I love our Jeep Renegade. There are still people who want to row their own gears, and my husband and I are prime examples. When we were looking for something to replace our (excellent) 2004 Scion xB with, we knew it was going to be difficult to find a vehicle that checked all the boxes--stick, sporty, AWD or 4x4, interesting, sunroof, 5-seater, decent gas mileage. We went to the Mazda dealer but were completely underwhelmed by the driving experience in the Mazda6, and the Mazda3 with the options we wanted was out of our price range. we had driven a Fiat 500x as a rental and liked the way it felt, but not the 9-speed so much. We found a Renegade with pretty much all the options we wanted AND an interesting color for about $24,500 which was a steal.
The 6-speed actually has more torque than the 9-speed, and with a few modifications it makes more horsepower too. It feels and looks very Jeep-y. There is very little body roll in corners, the handling is great. The only thing we don't like is the electronic parking brake. The gas mileage is...ok. It is possible to get 25-25mpg in city traffic, but not easy. 32mpg on the highway is pretty easily attainable IF you don't go over 70mph.
The Renegade is not for everyone, but it works for us. It feels fun.