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2015 Jeep Renegade

Going out for a Little Italian
2015 Jeep Renegade

Renegade seems like a good name for the newest Jeep. It’s built in—gasp!—Melfi, Italy on an assembly line which also produces the Fiat 500L. This makes it the first Jeep to be sold in America which wasn’t built in America. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The Renegade is Jeep’s newest, and smallest, offering. And it still, well, seems like a Jeep. The styling is there with the trademark grill slats, squared-off corners, and high stance. It may even make traditional Jeep buyers forget the Compass, which to me still seems to be confused as to whether it’s a Jeep or a small Asian crossover.

I picked up my Solar Yellow Renegade one morning last week at Northtown Jeep, where Joe Erbacher and Ray Brown put me behind the wheel of my test car—one whose color won’t allow it to ever get lost in the mall parking lot. As you would expect, its tall stance afforded a ton of headroom in both the front and back seats. Leg room was also generous, as were both door openings. The interior was black with more black, but it did surprise with a number of red(!) accents on the dash, doors and console, as well as red seat stitching. The seats were comfortable enough and positioned high for a good view out all four sides. Controls are logically placed and easily figured out, and there’s a good amount of storage space behind the folding 60/40 rear seat. Although it doesn’t look like the interior of an expensive Italian sports car, it wasn’t boring.

Again, the looks. I understand the need to give it traditional Jeep styling cues, but it looks to me a bit too, um, cute. No, not everyone wants a Wrangler, but I think the Renegade’s styling will limit its potential buyers to the same type which enjoys the Beetle, Fiat 500, and Kia Soul. But I also predict it will bring in more new-to-Jeep buyers.

All Renegades are powered by a four cylinder engine, either a 1.4L, 160-hp turbo or a 2.4L rated at 180 hp. The 1.4 is connected to either a six-speed manual or a nine-speed (yes, nine!) automatic, while the larger engine is available with the automatic only. You’d never know you were going through nine gears, as the automatic in the test car (a Trailhawk, which comes standard with the 2.4) smoothly demonstrated on our test drive. The 2.4L engine, while not turbocharged, delivered more than enough oomph to move the Renegade along in traffic.

Pricing for the Renegade starts at a mere $17,995 for the front-wheel drive (horrors! in a Jeep?) Sport model (the 4x4 option is another two grand). Moving up the ladder we find the Latitude and the Limited (FWD or 4x4), and the Trailhawk (4x4 only), which starts at $25,995. Our test Trailhawk had an optional hood decal which, with delivery brought the bottom line to $27,140. Forking out the extra dough for the Trailhawk gets you off-roading niceties such as: extra ground clearance and an Active Drive Low gear with a 20:1 crawl ratio; skid plates; redesigned front and rear facias which provide better approach and departure angles; hill-descent control; up to 19 inches of water fording...and that’s just some of the off-road stuff. The Trailhawk also includes: a black roof (which Jeep tells us is available in the Latitude, with all colors... except black. Lol.); full-sized spare; and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, among other things.

If you’re interested in spending less cash, you can go to the website like I recently did and build yourself a Renegade Sport 4x4 for just $20,990. It might not be the same rugged off-roader that the Trailhawk is, but you’ll still end up with a fun-looking 4x4 which should get you around in any kind of WNY weather.

And you can tell all of your friends that you’re driving a little Italian job.

More info at:

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