Jeep’s 2015 Renegade Is a Small Jeep Done Right
Jeep (FIATY.PK) has had some mixed results with its products of late. The brand overall is performing exceptionally well, and is a driving force behind the Chrysler Group’s recent growth, thanks to strong sales of the new and popular — yet polarizing — Cherokee crossover. The Grand Cherokee has been doing quite well also, and the Wrangler continues to carry its own weight.
However, recent Consumer Reports studies were not so kind to Jeep’s entry-level smaller offerings, the Patriot and the Compass. Both of these cars are more built for urban settings and operate at an arm’s length from their trail-rated brethren, and regardless on one’s personal feelings for the cars, it’s hard to deny that they are perhaps not made of the same mettle as their siblings.
Fortunately, that’s where the new 2015 Jeep Renegade comes in. Jeep seems to have identified its soft spots, and with the Renegade, it’s looking to firm them up and bring Jeep’s reputation of off-roading prowess and on-road manners to all corners of its product range.
Right off the bat, the Renegade looks like the Jeep that Jeep is hoping it will be. It features the necessary seven-slot grille, the signature round headlamps, which are juxtaposed by its squarish, boxy body — one punctuated by flowing side profile lines and rounded corners. It’s built on Fiat’s new 4X4 platform, and is meant to go head-to-head with the likes of the Nissan Juke, the Kia Soul, and other compact crossover utility vehicles.
Perhaps more importantly, though, is that the Renegade is being developed as a global vehicle. It will be Jeep’s entry-level option here in the States, and will be sold in numerous countries — over 100, to be more specific — globally using Fiat’s well-established network.
Depending on the market, Fiat is preparing a slew of power trains — 16 potential combinations in total, in fact. It’s apparent that Fiat wants the Renegade to appeal to just about everyone. There are six engine options, but only two of those will be seeing action in the U.S. Buyers can choose from the 2.4 liter Tigershark four-cylinder on the higher end, which is found in many Dodge and Chrysler products; it produces 184 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, and is coupled to a nine-speed automatic transmission, with standard two-wheel drive and optional four-wheel drive.
The entry-level engine is Fiat’s 1.4 liter turbocharged four from the 500L, which is good for 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. If you think trail-blazing or even modest off-roading might be in your Renegade’s future, we’d recommend going with the Tigershark, though the 1.4 sets a reasonable argument with its higher torque rating.
Since it is a Jeep, it can use the Jeep Active Drive, in which a rear-axle and power transfer unit can disconnect to boost economy, though it can still deliver torque to all four wheels when needed, Autoblog points out, adding that 100 percent of engine torque can be directed to any one wheel.
Buyers can also get Jeep’s Active Drive Low AWD system, which gives the Renegade a 20-to-1 crawl ratio and earns the baby ute Jeep’s Trail Rated badge. The Renegade will feature Auto, Snow, Sport, and Sand/Mud settings (for the four-wheel-drive models), while the Trailhawk trimmed model will also have a Rock mode.
The Renegade boasts an unusual balance of a rugged demeanor combined with a sort of miniature cuteness that conveys the adorable innocence of a little sibling who thinks they’re bigger than they are. We have no doubt that the Renegade will be a blast off the asphalt, but the big question facing the Renegade now is whether it can lead a double life and perform as it needs to on the road to improve on the Patriot and Compass.
The Rengade is also chalk-full of fun features, such as Jeep’s My Sky, which allows owners to essentially remove the roof that opens up the car as per Jeep’s multi-decade legacy of removing as much body paneling as possible to ensure the best outdoor experience possible. Inside, the Renegade can be equipped with Jeep’s Uconnect Access, Uconnect touchscreen radios, and “the segment’s largest full-color instrument cluster.” Up to 70 advanced safety and security features can be loaded on as well.
It’s still unknown as to when the Renegade will reach American shores, as Jeep is waiting to clarify. The cars will be built in Fiat’s Malfi, Italy factory, and the power trains will come in from the U.S., Italy, and Brazil.