It’s been said you can never get enough of a good thing. When it comes to compact sport utility vehicles (SUVs), Jeep apparently agrees.
Expanding Jeep’s lineup for 2015, the Renegade was recently launched in San Jose, CA. It joins its diminutive siblings, the Compass and Patriot, at the smaller end of the Jeep spectrum, appealing to fans of Jeep capability, as always, but with better fuel economy. The Renegade sets itself apart with more of the Wrangler’s brawn.
Technically, the Renegade is the first Jeep to enter the small sport utility segment—the Compass and Patriot compete among compact SUVs. With few true competitors, the Renegade offers many first-in-class innovations starting with “My Sky” open-air roof systems with removable panels that take inspiration from the Wrangler.
“The Renegade is true to the Jeep brand, offering open air freedom and packed with fuel efficiency and versatility,” asserted Jim Morrison, director, Jeep Brand, at the launch.
Another first-in-class is the Renegade’s nine-speed transmission. Matched to a choice of two four-cylinder powertrains—a 1.4-liter and 2.4-liter—it helps improve fuel economy. The Renegade Sport and Latitude (pictured at top) equipped with the six-speed manual, however, offer the best EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 24/31 miles per gallon (mpg). On the test drive, the 1.4-liter averaged 27 mpg.
Like all Jeeps, the Renegade will be at ease on the road as well as off. Available in four trim levels in 2×2 or 4×4 configurations, the trail rated Trailhawk will appeal to true rock crawling fans. At the launch, it moved along a trail at the Hollister Hills State Vehicle Recreation Area (pictured below) without a hitch.
Off-road capability begins with two new 4×4 systems, Jeep Active Drive and the class-exclusive Jeep Active Drive Low (Trailhawk only). Standard on all 4×4 models, Jeep Active Drive full-time 4×4 system automatically disconnects the rear axle and power transfer unit to help improve fuel economy.
Both 4×4 systems include the Jeep Selec-Terrain system with up to five modes (Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud, plus Rock mode on the Trailhawk model) for drivers to choose depending on road conditions.
Familiar design cues, like the seven-slot grille, keep the Jeep DNA in tact while others offer a new twist, e.g. the x on the tail lights was taken from military equipment like gasoline cans.
Described as Tek-Tonic, the new interior design takes inspiration from extreme sports like base-jumping. Colors like Tresspass Black monotone interior or Black and Warm Sand two-tone seats, and a gauge cluster with a mud-splatter design graphic accentuate the theme.
The cluster also includes the Driver Information Display (DID) with temperature, compass, tire-pressure monitoring, trip computer, distance-to-empty, range, vehicles messages and vehicle speed.
For better comfort and convenience, air conditioning, keyless entry with panic alarm, a UConnect AM/FM stereo with a Media Hub—audio jack input for mobile devices and remote USB port, vanity mirrors, a 60/40 split-folding rear bench, and a removable and height-adjustable cargo floor panel are standard.
The Renegade offers 70 available safety features including a blind spot monitor, forward collision warning, Rear Cross Path Detection, although not on the Sport model. A rear backup camera, however, is available on the Sport and standard on the three subsequent trim levels.
Standard safety features include Electronic stability control with Hill-start Assist, all-speed traction control, electronic roll mitigation, and trailer sway damping.
Designed in America and crafted in Italy, pricing for the 2015 Renegade begins at $18,990 with destination fees.