The Jeep brand continues to set sales records and shows no signs of losing ground. New or updated models have propelled the brand as have new markets and consumers who are embracing America’s iconic 4×4 brand.
2015 Jeep Renegade
Jeep is not resting on its laurels. The Chrysler Group, indeed parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, N.V., is pinning much of its growth on Jeep. To that end a new model, the subcompact Renegade, goes on sale early this fall. It is the first Jeep model that benefits from the company’s cross-Atlantic alliance.
Indeed, the Jeep Renegade will share the same platform and major components with the Fiat 500X, itself similar to the 500L. Both models will be built at Fiat’s Melfi plant in Italy, representing the first Jeep model ever built abroad.
The 2015 Jeep Renegade will be sold as 4×2 or 4×4 models and will offer a normally-aspirated 2.4 four-cylinder engine or an available 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The larger engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission; the smaller engine with a six-speed manual transmission.
Room for Five
With room for five, the Renegade is fairly light, its curb weight ranging from 3,095 to 3,490 pounds. When fuel economy numbers are announced later this month, Jeep expects highway fuel mileage to easily top 30 mpg. That would put Jeep close to the top of the fuel mileage range among small SUVs. All models take regular grade gasoline.
Going small does not mean that the Renegade departs from Jeep’s core design of offering rugged, muscular and upright bodies that define the brand. The seven-slot vertical grille, a Jeep signature, is flanked by round head lamps. The lower part of the fascia advances a burly design and is matched with daytime running lights, available fog lamps and tow hooks.
Short overhangs, distinctive wheel arches and a raised belt line give this model a formidable look on a small footprint. A new “X” design crisscrosses the tail lamps what Jeep says is a “theme inspired by military equipment” to convey strength. Rear tow hooks are available too.
Modern, Updated Interior
Inside, the Renegade provides a unique steering wheel, marked by a beefy rim section. Secondary driver controls, including voice, vehicle and audio controls are located near the grip points. A heated steering wheel option is available.
Large analog speedometer and tachometer displays flank a digital driver information center. The 3.5-inch display provides vehicle information and can be upgraded to a 7-inch display. Across the lower section of the instrument panel USB, auxiliary input and 12-volt connectivity points align with the climate control switches and the glove box.
The center console, featuring a wrapped armrest, provides ample storage. Each door offers additional storage room, useful for holding beverages or gadgets. The ergonomically-shaped seats are draped in cloth or covered in leather. Standard 60-40 split second row seats can also be upgraded to 40-20-40 split seats with an available cargo area pass through.
The cargo area provides 18.5 cubic feet of standard storage area, expandable to 50.8 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down. The front passenger seat also folds forward, providing enough room to accommodate a five-foot ladder.
Trailed Rated Renegade Trailhawk
The Renegade, like other Jeep models, will also offer “trail rated” packages, representing the brand’s internal rating scheme. Applicable 4×4 models have been tested on some of world’s toughest trails and must successfully perform well in the following five off-road conditions: articulation, ground clearance, maneuverability, traction and water fording.
The Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is the best model for off-road adventuring as it is equipped with an active drive low 4×4 system with a 20:1 crawl ratio, a terrain selection system with five modes to include: auto, snow, sand, mud and rock modes, 17-inch off-road wheels, a 0.8-inch off-road lift, hill descent control and skid plates.
Aggressive Jeep Growth
With the Renegade filling the bottom end of the Jeep portfolio, it joins the Patriot, Compass, Wrangler, Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. The Patriot and Compass will be discontinued midway in 2016, replaced by a single new model according to Chrysler’s five-year plan as reported by Automotive News.
Chrysler expects Jeep sales to top 1 million units this year, a first, and continue to expand aggressively as the brand is introduced to new markets, particularly Asia. For now, Fiat Chrysler will be watching the Renegade’s progress closely, expecting sales to strengthen as production ramps up.
See Also — At a Glance: 2015 Jeep Renegade
Photos courtesy of the Chrysler Group.