It’s made in Italy. Leaving the factory owned by Fiat, this vehicle heads to the United States. Equipped with a four liter engine, interesting styling and cartoon-ish dimensions this automobile is economical and has an aesthetic that is hard to forget. Could it be a two-seater convertible ready to be flung around the corners or a sensible euro hatch ready for city streets and a load of groceries? It’s actually a Jeep.
The 2015 Jeep Renegade was noted for being one of the top ten most Googled cars of 2015 according to the New York Daily News. New for the 2015 Jeep line-up, the Renegade is sure to turn some heads. The compact crossover is the result of Fiat’s acquisition of the Jeep brand, as well as Chrysler, in 2014. Although managed by the Italian automaker the new Renegade maintains the tell tale signs of traditional Jeep styling. It is clear why the Renegade is so popular online. Motoring Crunch reported Friday that the off-roadability of the vehicle make it a great contender to demand attention from the market. The styling throughout and the work unseen are key factors that make this car so popular with buyers.
The exterior styling is rugged and masculine. Sporting the signature Jeep grille with elongated ovals the Renegade unmistakably fits in with the rest of the line-up. Following the straight lines from front to back of this beefy-looking, yet compact, SUV leads the viewer across the short body to the rear. The back of the vehicle looks boxy and utilitarian, yet still has enough styling to look more fluid than a Nissan Cube or Scion xB. What’s most notable about the rear styling is the white ‘x’ that is in the middle of the tail lights. The lights, which jet out of the body in black molding, protrude to accentuate the unique styling choice. Inside the trends continue.
Although considered a small SUV, the Renegade makes use of it’s space efficiently and with style. Drivers of the Renegade will notice the head room inside immediately. The cabin seems much larger than it actually is because of all of the headroom, but don’t be confused, it is surprisingly large and comfortable. The rear seats are completely functional for full size adults with legs, as opposed to many cars that lack any noticeable leg space for rear passengers. The all black interior of the Sport model tested showed off the ‘Jeep’ logo stylishly embroidered across all the upholstery. The dashboard sports A/C vents that jut out of it, just to the left of the ‘oh-no’ handle bar also seen in the Wrangler for the passenger to hold in case the Renegade runs out of paved road, which won’t be a problem if the AWD option is equipped.
It’s no surprise the Renegade takes styling cues from the Wrangler. The Renegade is the car that has the aesthetic that makes it look like it can climb a mountain but without having to fork up the premium to have off-road features installed on the car. The off-roading look even makes its way onto the tachometer where the red line is actually an orange rock fall. Although the test vehicle looks like it was on the off-road trails because of its looks the suspension felt quite the opposite.
The Renegade eagerly and comfortably absorbed the biggest pot holes the road could throw at it. The ride on the vehicle was cushy enough to feel luxurious but had enough road feel to remind the driver that they aren’t piloting a strangely rugged Cadillac down the road. The Renegade even took turns at speed without as much body lean as expected for an SUV with such a high profile.
Propelling the Renegade around corners is a 160hp 1.4 turbo four cylinder with a six speed manual. Available as well is a 23/32 mpg 2.4 liter four cylinder with, astonishingly, a nine speed automatic. The tester came with the 1.4 turbo four which has enough power to propel the Renegade, but only if the driver has the patience. The turbo lag on the 1.4 is noticeable and annoying which is why the 2.4 is much better.
Weaving through traffic isn’t a problem for the Renegade. The sight lines on the small SUV are good and blind spots are limited even with large rear pillars. The rear window is adequate enough for the driver to see the last person they’ve passed but that’s about it. If the driver is looking for windows it’s important to add some optional extras to the Renegade like the My sky power sunroof.
Also an extra on the Renegade is the Uconnect® system that features a wifi hotspot so passengers can tweet that they’re off-roading in the only trail-rated trim of the Renegade, the Trailhawk. Ground clearance is improved in the Trailhawk from 7.9 to 8.7 inches which helps for those pesky boulders and uneven terrain. Moreover, the Renegade owners that don’t choose the Trailhawk trim sport the 4×4 Active Drive system which aims for maximum power utilization by switching between front and all-wheel drive automatically.
Although made in Melfi, Italy with the Fiat 500X, the Renegade can have both an interesting aesthetic and the off-road systems to back it up. Starting at $18,990 the Renegade attracts attention for its features and realistic price. Even with all the extras, the Renegade can be a trail-going 4×4 with leather seats, wifi hotspot and sunroof all wrapped up in a head-turning small SUV for less than $34,000. It’s Jeep’s attempt at combining smart proportions and fuel economy from the Compass with the off-road capability and looks from the Wrangler with the comfort of the Grand Cherokee. For these reasons, the Renegade demands attention from buyers.