Today at the Geneva Auto Show, Chrysler unveiled their all new 2015 Renegade compact SUV, a product based on a Fiat derived platform. This new first-entry into the compact SUV segment is a significant risk for Jeep as it is going further global.
For the new Renegade, Jeep really had a challenge after the initial slap in the face it received last year when the Cherokee stirred a good deal of controversy among the Jeep faithful. Designers knew it would need to look rugged but back that up with real-world capability.
The brand's first entry into the compact SUV scene, the 2015 Renegade will offer class-exclusive off-road capability with two 4x4 systems which can put up to 100% of the engine's torque to any one wheel.
These systems will include Jeep Active Drive, a full-time 4x4 system and more robust Jeep Active Drive Low which has a 20:1 crawl ratio. A disconnecting rear axle and power take-off unit (PTU) provides Renegade 4x4 models with better fuel economy when all-wheel drive isn't necessary.
Both 4x4 systems will have Jeep's Selec-Terrain system with up to five modes including Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud modes. The range topping Trailhawk will get a rock mode which provides the most aggressive traction control and that 20:1 crawl ratio.
While the Renegade will have up to 16 powertrain combinations globally, we in North America will get two engines including the 1.4 “MultiAir” turbocharged four with 160 horsepower and the 2.4 liter 184 horsepower “Tigershark” engines we know from the Dodge Dart.
Transmissions will include a six-speed manual for the 1.4 liter engine as well as the new nine-speed automatic which was introduced last year in the new Jeep Cherokee to be paired with the larger 2.4 liter mill.
Based on Chrysler's all-new “small-wide 4x4 architecture,” the Renegade has a fully independent suspension with up to 8.1” of wheel articulation and 8.7” of ground clearance. The suspension features Koni frequency selective damping front and rear struts which should offer up premium handling characteristics both on and off road.
Jeep enthusiasts will likely appreciate the Trailhawk trim grade which will offer up the most off-road capability of any compact crossover SUV on the market. It will come standard with the aforementioned 20:1 crawl ratio and rock mode but there is more.
With larger 17” all-terrain tires, a near 1” increased ride height and unique fascias it boasts 30.5 degree approach, 25.7 degree breakover and 34.3 degree departure angles. It also gets skid plates, fashionable red tow hooks and can drive through water 19” deep.
Designed in America and built in Italy, the new Jeep Renegade will be the brands first entry into a number of new global markets where it has never been before as well as North America. Thus it has to be a Jeep at first sight.
From the front the Renegade's Jeep heritage shines through well with a traditional headlamp and grille treatment, unlike the Cherokee. Side and rear profiles are newer in flavor however, and share some styling DNA with Chrysler's latest offerings.
The cabin offers up a rugged look with high-quality material and a level of design detail we haven't been used to from the Jeep brand. With available body color accents and a host of new technology options it's a change of pace.
The Renegade will offer the open-air experience with “My Sky”. With removable or power tilt and slide options, the honeycomb fiberglass polyurethane roof panels are lightweight and stow neatly in the rear cargo area.
The new Jeep Renegade is sure to gain many fans as all as detractors given its breakthrough into new paths for the Jeep brand. It offers a credible entry into the truly compact SUV segment which has more off-road capability than anything in its class.
The rank-in-rile Jeep enthusiasts and owner base in the States will have to be convinced however as to whether the new 2015 Renegade is worthy. While they aren't the entire market for this new vehicle, their acceptance and buy-in sets the tone for many who research their buys on the internet around the globe.