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Jeep Renegade: True Compact Off-Roader

By Steve Wheeler, February 28th, 2015

Small is big in 2015, and the new Jeep Renegade joins the parade of compact sport utility vehicles to hit the market this year. The difference between the Renegade and most of the others, though, is the Renegade can keep going after the pavement ends.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade builds on the Wrangler's powerful stance, rugged body forms and aggressive proportions that include best-in-class approach and departure angles purposely designed to deliver best-in-class capability
Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade builds on the Wrangler's powerful stance, rugged body forms and aggressive proportions that include best-in-class approach and departure angles purposely designed to deliver best-in-class capability

The new Renegade doesn't replace anything in the Jeep lineup, but fills a new space for Jeep. It's a mix of the Cherokee and Wrangler, with a decided tilt toward Wrangler. It's also the smallest SUV Jeep has ever built.

While the Renegade expands the Jeep lineup, Jeep officials say they wanted it to remain a real Jeep with serious off-road capability. "People expect a certain level of capability from a Jeep, and we love delivering it," says Jim Morrison, director of Jeep brand marketing.

The Renegade is available in Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk trim levels. Under the hood are two engine choices: a 1.4-liter MultiAir turbocharged four-cylinder and a 2.4-liter Tigershark turbocharged four-cylinder.

The smaller 1.4L engine develops 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque and is hooked to a six-speed manual transmission. The 2.4-liter engine kicks out 180 horses and 175 lb.-ft. of torque. Fuel economy is projected to come in around 30 miles per gallon on the highway. The interesting thing about the 2.4-liter engine choice is that it is mated to the first nine-speed automatic transmission offered in a small SUV.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade builds on the Wrangler's powerful stance, rugged body forms and aggressive proportions that include best-in-class approach and departure angles purposely designed to deliver best-in-class capability

Jeep launched the Renegade in the hills around San Jose, Calif., and allowed journalists to drive on some of the steepest terrain available. The Renegade slogged through muddy trails and deep ruts with no problem. The Wrang...uh, Renegade also had no trouble negotiating a course with breadbox-sized boulders.

The top-end Trailhawk model, which adds hill-descent control to the Renegade's off-road toolbox, was unleashed during its launch on a serious dirt hill with loose gravel. It was the kind of hill where you see only blue sky on the way up, and you lean heavily on the steering wheel on the way down. With hill-descent control, the Renegade hardly disturbed a pebble as it crawled down the hill. The Trailhawk can also ford water up to 19 inches deep, and the Renegade has a towing capacity of up to 2,000 pounds.

The Renegade has two full-time 4x4 systems: Jeep Active Drive with a fully automatic one-speed power transfer unit, and Jeep Active Drive Low with a 20:1 crawl ratio. A Selec-Terrain system allows the driver to select from five modes: Auto for basic everyday driving, Snow to minimize oversteer and improve traction, Sand for more traction and less wheel slip, Mud to maximize traction, and Rock (Trailhawk only) which implements the 20:1 crawl ratio.

The Renegade displays a wide, rugged stance and offers two "My Sky" open-air systems with removable roof panels. It's all part of the Renegade's theme of open-air fun combined with off-road capability.

To add to the fun and just in time for Easter, Jeep designers incorporated dozens of "Easter eggs" into all parts of the Renegade. Easter eggs are little hidden graphics designed to tell the Jeep story. The biggest and most obvious is a big "X" on the taillamps. The "X" is from old military fuel cans, and it is repeated throughout the Renegade. Not so obvious are the other Easter eggs hidden throughout the vehicle: a Yeti, several Jeep silhouettes, Jeep Sarge grilles, topographical maps, and a Willys Jeep design.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade builds on the Wrangler's powerful stance, rugged body forms and aggressive proportions that include best-in-class approach and departure angles purposely designed to deliver best-in-class capability

Pricing (without freight of $995) for the 2015 Renegade starts at $17,995 for the 4x2 Sport, $21,295 for the 4x2 Latitude, $24,795 for the 4x2 Limited and $25,995 for the 4x4 Trailhawk. The three lower trims are available in 4x4 for an additional $2,000.

The 2015 Renegade has not been safety tested, but has available features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross path detection, back-up cameras, forward collision warning systems, and lane departure warning systems. The Renegade has seven standard airbags, including full-length side curtains.

Specifications

Vehicle type 5-passenger 4x4 compact SUV
Base price $25,995 (as tested: $26,990)
Engine type 16-valve 4-cyl. w/MPFI
Displacement 2.4-liter
Horsepower (net) 180 at 6400 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 175 at 3900 rpm
Transmission 9-speed automatic
Overall length 166.6 in.
Curb weight 3,573 lbs.
Fuel capacity 12.7 gal.
Epa mileage rating 22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway (2WD)
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