Ride & Drive: 2015 Jeep Renegade
I absolutely love the all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade — primarily because it isn’t your typical “small” sport utility vehicle, or more appropriately, a “small” crossover that offers some versatility.
The Renegade delivers everything you expect from a Jeep, but in a smaller package. It can go off-roading with its larger, “Trail Rated” Wrangler and Grand Cherokee siblings. And I’m not talking about driving up a gravel road, either. It has a true four-wheel drive system, which includes Jeep Selec-Terrain system, which allows the Renegade to traverse a number of different driving conditions — including crossing streams, climbing roads or providing extra traction on a snow-covered road.
It can tow, it’s loaded with comfort features — it even offers a “My Sky” open air roof system that lets the outside in on those long trail rides. The Renegade is available with more than 70 advanced safety and security features — as well as UConnect Access, which among many other things, allows the driver to receive and send text messages through verbal commands without having to take their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel.
Oh, you do expect impressive fuel economy numbers from a small vehicle.
The five-passenger Renegade (which credits a lot of its styling cues to the 1941 Willys MB Jeep) delivers a highway EPA rating of 30 mpg or higher for both of the available engines.
Available in front- or four-wheel drive (including Jeep Active Drive Low with 20:1 crawl ratio) configurations, consumers have the option of four Renegade trim models — Sport, Latitude, Limited or Trailhawk.
Renegade Sport and Latitude models are powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4 engine delivering 160 horsepower and 184 lbs.-ft. torque. Requiring regular unleaded (premium unleaded recommended), it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway for both 4X2 and 4X4 models.
The 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4 delivering 180 horsepower and 175 lbs.-ft. torque is the standard engine on Limited and Trailhawk models (optional on Sport and Latitude). Requiring regular unleaded gasoline, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway for 4X2 models (21 mpg, 29 mpg respectively for 4X4 models). Models equipped with the 2.4 Tigershark also have the capability of towing up to 2,000 pounds.
Transmission options include the nine-speed automatic or six-speed manual.
Without wanting to offend any of the other models in the segment, I need to point out the Renegade isn’t a “wannabe SUV,” or a “toy version” of the real thing. It is a genuine, bona fide, go just about anywhere honest to goodness, full-fledged sport utility vehicle.
It’s not only off-road capable, the Renegade is extremely comfortable for in town, everyday-driving situations. In many ways, it is like driving the best of both worlds.
And I have to give credit to the My Sky roof system team for coming up with the easy-to-use removable skylight panels that convert the Renegade, more or less, into a convertible. It’s a lot easier than getting the top off a Wrangler.
Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.
THE NUTS AND BOLTS
2015 Jeep Renegade
Front-, or four-wheel drive
Sport, Latitude, Limited, Trailhawk
1.4L turbo I4 (160 hp/184 T)
2.4L I4 (180 hp/175 T)
EPA: 24/22 mpg city, 31/31 mpg highway (1.4/2.4 2WD)
FUEL: Regular unleaded
Electronic stability control
LENGTH: 166.6 inches
WHEELBASE: 101.2 in.
WIDTH: 79.6 inches
HEIGHT: 66.5 inches
WEIGHT: 3044-3573 lbs.
FUEL TANK: 12.7 gallons
TIRES: 16-, 17-, or 18-in.
CARGO: 18.5/50.8 cubic feet (behind 2nd/1st row).