Anytime you see a Subaru or Jeep on the road, you immediately think they’re armed with rugged capabilities to propel them through any terrain with absolute agility. This is true, even when comparing some of the smallest members of these esteemed brands. The subcompact Subaru Crosstrek SUV and the Jeep Renegade have been trusted commuter companions for drivers for years. Whether they’re traversing city streets or dusty trails, both perform among the best.
So, when it comes to the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek vs 2023 Jeep Renegade, which subcompact superstar can hold its own in a variety of driving conditions? We’re putting these two SUVs to the test to discern which model comes out on top when traveling anywhere, from packed city streets to ice-laden mountain roads and everywhere between.
When traveling through the city, it’s common to experience stop-and-go traffic, bustling streets, and an all-around more hectic ride. This is why commuters tend to gravitate toward small-size vehicles that they can easily whip in and out of these cramped avenues without issue. The Subaru Crosstrek and the Jeep Renegade are both sized well for commuters—small enough to navigate throngs of pedestrians while loaded with comfort features to make the time stuck in traffic more enjoyable. Efficiency plays a huge role in city driving, and this is where we begin to see these two models drifting apart.
The Crosstrek easily outperforms the Renegade on the matter of fuel efficiency, with three powertrains available, including a hybrid to seriously maximize fuel economy during challenging drives. Getting up to 27 MPG in the city, as opposed to 23 MPG with the Renegade, the Crosstrek is far more capable of stretching your dollar when it comes to the cost and frequency of refueling. Another area where the Crosstrek tops the Renegade is its interior, which includes ergonomically-friendly appointments to heighten driving comfort. From ample legroom to quality materials, you’re in for a cushy ride in this Subaru staple. Unfortunately for the Renegade, its quirky styling simply doesn’t provide the practical comfort that drivers need during hectic commutes.
Highway driving can be just as stressful as city driving, especially when traveling alongside drivers who hurtle down the interstate with their phones in their hands. Fortunately, both of these subcompact SUVs have safety features equipped to deliver a safe and secure experience on busy freeways. Subaru is known for designing some of the safest vehicles on the road, armed with EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. This system includes an array of standard advanced safety features to keep you safe and alert during your drive, no matter what’s happening around you. From pre-collision braking—to mitigate damage when the car in front of you comes to an unexpected halt—to blind spot technology that helps you change lanes safely and accurately, the Crosstrek is always watching out for you.
You will also find a swell suite of standard and available safety features in the Renegade, which is why so many travelers trust this Jeep favorite on the highway and beyond. Where these two differ, again, is efficiency. When you find yourself splitting your travel between crawling on a backed-up interstate and cruising open asphalt, this contrast can take away from the degree of fuel efficiency you’re capable of enjoying. Fortunately, the Crosstrek can get up to 34 MPG on the highway—as opposed to the Renegade’s 29 MPG—which allows you to extend the time and distance between your gas station stops.
It’s also important to note that anything can happen when you’re traveling on the highway, which is why you want a vehicle that’s built to last. After all, the last thing you want is to break down halfway to your destination. Subaru is known for designing some of the most reliable vehicles on the road, with 97% of Subaru Crosstreks purchased within the last ten years still on the road today.
It’s pretty tough to compare to a Jeep when it comes to off-roading, but Subaru does a great job of keeping up with its competition. With the energetic 2.5L Boxer four-cylinder engine available at your beck and call, the Crosstrek is ready to deliver a power-packed performance, even when the terrain becomes combative. Pumping out 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque, this subcompact adventurer can tackle truly unruly obstacles, whether they reside on backroads, trails, or anywhere else you dare to venture. Plus, with 8.7 in of ground clearance, the Crosstrek is able to navigate through aggregated rocks, coursing water, and more without missing a beat. The Crosstrek also offers X-MODE with Hill Descent Control to maintain precision in steep environments and dual-function X-MODE to maneuver through tricky terrain like mud and deep snow.
As you probably already know, when it comes to off-roading, you’re going to be wowed by a Jeep. From legendary 4×4 systems to a Selec-Terrain Traction Management System, the Renegade thrives in high-pressure environments. Unfortunately, this type of off-road talent comes at a cost. The Renegade wields a pretty hefty price tag compared to its competitors, like the Crosstrek. Drivers are also stuck with one engine type—a 1.3L turbocharged four-cylinder—with a lesser 177 hp output. The perk is that it can tow up to 2,000 lbs, which makes it appealing to those who need to haul small campers off-trail on their weekend getaway.
From black ice to rain-slicked streets, the weather can wreak havoc on any journey, hence why drivers are drawn to vehicles that showcase extreme finesse on tricky road conditions. You already know both of these SUVs can hold their own on the trails, but what about in the thick of bad weather?
Thankfully, the Subaru Crosstrek is equipped with one of the best all-wheel drive systems in the industry, the standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, which is located along the vehicle’s centerline to establish a more balanced and controlled ride. This system is constantly adjusting to changes in road conditions, delivering the right amount of power to all four wheels to enhance traction and stability, no matter where the Crosstrek is traveling.
The Renegade does a quality job of handling itself in a variety of dangerous road conditions, particularly because it’s designed for off-road driving. It’s been reported that Jeep’s Trail Rated models, like the Trailhawk, feel stiff on real roads, which diminishes the overall handling experience of a typical drive, especially when maneuvering through bad weather road conditions. Jeeps tend to be more attuned toward off-roading than toward tackling inclement weather. Although they’re able to endure these situations, the ride isn’t nearly as smooth and steady as most drivers would like.
2023 Subaru Crosstrek vs 2023 Jeep Renegade
There’s a common denominator throughout the four tests these competing subcompact SUVs have gone through: the Subaru Crosstrek comes out on top. From its high efficiency, perfect for commuters, to its plethora of top-performing safety features that protect travelers on the highway, the Crosstrek was clearly designed for the everyday driver. It can simultaneously hold its own off-road and handle inclement weather with ease. While the Renegade does a fabulous job of keeping its occupants safe, especially when barreling down the trails, it lags in efficiency and is limited to one meager engine type. Plus, for all its capabilities, it comes at a relatively steep price, which is why the Subaru Crosstrek is the far superior value for whatever driving adventure awaits you next.