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2015 Jeep Renegade Sport Review

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While it may be larger and heavier than the original World War II-era Willy Jeep, the 2015 Jeep Renegade Sport is absolutely the smallest Jeep sold in decades.

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It's smaller than everything else in the lineup, fully 16 inches shorter than the "compact" Cherokee SUV. Its minimal size reflects its mission: to extend the Jeep brand outside North America to conquer a share of the growing market for very small SUVs around the rest of the world, where even the Jeep Cherokee is too large, let alone a Grand Cherokee.

The Jeep Renegade is targeted as much at South America, Europe, and Asia as the U.S.--though it's likely to do very well in its homeland as well. It offers true Jeep functionality in a package that's actually not much smaller than the compact crossover utilities of 10 or 15 years ago, plus modern features, far better safety ratings, and decent fuel-economy numbers as well.

Reflecting that adaptation to global markets, the Renegade is offered with a remarkable array of 16 different powertrains globally. We'll only get two in North America, however. The base engine is a 160-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter four, putting out 184 lb-ft of torque, paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. For more power, a 180-horsepower 2.4-liter four producing 175 lb-ft of torque is combined with a nine-speed automatic gearbox, clearly the only such nine-speed in any subcompact on the market.

2015 Jeep Renegade Styling :

The 2015 Jeep Renegade has a challenging mission: It has to look like (and perform like) a traditional Jeep, but it also has to attract younger and more urban buyers who will use a small SUV for the same kinds of around-town duties they might previous have undertaken in a five-door compact hatchback. In other words, the design has to split the difference between rugged and cute.

We think the designers have succeeded, producing a tall, slab-sided, and upright little utility with some of the details deliberately oversized to emphasize its heritage. At the front, a traditional seven-slot vertical Jeep grille is flanked by large round headlights. If you look closely, the clear lenses that let you see a little stylized Jeep-front icon in the projectors--one of a dozen Jeep grille images and other little design touches to emphasize its Jeep-ness.

The side profile is upright and square, with that bluff front end, a vertical tailgate, and a windshield with very little rake. One inadvertent retro touch: a fixed triangular window at the front of the front door just the shape of Sixties-style "wing windows" for those who remember them. A black-painted roof is optional on the Latitude mid-level trim, standard on the Limited high-end version, to emphasize the windshield frame and rear panel over the tailgate, which appear almost like roll hoops.


2015 Jeep Renegade Performance :

The 2015 Jeep Renegade comes with only two choices of engine, each paired with a different transmission. The base engine is a 160-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter four, putting out 184 lb-ft of torque, paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. For more power, a 180-horsepower 2.4-liter four producing 175 lb-ft of torque is combined with a nine-speed automatic gearbox, clearly the only such nine-speed in any subcompact on the market. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option with either engine.

The smaller combination is roughly 150 pounds lighter, possibly due to its six-speed manual transmission, and it moves the basic 2WD model around adequately. We didn't test an AWD model with the smaller engine, but moving to a 2.4-liter Renegade with AWD, the driving experience was slightly heavier behind the wheel.

The electric power steering doesn't provide much feedback, but it's tuned well enough that it fades into the background and many drivers won't notice the difference. Though passengers sit high, increasing the sensation of body roll on sharp curves, the Renegade held the road comfortably and proved to be slightly faster on winding roads, when pushed, than you might expect from such a tall and blocky vehicle.

2015 Jeep Renegade Comfort & Quality :

The 2015 Jeep Renegade has a notably wider cabin that other compact SUVs, including the Chevrolet Trax. That not only keeps the shoulders of the front-seat riders suitably apart, but it gives the little Jeep the feel of a larger vehicle.

The front seats are nicely bolstered and comfortable to ride in, and Jeep provides various useful bins, cubbies, and trays between the front seats. Jeep has fitted an electric parking brake to every model of the Renegade, which opens up the space between the seats to accommodate a couple of cupholders and a large lockable bin between the seats.

Rear-seat room is less of a strong suit; this is, after all, a tall subcompact engineered to accommodate all the mechanical gear of all-wheel drive just behind that back seat. Two adults can sit in back if the front passengers are willing to move their seats toward the dash, but while the headroom and shoulder room will be fine, they'll still find their knees right up against the backs of the front seats.

2015 Jeep Renegade Safety :

The 2015 Jeep Renegade has not yet received crash-test ratings from either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Unusually, Jeep executives made no predictions about the Renegade's performance on crash safety tests. But as a new and likely high-selling entry in the fast-growing segment of subcompact SUVs, however, we suspect one or both groups will test the Renegade sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, the littlest Jeep comes standard with seven airbags, a rear-vision camera, and a design in which fully 70 percent of the body structure is comprised of various grades of high-strength steel. Optional electronic safety systems include Forward Collision Warning Plus with automatic braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and correction, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Visibility out the front of the Renegade is good, helped by an upright seating position, a relatively low window line, and the square-cornered styling. And the door mirrors are big and rectangular, which doesn't do much for aerodynamics but gives an excellent view to the rear.


2015 Jeep Renegade Features :

The 2015 Jeep Renegade can be purchased in four trim levels: the base Sport, the mid-level Latitude, and the top-of-the-line Limited. To Jeep's credit, all-wheel drive can be added to all three with either powertrain, as a $2,000 option.

Standard equipment on all models includes halogen headlamps; a removable, height-adjustable cargo floor; a 3.5-inch color display in the instrument cluster; a four-speaker audio system; 12-Volt power outlets in the dash and cargo area; one-touch up/down front driver and passenger windows; and

A few notes on the Sport model, however: It does not come with air conditioning as standard, the 2WD model forgoes the fold-forward front passenger seat back that allow lengthy cargo to load in diagonally, the radio is listed as simply AM/FM. Also, it features standard 16-inch painted steel wheels and the otherwise-standard backup camera is optional.

2016 Jeep Renegade - Review and Road Test

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2015 Jeep Renegade Fuel Economy :

Fuel-economy ratings for the 2015 Jeep Renegade are good, but some other small crossover SUVs perform much better.

The base turbocharged engine, with manual transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive, earns the Renegade ratings of 24 miles per gallon city, 31 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. With the bigger engine and an automatic transmission, the Renegade is rated at 22/31/25 mpg with front-wheel drive, and 21/29/24 mpg with four-wheel drive.

The new 2015 Chevy Trax, for instance, is rated at 27 mpg combined (24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway) with all-wheel drive. That's also the combined rating achieved by the Nissan when fitted with AWD and an automatic transmission. But three Subaru models that comes standard with all-wheel drive do even better: the XV Crosstrek at 29 mpg, and the XV Crosstrek Hybrid and standard Impreza hatchback at 31 mpg.

 

Highs :

  • Really IS a Jeep
  • Quiet on most roads
  • Off-road capability when needed
  • 'Easter egg' design touches
  • Clever removable roof panels

 


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