Jeep isn’t just an American brand. It’s a global icon. And suitably, near the home of the United Nations, the Jeep Renegade is making its world debut.
The 2015 Jeep Renegade, which will reach dealerships in the U.S. the third quarter of this year—and Europe this summer—is being shown here at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show. It follows the new Cherokee in presenting a Jeep that will play as well in Turin as it will in the brand’s Toledo (Ohio) home.
The Renegade, which will be built in Melfi, Italy, for the world market, is cute yet ruggedly handsome; and carlike but tough enough to live up to the brand’s rugged reputation.
Interior design chief Klaus Busse notes that the Renegade was designed by young people, for young people who do extreme sports or backpacking. The color palette will mix those influences on the outside, with what this set, along with most shoppers for an affordable vehicle such as this want: a more refined, subtle look inside.
Jeep is truly going global. And that means American-size vehicle and American-size thirst won’t quite work. At less than 167 inches long, the 2015 Jeep Renegade fits just below the Compass and/or Patriot in the U.S. market.
Developed with Fiat, but not a 'badge job'
The Renegade’s underpinnings aren’t completely new, but it’s far from a badge job. It’s built on a new small-wide architecture that’s an evolution of what underpins the Fiat 500L—and will be shared, mostly, by the upcoming Fiat 500X. The Renegade and 500L might still be related, but in order to engineer in the packaging, the design, and the toughness and 4WD that Jeep wanted, the Renegade got different front frame rails, a revised rear suspension, a new fuel tank, and all sorts of other body improvements. There’s a completely different driving position here than in the 500L as well—with the steering wheel moved to accommodate it.
The lineup of powertrains in the Renegade will truly be global as well. While international versions will get a wider range of gasoline engines, most with stop-start, we’ll get a base 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo, making 160 hp and 184 lb-ft. It will be offered with a base six-speed manual gearbox and a choice between front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. The step-up engine for America will be a 2.4-liter Tigershark in-line four, making 184 hp and 177 pound-feet of torque.
European versions of the Renegade will also offer a 1.6-liter ‘E.torQ’ engine that’s fitted with stop-start and a five-speed manual tuned for fuel-efficiency. Europe, as well will be able to specify two different MultiJet II turbo-diesel engines—a 1.6-liter and a 2.0-liter—with the latter engine making up to 258 pound-feet of torque. Even the smaller one makes 118 hp and 236 pound-feet and is “a leader among engines with displacements of 1.8 liters or less.”
Renegade Trailhawk can crawl
Mated to the 2.4-liter in North America will be the same ZF nine-speed automatic transmission that’s being offered in the new Jeep Cherokee, as well as the upcoming Chrysler 200. On Trailhawk models, the transmission accommodates an excellent 20:1 crawl ratio through the transmission’s 4.71:1 first gear and 4.334:1 final drive ratio.
There are two 4x4 systems, and with either, the 2015 Renegade has a rear-axle power transfer unit (PTU) setup that allows the rear wheels to be completely disconnected then there’s no need for the additional traction or stability. However, the system can send up to 100 percent of torque to any wheel, through a wet clutch, and can respond quickly and with subtlety, to improve on-the-road dynamics.
The new Renegade, at first look, has excellent packaging, gorgeous design, and an interior that those also considering a Nissan Juke, Subaru XV Crosstrek, or even Kia Soul will see as a class above.
Pricing, trim levels, and options haven’t yet been detailed, other than for the top Trailhawk. Get more at our preview page for the Renegade, and check back for live photos and more from the Geneva Auto Show.
(c) 2014, High Gear Media.