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|175-210||Max Torque (lb-ft)||177|
|50.8||Max Cargo Space (cu.ft.)||48.4|
Compact SUVs are popular for city dwellers who want the capability of an SUV in a smaller footprint but also for buyers seeking a less expensive SUV option. Several choices in the segment offer a range of capability and interior cargo space choices, but few can compare to what buyers will find in the Jeep Renegade. Chevy has its own version of a compact SUV in the Trax, and though it has pricing on its side, it doesn’t offer much in the way of features or trim levels. Comparing the 2021 Jeep Renegade vs 2021 Chevy Trax is likely to prove that even with a higher price, the Jeep Renegade is the better bargain for a compact SUV.
Both the Renegade and the Trax provide seating for five passengers, the option for all-wheel drive, and offer versatile cargo space on the interior. Special editions are available for both SUVs, as well as packages to add more available features if desired. Infotainment systems for each SUV are intuitive and easy to use with fairly large screens, and standard tech features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are equipped in both SUVs. Where the two compact SUVs differ shows up in capability and standard features for trims, as well as in standard driver-assist features. For the 2021 Trax, trim levels are sparse and can’t stand up to the offerings Jeep delivers in its many trims and special edition models.
Buying an SUV should afford certain characteristics that allow for enhanced capability over rough terrain, particularly in poor weather or over dirt roads, to say the least. Comparing the 2021 Renegade to the 2021 Trax may not be a fair contest in terms of which SUV has better handling for either pavement or off-road terrain. Starting with the engines, the 2021 Trax has only one engine choice: a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a six-speed automatic transmission. With a meager 155 horsepower from the engine, the Trax does not offer much in the way of acceleration power, nor does it offer much in the way of punch with only 177 lb-ft of torque.
In contrast, the 2021 Renegade comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 180 horsepower. The optional 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder generates 177 horsepower, and both engines are paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Either of the Jeep engines easily overpowers the Trax engine for capability, and both engines are rated for towing up to 2,000 pounds when equipped with all-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive is standard for two of four trims and provides even more capability for driving over off-road terrain. Though the Trax does offer all-wheel drive as an option, it is not rated for towing.
Four-wheel drive for the 2021 Renegade offers buyers a treat for those who love the idea of owning a scaled-back Wrangler. The Renegade comes with drive modes that allow for traversing mud, snow, and sand, and with the Trailhawk trim, you gain the ability for mild rock crawling. Also offered with the Trailhawk trim are several off-road features like hill descent control, skid plates, a raised suspension, and tow hooks to accommodate mild off-roading in true Jeep style. Even water fording up to 19 inches can be handled by the Trailhawk, which comes as no surprise with its Trail Rated badge. All-wheel drive also offers better capability when driving on roadways, and the 2021 Renegade is as comfortable on the pavement as it is in the mud or snow. When it comes to handling, the 2021 Trax manages well on roads, but Chevy’s compact SUV is best on the pavement rather than off-road.
Looking at the 2021 Trax trims, only two remain for the lineup, with the LT and LS being the scant options. Two special edition packages can be added, and the Midnight Edition and Sport Edition are the available choices. Unfortunately, the lack of choices continues with the 2021 Trax in terms of what it offers entry-level buyers. Sparse conveniences are included, with low-end features like single-zone climate control, a rearview camera, no keyless entry, and no push-button start. It does have a fairly comprehensive technology grouping of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a satellite radio trial subscription, Bluetooth, and OnStar capability, but technology is the high point of the 2021 Trax.
If you’re a buyer who likes choices, the 2021 Renegade is likely to delight you with its many trim levels and special sub-trims that add personality to your Jeep. Four trim levels are available for the 2021 Renegade, starting with the entry-level Sport, then moving up to the Latitude, Trail Rated Trailhawk, and the uppermost Limited. Within several of the trims are options for choosing special editions that add specific appearances or capabilities to the Renegade, with the Jeepster, Freedom, Islander, and 80th Anniversary editions available for 2021.
Entry-level trim features for the 2021 Renegade Sport are a little more generous with keyless open and push-button start, dual-zone climate control, heated exterior mirrors, and the same tech available in the Trax except the connected service is provided through Jeep’s Uconnect system. Both of the entry-level SUVs come with 16-inch wheels fitted with all-season tires, daytime running lights, and halogen headlights. Where Jeep takes the 2021 Renegade up a notch is with its standard safety features like Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path Detection, Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking, and even trailer sway damping for buyers who plan to tow small trailers. Not even the upper trim for the 2021 Trax comes with driver-assist features like these; they have to be added as a package.
Buying a compact SUV doesn’t mean you have to forfeit space. In fact, one of the benefits of going compact with an SUV is the cargo space and more open feel of the interior space over what you get in most sedans. With the 2021 Jeep Renegade, the interior space has a funky style with plenty of small item storage that highlights the sporty Jeep feel. Mesh pockets and a removable cargo floor are a pair of the storage solutions Jeep includes inside the Renegade. Seats at entry level are cloth and will adjust six ways for the driver and four ways for the front seat passenger. The tilting and telescoping steering wheel combined with the height-adjustable driver seat make it simple to get comfortable behind the wheel for long drives.
The 2021 Chevy Trax has a tilting and telescoping steering wheel and a four-way adjustable driver’s seat with a two-way adjustable passenger seat in front. Less adjustability means less comfort, and the interior doesn’t compare to the fun of Jeep’s tendency to include Easter Eggs in the design accompanied by splashes of color in most trims. Though the Trax does have a good height for road views and overhead space, the interior doesn’t hold the same interest as the Renegade. Chevy does a decent job of including some storage in the cabin, but nothing like a removable cargo floor or hidden storage for valuables. Cargo space isn’t as large in the Trax, either.
While the 2021 Trax holds to its claim for versatile cargo space with its 60/40 split-folding rear seats and fold-flat passenger seat, the 2021 Renegade has the same features with more cargo space. In total, the 2021 Renegade has up to 50.8 cubic feet of cargo space when all the seats are folded down, and the 2021 Trax has only 48.4 cubic feet total. Though the space is larger in the Renegade, the difference most likely to draw the eye of buyers is the way the seats fold down. In the Renegade, seats fold truly flat in the rear, and the front passenger seat is nearly as flat as the rear when folded. Trax seats are not as easy to fold as the Renegade. Overall, the 2021 Renegade has better cargo solutions and a more attractive interior than the 2021 Trax.