticated older siblings, the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. Which Jeep it is most closely related to probably depends on the trim level.     

Our loaded-up, finely appointed $33,000 Limited 4x4 model had more Grand Cherokee features than most, which led Irwin to officially dub it “Grand Cherokee’s badass little brother.” 

dwinter@wardsauto.com