How Jeep Renegade Will Earn Trail Rating, Please the Masses
A good deal has been made recently about the Jeep Renegade. Although, most of the reactions have been mixed. It has been called “cute,” and at times even an “abomination” by Jeep faithful. As with the Jeep Cherokee, we reserve judgement until we actually drive it. Most are making assumptions based on images and press releases, but that’s what the internet is all about! We decided that we needed to learn a bit more. To get a more in-depth look at the Renegade before folks see it live next month at the NY Auto Show, we spoke to Jeep’s director of product marketing, Jim Morrison. Jim has helped us in the past, getting a better idea of the Cherokee, so we thought it wise to turn to him to learn about the new Jeep that rides on Fiat DNA.
We had seen the spy shots, but the Renegade still came as a surprise to us, but if you ask Morrison, the absence in the lineup was obvious. “The main thing was when we looked at our portfolio,” explained Jim, “there was space for a smaller Jeep in the portfolio both here in us and around the globe.”
PHOTOS: See More images of the 2015 Jeep Renegade
From the start Jim assured us that past experience would bear fruits in this vehicle. “We took the formula of the Cherokee and applied it this vehicle,” explained Jim. “We’ve thrown a lot of technology at it with the 9-speed transmission, and the Cherokee 4WD system.”
The Cherokee proved that a vehicle could have road-going characteristics, and still be capable on the trail. But what would be the Renegade’s defining traits? The crossover DNA is obvious, but as we have seen in the past, the crossover layout may not be ideal for a brand like Jeep. Still, the American off-road brand that it can bake all of the things that make Jeeps great into a car-based platform.
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“We looked at what that customer is looking for in the small SUV market and applied everything core to Jeep,” explained Morrison “[Renegade] pulls a lot of cues from the Jeep Wrangler. We thought it would be great for the segment, to deliver an efficient package pulling from the icon of our brand which is Wrangler profile. The stand up, seven-slot grille, and round headlamps.”
That’s great– so it looks the part. There have been plenty of vehicles with looks that far exceeded said vehicle’s appearance. Even within Jeep, there have been miscues of models that look like Jeeps, but by all rights, were not Jeeps (cough-cough, Compass and Patriot, cough-cough). So how does the Renegade back up that Jeep styling?
PHOTOS: See More images of the 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk
Apparently, it does so by the same logic employed by the Cherokee. There are versions for the road and light soft-roading, and then there is the Trailhawk. The Renegade Trailhawk gets a small lift, more aggressive tires, and some respectable driveline gear. “So the Renegade gets Active Drive with a crawl ratio,” explained Jim, “It has settings for Snow, Sand and Mud, but takes that a step further with a 20:1 rock crawl ratio.”
Morrison also points out a very key component to the Renegade Trailhawk– it’s all in the angles. The Trailhawk has at 30.5 degree approach angle, 26 degree breakover angle, and a 34 degree departure angle. For the sake of comparison, the Wrangler has a 42.2 inch approach angle, 25.8 breakover, and 31.2 departure. In that context, the Renegade’s angles are actually quite impressive.
PHOTOS: See Images of the 1991 Jeep Renegade
For a vehicle to have true off-road capability, it needs three things– ground clearance, a capable drivetrain (aka gearing), and the right approach/departure angles. We still have not yet made up our minds on the looks of the new Renegade, but the situation is looking better than the opinions from day one. As always, we’ll reserve our opinion until we drive it on the trail.