A silver 2022 Ford EcoSport is shown off-roading at sunset.

Luxury Off-Roading: The 2022 Ford EcoSport vs 2022 Jeep Renegade

Is luxury off-roading a thing? Of course, we know that there are certainly vehicles with luxury trims that also have some decent off-roading features, just as there are some off-roading vehicles that aren’t too shabby in the design sector. But can a vehicle be both a true off-roader and a true luxury vehicle? To better answer this question, let’s do a comparison of the 2022 Ford EcoSport vs 2022 Jeep Renegade. Ford is known for doing pretty much everything well but specifically has a taste for luxury design (Ford is responsible for the Mustang, after all), while Jeep is indubitably known as the off-roading brand. So do either one of these vehicles accomplish luxury off-roading, or do they offer one while feigning the other?

The Incentive

Before we dig into the nitty-gritty details, I suppose it’s worthwhile to think about the incentive behind such a vehicle. Many people would not want to take the vehicle they’re dirtying up on the trail out for a night on the town, much less would want to pay extra money for luxury features that may not be relevant if the point is to be out off-roading. Likewise, many people in the luxury car market may not be looking to hit the trails anytime soon and are just looking for something nice in which to cruise around. But why wouldn’t you want to broaden your vehicle experience?

Some people may have the option of owning separate vehicles–one for off-roading, one for commuting, nights out, and so on. But, if you can get the whole job done with one vehicle, why spend the extra money and take up extra space, if that’s even an option at all? For those who only have one vehicle, though, it can be difficult to choose between the opportunity for thrills and a luxury in-vehicle experience. Off-roading capability drastically affects the driving experience, while luxury design drastically affects the driving experience. So, if you can have a luxury off-roader, then you can get the ultimate driving experience.

A red 2022 Jeep Renegade is shown off-roading in a desert.

Off-Roading Grit

The 2022 Ford EcoSport takes its off-roading capability from its Intelligent 4WD system. This drivetrain system goes beyond the average 4WD system because it is, after all, intelligent. But how is it intelligent? Well, it monitors both your driver input and the road itself to make sure that it is distributing torque as best as possible according to the circumstances.

But, when you’re off-roading, it doesn’t do much good if your vehicle can only monitor road conditions, because there is no road. So, the intelligent 4WD system responds accordingly by including the Ford Terrain Management System, which makes itself very flexible to different terrains, including mud, ruts, sand, snow, gravel, and grass. That covers a good number of scenarios, depending on where the trail takes you, so you certainly won’t be hurting for dynamic terrain handling in the 2022 EcoSport.

Now, it probably won’t surprise anybody that the 2022 Renegade cleans up in the off-roading sector. It is a Jeep, after all, and if Jeep does one thing well, it’s off-roading. If you’re looking to maximize off-roading capability in the Renegade, the Trailhawk is the trim to look at, as it has achieved the official status of being Trail Rated after rigorous testing.

Traction and clearance are the names of the game when it comes to the Renegade Trailhawk, thanks to its exclusive Jeep Active Drive Low 4X4 system. The big benefit of the Renegade’s off-roading capability is its capacity for water fording. Because the vehicle has sealed off its electrical connections and any open segments are moisture-resistant, the vehicle is able to trudge in significant amounts of water.

So, yes, the Renegade is a serious off-roader. But there is nothing un-serious about trudging through mud, ruts, sand, snow, gravel, and grass. Water fording is probably not something you would want to do a lot of in an SUV like this anyway, so the inclusion of this does not diminish the EcoSport’s off-roading capability. And, of course, the off-roading capability is only half of achieving luxury off-roading.

Luxury Design

We’ll let the Renegade go first this time. Obviously, any Jeep is going to be fashionable with its iconic round headlamps and plated grille. But, you spend your time inside of the vehicle, so let’s see what’s inside. The Renegade can certainly get stylish, especially in the Trailhawk trim. With sleek black colors contrasted by optional red stitching and Trailhawk-embroidered seats, you’ll definitely be riding in style. The red and black combination cultivates a fierce and athletic mood that will get drivers and passengers pumped up for an off-road adventure.

Overall, however, the Renegade’s design is mainly focused on performance and athleticism, placing practicality above luxury. There are some great features, such as a heated steering wheel and heated exterior mirror, but not necessarily features to compete with leading luxury vehicles. It’s not that the Renegade is not a luxury vehicle, but I think you’ll understand my hesitation once we take a look at the 2022 EcoSport.

The 2022 EcoSport really goes out of its way to give the driver and passengers not just a refined in-vehicle experience but a heightened in-vehicle experience. Lighting is possibly the most important component of setting the mood, which is why the EcoSport comes with available ambient lighting. This alone, aside from all of the other brilliant luxury features, really gives the vehicle an elegant feeling. But elegance is not the only mood that the EcoSport can set because it is you who sets the mood; these LED lights can change colors according to your input. With seven color options (red, blue, purple, orange, aqua, white, or yellow-green), the EcoSport has many moods, and you’ll be ready for any occasion. And the ambient lighting is only the beginning!

With the SE Appearance Package, the EcoSport can provide even more amazing luxury features, including cloth seating with orange copper accents and an orange instrument panel appliques. This is a luxury vehicle like you’ve never seen before. Between the ambient lighting and these appliques, the EcoSport truly understands the importance of beauty, color, and lighting in crafting a desirable in-vehicle experience. Both the Renegade and the EcoSport provide some great luxury features, but there’s no question about which one is greater.

A blue 2022 Ford EcoSport is shown from the rear parked in front of a mountain during a 2022 Ford EcoSport vs 2022 Jeep Renegade comparison.

Who Wins?

So, it seems like the Renegade excels in off-roading, and the EcoSport excels in luxury design. This is factually true in a strict but separated sense; it is not about one excelling above the other, but they both excel in their own way. While Jeep is known for its off-roading capability, the Ford EcoSport provides very capable off-roading capability in the Intelligent 4WD system, and there is no question about which vehicle provides the better luxury features.

Both of these vehicles are capable off the road, but the EcoSport stands far above the Renegade when it comes to styling and design. So, if you are looking for a true luxury off-roader, then, between these two vehicles, the EcoSport is probably the way to go. With amazing ambient lighting, beautiful and intricate design features, and Intelligent 4WD, the vehicle provides a full and well-rounded driver experience.

This is not a battle of good vs bad. Both the EcoSport and the Renegade are great cars, and I can’t imagine that drivers will be complaining about either. But, the facts don’t lie, and the EcoSport has the capability and the styling. We acknowledged that the incentive is to have a vehicle that can get the whole job done, whether you’re on the trail or in the town, and this is what the EcoSport provides.