We've tested the Jeep Renegade subcompact SUV on- and off-road, but we hadn't had a chance to see what kind of gas mileage it gets in the real world until a recent trip from Chicago to Detroit and back for the 2018 North American International Auto Show.
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Our test car for the trip was a 2017 Renegade Desert Hawk with an as-tested price of $33,665, including a $1,095 destination charge. The Desert Hawk is based on the off-road-oriented Renegade Trailhawk and adds unique design cues like exterior decals, functional elements like rock rails and a rubber cargo mat.
With its 2.4-liter four-cylinder Used Engines and nine-speed automatic transmission, the Desert Hawk gets an EPA-estimated 21/29/24 mpg city/highway/combined. It's not the most efficient version of the Renegade, but its Trailhawk features — like extra ground clearance and a low-range four-wheel-drive system — were nice to have in case we met a snowstorm along the way as we have in years past.
Well, the roads stayed clear, so the Desert Hawk's built-up four-wheel drive wasn't needed, and the SUV's real-world fuel economy was a little lower than I expected. The trip computer's average fuel economy was 24 mpg for both the trip to Detroit and the return drive to Chicago, and the pump calculations weren't much different: 23.7 mpg to Detroit and 23.2 mpg back. However, considering that most of the trip was on uncongested highways, I was surprised the readings weren't closer to the SUV's 29-mpg highway rating.
Getting closer to the 29-mpg estimate would help address one of the problems that cropped up on the trip: limited range. The Renegade has a 12.7-gallon gas tank, and with the fuel economy I was getting, you'd need to drive it nearly to empty to go just 300 miles. Apart from a sometimes choppy highway ride, however, the Renegade was a comfortable road-trip SUV.
Our trip from Chicago to Detroit and back covered a total of 548 miles, most of which were on the highway. Traffic was mostly light, and it was cold, with temperatures in the low teens to low 30s. I drove solo with the windows up (naturally), the heat on and cruise control off.
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