2015 Jeep Renegade 4X4 SUV at a glance
BODY STYLE: Five-passenger compact SUV
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, 4X2/4X4-wheel-drive
ENGINE:1.4-litre SOHC turbo inline four-cylinder (160 hp, 184 lb/ft) with six-speed manual; 2.4-litre SOHC inline four-cylinder (180 hp, 175 lb/ft) with nine-speed automatic transmission
FUEL ECONOMY: TBA
CARGO: 524 litres (18.5 cu ft) with the rear seat up, 1,438 litres (50.8 cu ft) folded
TOW RATING: Up to 907 kg (2,000 lb)
PRICE: Sport 4X2/4X4, $19,995/$25,995; North 4X2/4X4, $25,995/$27,495; Trailhawk, $30,995; Limited, $31,995
What’s Best: Fun looking and fun driving little SUV with true Jeep off-road capability
What’s Worst: Trailhawk model lumbers on the road but, than, amazes off-road
What’s Interesting: How quickly Fiat and Chrysler have merged synergies for exciting new products. Can a Maserati-powered Chrysler super GT be that far away?
HOLLISTER, CA: Jeep has tried small 4X4s in the past with mixed success, but with the 2015 Renegade, a winning formula just might have been found.
Jeep Compass and Liberty did the job but had no panache, something the new Renegade has in abundance.
All the styling that makes a Jeep a Jeep is included like the round headlights, seven-slot grille and trapezoidal wheel arches.
But after that, everything goes wild.
There are no less that 11 exterior colours such as Anvil, Omaha Orange, Colorado Red and Mojave Sand. Reds and oranges are used in the interior ventilation and speaker surrounds. Look closely at the speaker surround and you’ll see the Jeep round lights and grille motif imprinted on it.
On the square, Wrangler-like taillights there is a centre backup light shaped like an “X” that is a stylized, military-style “Gerry Can.” But look a little closer on the backup light and you’ll find that jeep lights and grille motif on the lens.
On the tach, there is an orange “splatter” color where the redline starts and the cloth seats on the Renegade have a graphic map of the off-road trail system in Moab, Utah.
Another standout feature is the My Sky roof that consists of panels over the front seat and back seats, both of which can be removed and stowed beneath the cargo floor for true open air driving.
While it uses engines and transmissions from Fiat and is built in Italy, it is all Jeep with its own platform and is heavy engineered for the 4X4 capability Jeep buyers want and expect.
Borrowed from the new Jeep Cherokee, Renegade comes with Jeep Active Drive, which is dedicated four-wheel-drive with a disconnecting rear axle that provides 4X4 traction when needed, but reverts to front-wheel traction under normal road conditions for improved fuel economy.
This system includes Jeep Selec-Terrain with modes selected by a rotary knob. These are Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud. If you opt from the off-road optimized Trailhawk model, there is a Rock mode which provides Jeep Trail Rated ability, which means it can go just about anywhere.
I drove the Trailhawk version at the press launch from San Francisco to Hollister and it not only looks the part, but definitely can do all the things Jeep says it can do.
It has Active Drive Low for a 20:1 crawl ratio. There is 205 mm (8.1 in) of wheel travel and it can ford water up to 482 mm (19 in deep).
Besides the 4X4, 4X2 (front drive) is also found on the 2015 Renegade and the base Sport and North models.
They start with a 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder with 160 hp and 184 lb/ft of torque with a six-speed manual transmission, no automatic.
The Limited and Trailhawk are fitted with a larger 2.4-litre four-cylinder with 180 hp and 175 lb/ft of torque with a nine-speed automatic. The powertrain is also available on the Sport and North models, with Jeep expecting upward of 50 per cent of sales from the North 4X4 with automatic.
At this writing NRCan was still completing fuel numbers but Jeep expects both engines to exceed (US) 35 mpg. An Eco Mode is also available to help increase fuel efficiency.
Jeep claims it is first in class for a number of things; but really, there isn’t anything in its class right now.
I talked with Jeep officials and names such as MINI Countryman, Buick Encore and Nissan Juke came up, but they were never designed to go where the Renegade can.
During the press launch I drove out to Hollister in a Trailhawk which felt heavy on the highway, probably because of the added heft of the Active Drive Low system for a full weight of 1,583 kg (3,490 lb) and a highish drag ratio of 0.370, thanks to the upright windshield which, of course, is another Jeep styling cue.
The heavy feeling, of course, vanished on the sand and earth roads at Hollister. Seeing how that Trailhawk could climb up over boulders and glide down earthen paths on Hill Descent Control that were too steep for me to walk down impressed me.
Coming back I drove a Sport 4X2 with manual and it was like a different vehicle.
Very good on the twisting road back, the steering was light and direct and the six-speed box was quick and the clutch take up easy to work in the bumper-to-bumper traffic snarl on California 101, which makes our Hwy. 401 seem like a drive in the country.
A lot of its prowess on the road was also due to the more compliant all-season tires, not the high sidewall, aggressive tread of those on the Trailhawk. And the 4X2 was also 211 kg lighter, which has a lot to do with it.
I can see where the North 4X4 with its decoupling rear axle on the highway and undoubted Jeep ability off-road ability will definitely be the volume model.
Being a true SUV, utility is important and the Renegade delivers with up to 907 kg (2,000 lb) towing. Cargo capacity is 524 litres (18.5 cu ft) with the rear 60/40 split rear seat up and 1,438 litres (50.8 cu ft) folded. A 40/20/40 rear seat is optional and there is also a storage area beneath the rear cargo floor panel.
The latest connectivity is included with Uconnect that features a 5.0-inch or 6.5-inch touchscreen radio with integrated climate controls. Also available is Uconnect Voice Command with Bluetooth, navigation with 3D landmarks, city models and terrain maps and a seven-inch customizable in-cluster display centre.
From brink of extinction just a few years ago, Chrysler has vaulted to the Number Two best selling car company in Canada, finishing 2014 just a tad behind Ford.
With exciting new takes on cars and trucks like the 2015 Jeep Renegade, can Number One be far away?