With our long-term fleet, we aim for about 20,000 miles over the course of a year. Anything less, and we feel like we’ll miss out on some of the typical warts a new car might reveal as it ages into a slightly used one. And without exposing potential long-term points of frustration, what’s the point of a long-term test?
Unfortunately, with only a few months left with the Renegade I’m still only about halfway there. Nevertheless, I’ve been behind the wheel enough to notice a few things starting to go awry.
The most obvious has been the buttons. Half the time they just don’t work. Not in the sense that they’re broken. More like they just feel cheap, and if you don’t press them just right, sometimes it doesn’t register. This is especially noticeable on those controls mounted on the steering wheel. Trying to adjust the volume, for example, sometimes takes me several taps more than it should. A major issue? Not at all. But it’s annoying. I’ve pressed a lot of buttons in my day, and rarely have I experienced this. To be fair, this also happens on other vehicles in this price range, but it’s inexcusable there, too.
A similar annoyance lives in the turn signal stalk. In many new cars, you can tap up or down to flash your turn signal a few times to change lanes. And in many new cars, this works flawlessly. But in the Renegade, I often find this more trouble than it’s worth. A driver has to hit it just right. Not enough pressure, and like the buttons, it doesn’t register. This is also more of an annoyance than a problem—the tap-to-pass signal feature seems to fall in the “fixing problems that don’t exist” category to me—but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s a small frustration that could become a major irritation if I were driving this Jeep for another several years.
Finally, a return to one of my earliest criticisms of the Renegade: issues connecting with Bluetooth. In my first update, I said it was slow to connect. That’s still the case, but now I have 10 months of experience to confirm it wasn’t just user error. The dated Uconnect system can take more than 15 seconds to connect to my phone. Manually going through the connection steps does sometimes speed things up, but that requires seven taps of the screen. Seven! When you can slide into so many new cars and have your phone connect almost immediately, it’s beyond annoying to have to sit and wait in the Renegade. (One part of my initial criticism that was user error: I said it was sometimes difficult to tell if a phone was connected via Bluetooth or a USB cable when both were enabled. Turns out there is a small icon to indicate your connection on the screen. Still frustrating that you even have to think about it, but it’s not as bad as I initially suspected.)