Ace of Base: 2018 Jeep Renegade Sport 4×2

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Yes, I know. You’re all yelling at me for displaying the machine shown above in that obnoxious shade of Nuclear Green (it’s actually Hypergreen, according to Jeep). However, the color’s very availability is what cemented today’s post after finding the bargain-basement Nissan Kicks is only available on the greyscale.

This irritates me to no end. I totally get why certain carmakers reserve eye-popping hues for higher-spec trims: transaction prices, profits, and the Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #10. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

The base model Renegade is not perfect. Chiefly, it is offered without air conditioning, a sin for which any vehicle costing $18,445 should not escape unpunished. Plus, there remains the uncomfortable fact that one is piloting a front-wheel-drive Jeep — a wince-inducing revelation given the brand’s legendary off-road history and trail cred.

If you can live with that, a base Renegade begins to look more appealing. Its 1.4-liter inline-four is helped along by a turbocharger, putting out 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Critically, and unlike most of its competition, a six-speed manual transmission is the other half of a Renegade Sport’s power team.

The little Jeepster has a couple of trick storage solutions inside, features that do not disappear on the el-cheapo trim. The rear cargo floor is height adjustable, multiplying the amount of space back there (assuming the items you want to store on the new lower level are not very tall). Tie downs abound for those practicing, or pretending to practice, an all-important ACTIVE LIFESTYLE.

Infotainment is definitely of the, erm, entry-level variety, but does include a 5.0-inch touchscreen running a version of FCA’s admittedly good Uconnect system — an interface that’s largely lag-free. This is more than can be said on some high-dollar offerings. There are USB and AUX ports, important since satellite radio is unavailable at this end of the spectrum. Air and cruise will dent your wallet to the tune of $1,495. I’m digging those base-spec black steel wheels, in case you’re wondering. You’re probably not.

Depending on the area of the country in which one lives, Jeep is currently willing to throw $3,000 on the hood of a base Renegade just for asking. Shrewd shoppers will surely bargain away a few more Simoleons. In those markets, a price of under $15,000 before destination and taxes is not out of the question.

The Jeep brand is red-hot these days, largely thanks to the Cherokee and Wrangler and Compass, so I wouldn’t be surprised to learn some of that shine is rubbing off on the Renegade in the form of slightly higher than expected resale prices – not Honda or Toyota levels, mind you, but perhaps better than even a couple of years ago.

I do think the Nissan represents a better overall value, as its true sticker price is well south of the Jeep’s, yet it’s pinned to a machine that includes air conditioning, cruise control, double the number of USB ports, yadda yadda yadda. Send a few of the base S models through a snazzily-equipped paint booth, Nissan, and you’ll find the Kicks in this series soon enough.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer may sell for less.