“The Renegade is a contemporary and more playful interpretation of Jeep, offering passenger-friendly utility, good on-road performance and fuel economy combined with surprisingly impressive off-road prowess.”

San Jose, California.

A new little Jeep with an Italian accent, called the Renegade, will soon be available in Canadian dealerships.

It’s designed in Detroit and built in Italy but the iconic Jeep Wrangler influences are easy to spot. The Renegade is a contemporary and more playful interpretation of Jeep, offering passenger-friendly utility, good on-road performance and fuel economy combined with surprisingly impressive off-road prowess.

See: 2015 Jeep Renegade (Jeep.com)

The new model presents a fresh and cheerful overall design attitude that’s sure to appeal to younger buyers. An “X” motif that appears in numerous places, including the taillights, was taken from the rear-mounted jerry can on the original Willys army vehicle. A cleverly designed lightweight removable (MySpace) double-sunroof, which stores neatly under the rear cargo area, also adds to the mischievous character of Renegade.

Jeep points to the Nissan Juke, Mini Countryman and Buick Encore as the expected prime competitors of Renegade. There are, however, a couple of aging compact utilities, Patriot and Compass, already in the Jeep line.

So you have to wonder how much longer they’ll be around.

Renegade will have a start price of just $19,995 (Sport edition) and comes in two 4×2 trim levels and four 4×4 trim levels, with prices topping out at $31,995. The base 4×2 Sport edition comes with a turbocharged 1.4-litre (Multiair) engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. The optional ($1,500) powertrain is a 2.4-litre (Multiair Tigershark) engine is paired (no swapping) with a 9-speed automatic. “North “, with 4×2 or 4×4 drivetrains, is expected to be most popular trim level with all-in pricing in the mid twenties.

Jeep is pushing Renegade as a vehicle with genuine off-road warrior capabilities. A Trailhawk 4×4 edition comes with additional ride height, skid plates plus front and rear tow hooks. Unique front/rear fascias improve both approach and departure angle capability and it comes with 17-inch wheels with more aggressive tires. Trailhawk is designed to provide up to 482 mm of water fording capability and it comes with a Jeep Selec-Terrain system that includes a rock mode, Active Drive Low (with 20:1 crawl ratio) and Hill-descent Control.

To prove prowess, Jeep included a three-hour stop at Hollister Hills SVRA, an off-road and dirt-biking Mecca about a hour from San Jose, in the drive route. The serious Jeep side of Renegade quickly became apparent as it tackled an arduous obstacle course and a steep hill climbing trail with ease. A short wheelbase makes it highly manoeuvrable in tricky situations and it’s aided by a fully independent suspension with up to 205 mm (8.1 inches) of wheel articulation. Jeep’s fully automated off-road drive system is also second-to-none.

Almost all of the driving tour was in a Renegade equipped with the 2.4-litre (180-horsepower) engine/automatic combination, which will probably be the most popular pairing. The steering is on the light side and is quicker acting than I’m use to in a Jeep. This high-revving engine is also a more refined and quieter power provider than in Wrangler. Impressively slick in operation, the nine-speed speed automatic is certainly setup for best fuel economy, with four overdrive gears.

The turbocharged 1.4-litre (160-horsepower) base engine offers surprising oomph and seemed to make Renegade a bit quicker off the line. The 6-speed manual is a little vague and has a notchy engagement feel, but I did like the cue ball style shift leaver.

While official fuel economy numbers were not available, Jeep is expecting a combined fuel rating of about 8.1 L/100km, which would be excellent. The 4×4 versions of Renegade also feature a unique disconnecting rear axle feature that should provide fuel economy numbers that are close to the 4×2 versions.

Tek-Tonic is what Jeep designers dubbed the Renegade’s funky yet functional interior. The Wrangler theme is also evident inside and includes the requisite passenger grab handle. It’s a softer, more comfortable Jeep people place with practical features such as the fold-forward front-passenger seat and a removable, reversible and height-adjustable cargo floor panel.

Renegade is also tall folk friendly with oodles of headroom, so they could even wear a hat. A minor tall-roof drawback was noted, however, when I tried to reach for a distant sun visor above the upright windshield.

Jeep claims Renegade has up to 70 standard and available safety and security features. There are seven standard air bags, including a driver’s knee air bag. On top of that you can layer and an impressive list of optional active safety features that include Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection, ParkView and a Rear Backup Camera.

The all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade is in a word… how you say… Stupendo!

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

Photo Gallery continues: Interior for 2015 Jeep Renegade

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