Originally published January 26, 2015
Sometimes in life you cannot just play it safe, sometimes you have to take a little gamble and hope that it pays off. For example, you could send the guy that really doesn’t like Jeeps to a Jeep event and hope that he doesn’t embarrass your company at the event and come home with an article that spouts nothing good about an important vehicle for the second largest volume seller of vehicles in Canada, Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA).
That bring us to the now, with the launch of the 2015 Jeep Renegade, a vehicle that fills an empty space in the Jeep lineup in an emerging market of subcompact crossover vehicles that will grow rapidly over the next year with new introductions from Honda and Mazda due imminently. And therein lies the gamble for FCA: With Compass, Patriot and Cherokee already successes competing in this price range, do they really need this smaller vehicle? Can it live up to the Jeep brand name and reputation as a truly capable off-road machine, while still offering the comfort, practicality and style that is expected in this new category of vehicle?
With those goals in mind Jeep engineers and designers took on the task to develop a vehicle that was true to the brand in all respects. Fully designed and engineered in the United States but built in Italy as part of the new FCA production capacity, this new global platform has been designed to be adaptable and capable of accepting 16 different powertrain options.
The 2015 Jeep Renegade is small – think Kia Soul, Nissan Juke or Buick Encore; but unlike its competitors the Renegade boasts true off-road capability (4×4 with locking) and towing ability (up to 907 kg/2000 lb) while still delivering the style and comfort that most buyers in this segment are looking for.
According to Jeep the volume seller will be the North 4×4 edition expected to account for 50 percent of the sales while the North 4×2 will account for another 15 percent. Jeep has made the transmission and engine choices simple for consumers. The Renegade is available with either a 1.4L Multiair four-cylinder turbocharged engine that outputs 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, or a 2.4L Multiair2 four-cylinder engine that outputs 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque.
To make things even simpler, each engine is coupled to only one transmission. If you would like a six-speed manual gearbox then you buy the 1.4L engine; if you would like the class exclusive nine-speed automatic transmission then you pony up the extra $1,495 and upgrade to the 2.4L engine.
Starting at $19,995 for the 4×2 Sport model, the Renegade is attractively priced as well. All but the Trailhawk and Limited models come standard with the 1.4 coupled with the manual transmission and are upgradable to the 2.4 with the automatic. The two aforementioned trims are available only with the 2.4L and automatic combination.