By on November 6, 2015

2015JeepRenegade_(4_of_9)

2015 Jeep Renegade Latitude 4x4

2.4-liter Tigershark SOHC I-4, MultiAir 2 variable valve and lift timing (180 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm; 175 lbs-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm)

Nine-speed ZF 948TE automatic transmission w/ Jeep Active Drive Low 4x4

21 city/29 highway/24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

24.7 mpg on the 70/30 city/hwy, Colorado Mountain course (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Popular Equipment Group (Power seats, 40/20/40 split folding rear seat, dual zone climate control, 9-speaker audio), 9-speed automatic transmission, 2.4-liter TigerShark MultiAir, Keyless Entry, Remote Start.

Base Price (Latitude):

$24,290*

As Tested Price:

$27,975*

* All prices include $995 destination fee

There are myriad ways to improve SUVs and Jeep won’t do any of them to the Wrangler.

Instead, the Wrangler remains hopelessly impractical, wonderfully unapologetic and, to own, like living with a Libertarian: there are no compromises and everything is wonderful when you play by their rules.

Thankfully for the rest of us, who welcome a little compromise, there are other Jeeps. A crowd of SUVs — and soon to be pickup — will sport the seven-slot grille for mountains of money to keep FCA running well into the black at the moment. When it’s convenient, those cars are compared to the Wrangler to tout their capabilities. When it’s not, well, let’s remember the Compass.

Like Robert Hunter said (kind of): The problem with the 2015 Jeep Renegade is the problem with me.

Exterior
I have a theory that despite the out-there sheet metal (compared to the rest of the Jeep lineup), the paintball-splattered decals and funky neo-nostalgic look, the Renegade isn’t meant to attract the newly licensed, zit-faced driver. Jeep may be going after the old Honda Element buyers, the kind of people who ask for a senior discount at Wendy’s for their cup of chili and small frosty. The Renegade’s clunky curves and deliberate “heritage cues” are just enough to be cute. And I mean cute in the same way grandmothers mean cute.

2015JeepRenegade_(6_of_9)

From the outside, the Jeep Renegade oozes kitsch. Littered with a half dozen Easter Eggs that I couldn’t care less about, there are a few functional features such as the MySky removable roof panels (which require a remarkably heavy key or equivalent Torx screwdriver to remove) and large greenhouse that I appreciate.

Mark Stevenson makes a great point that the Renegade is longer than you’d imagine: it’s longer than the Wrangler and only one foot shorter than a Wrangler Unlimited. Still, the Renegade has short front and rear overhangs, large wheel arches and 118.6 cubic feet of total space inside. That figure is slightly smaller than the Wrangler’s 120 cubes, but the case could easily be made that the Renegade’s packaging is much better — but more on that later.

2015JeepRenegade_(3_of_9)

Access to cargo in the rear is easy and around hip level (30 inches), and the elevated seating position combined with a steeply raked windshield, lower belt line and higher roof offer better outward visibility than others in its segment.

Clearly, the Renegade isn’t exactly aerodynamic. Its boxy shape and upright posture collect plenty of wind on the interstate, with a measurable amount of road noise coming through the cabin.

Exterior appearances mean everything, and in the segment next to the Kia Soul and Nissan Juke, the Renegade doesn’t make the fatal flaw of being boring. If anything, the car’s excessive cuteness is an asset now (even if it’s a liability later); polarizing — but effective.

Jeep-Renegade-2015-12

Interior
There are nicer places to be than inside a Jeep Renegade, we can admit that to each other now. A red Renegade Latitude darkened my doorway for two days before I finally had the courage to turn the key (figuratively, not literally) and fire up the cute ‘ute for a run up into the mountains.

Upon landing my ample rear in the Renegade’s budget thrones, I immediately thought: “This could be worse.” That’s true: Jeep will sell an $18,000 Renegade without air conditioning, hand-crank windows, steel wheels and misery as standard.

Inside the Latitude, the Renegade gets a respectable 5-inch screen, power driver and passenger seats, remote start and cloth buckets. Trimmed respectably, the Latitude is firmly in the middle of the road — and it’s better that way. I’ve been in Trailhawk-spec versions of the Renegade, and can report that it’s like tequila: paying more for a Renegade doesn’t mean you’ll feel better in the morning.

The 40/20/40 split folding rear seats come in handy for rear passengers who want a cupholder, or for a family dog to poke its head through while in the cargo area. I could fold my 6-foot-3-frame into the rear seats sans eagle pose.

The hip point is especially high in the Renegade and outward visibility is better than advertised. Its tall position and upright view make the Renegade a much easily maneuvered car, and more approachable than a Juke.

Or maybe looking out the window is better than scanning the insides. There are clever packaging tricks, such as putting the middle air vents on top of the dash, but overall, the Renegade feels halfway there. The shifter and speaker accents visually break up the sea of black, but look like poor aftermarket parts. The climate controls are FCA bin materials and there are just too many blanks in the center console.

Infotainment
The Renegade’s tech headline may well be its 7-inch multifunction display in the gauge cluster, which is available in Limited and Trailhawk trims. The display is bright and easily readable, a gee-whiz technology touch that starts at $24,795.

If you don’t spring for the Trailhawk or Limited, the Renegade is on par with much of its competition. In all trims, the Renegade sports Jeep’s Uconnect infotainment suite, a relatively unfussy but long-in-the-tooth entertainment unit that varies based on price and trim. In standard Sport models, a basic AM/FM radio with auxiliary ports comes standard. For $2,385 more, buyers upgrade to a 5-inch touchscreen display with Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, and a backup camera, among other upgrades. In Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk versions, the system can be improved further to include navigation and a slightly larger, 6.5-inch display.

The 5-inch screen in the Latitude is passable without ambition. Like most of my college career.

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Powertrain
The Renegade’s first priority is likely efficiency above anything else. The two available 4-cylinder engines, which produce 160 and 180 horsepower, deliver mileage in the high 20s, according to the EPA.

The bigger engine, a 2.4-liter four, dubbed TigerShark, was taken from the Chrysler 200, Jeep Cherokee, and other global cars and married to the same 9-speed automatic transmission in those previously mentioned cars. That gearbox has had a particularly difficult birth — when it first appeared in the Cherokee, it seemed wildly confused — but the transmission’s behavior is slightly better in the Renegade. The 2.4-liter engine’s 180 horsepower and 175 pounds feet of torque rating are only slightly more potent than the smaller motor’s might, but the TigerShark can tow 2,000 pounds and drinks regular fuel. With 4WD, the 2.4-liter returns 21/29/24.

Both engines are surprisingly competent in their respective arenas, although neither engine is particularly overpowering. If you’re expecting to need 4WD at some point in the future, you may want to lean toward the 2.4-liter engine, although there’s no way to avoid the 9-speed in that configuration.

And it’s the gearbox that lets the Renegade down, for now. Up at 11,000 feet, the Renegade huffed and puffed to 75 mph, but only after coaxing. The transmission hunted, stalked and traipsed through its gears before finding the right cog — often at the expense of speed. Going up the mountain, I set the cruise control at 75 mph only to find the car flummoxed around 69 mph. Manually pushing the gearbox into lower gears was the right solution, and I finally managed the speed limit — albeit at a penalty to mpg.

In short, the 2.4-liter is fine. The gearbox is a different story.

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Drive
There will be no holes in a crossover-crazed market for a domestic automaker. As Jeep continues its march toward obscene profitability, they could put a Power Wheels motor on a Radio Flyer with a seven-slot grille and sell plenty. The bar for the Renegade is impossibly high when you have V-8 powered Grand Cherokees and Wranglers with 300 horsepower — only 10 years ago it was 190 horsepower.

The Renegade is adequate, albeit a little tied up by its transmission. It can pull up a mountain pass with some inspiration, and a heavy right foot, but around town it manages the slog just fine. There’s considerable lag (and noise) before it finally hikes up its pants and gets along, but the same could be said about comparable engines.

In reality, the Renegade suffers from having more popular, more potent stable mates that run and climb with more gusto. The Fiat 500X, which the Renegade shares a platform, doesn’t have the same encumbrances namely because it doesn’t have a seven slot grille.

(Interior photo courtesy Jeep)

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97 Comments on “2015 Jeep Renegade Latitude Review – The Sibling Complex...”


  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Having experienced the Renegade, I can personally state that it’s a cheaply built, lacking-of-real-substance, far-more-plastic-than-metal, goofy looking, wart like appliance, which manages to have uncompetitive road manners even by relative standards in its segment.

    It’s also overpriced, looks to be unreliable long-term, and I predict its sales will plunge more than the average vehicle when the next cyclical automotive sales downturn hits.

    FCA needs to be far more Jeep GRAND Cherokee and far less Jeep Cherokee if they want to maintain momentum and their legion of fans. The new Fiat-based Cherokee damages the Jeep brand.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “FCA needs to be far more Jeep GRAND Cherokee and far less Jeep Cherokee if they want to maintain momentum and their legion of fans. The new Fiat-based Cherokee damages the Jeep brand.”

      Correction: “FCA needs to be far more Jeep GRAND Cherokee and far less Jeep RENEGADE AND JEEP CHEROKEE if they want to maintain momentum and their legion of fans. The new Fiat-based Cherokee damages the Jeep brand.

      • 0 avatar
        Altair7

        Correction: The new Fiat-based Cherokee, Renegade, Dart, 200, et al damage the Chrysler brand, even more so than Chrysler itself has managed to damage the Chrysler brand.

        Sales may be decent at the moment – lots of credit-challenged fashion slaves in our population, sadly – but I think history will ultimately demonstrate the absolute folly of the world’s worst automaker controlling America’s worst automaker. I’d trust a Geely to go the distance before any Fiat-based FCA vehicle.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I’ll take a Geely Rural Nanny over a Cherokee. It’s based on a Daihatsu Charade. What could go wrong?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            bball,
            I would seriously look at a Suzuki Jimny over this for off roading any day of the week. They are gutless on the road, but will outclass even a Wrangler off road in some instances.

            And they are cheap here, $14 000USD and that is with 4hi and 4lo.

            http://www.themotorreport.com.au/61532/2015-suzuki-jimny-automatic-review

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I could fit at least three of those in my garage! I doubt we’ll ever see that in the US.

            I’ll just have to wait for the Bronco or TrailBlazer.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Lol, Rural Nanny. Searching that showed me something I like.

            http://blog.unhaggle.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/img_20091210_15382514_1_l.jpg

            An Every Wagon.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Geely also makes the Beauty Leopard, KingKong, and Freedom Cruiser.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Obviously the Freedom Cruiser is for the customer who wants something better than the C-Class.

            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6e/Geely_CKII.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Still better than the Fiat 500L/X.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I am going to disagree as higher fuel mileage will become a necessity for more people over time. While our fuel prices have been remarkably low for the last year, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen prices fall drastically from a high, only to recover one or two years later to an all-new high. When that happens, it will be the smaller cars with better fuel mileage that will be in demand.

      Be that as it may, while I don’t own and haven’t driven a Renegade yet, I have sat in them several times already and find them far more comfortable and less “plasticy” than the 2002 Saturn Vue I used to own and put over 120,000 miles on in the 10 years I owned it. Strange thing about that “cheaply built, lacking-of-real substance, far-more-plastic-than-metal, goofy looking wart like appliance,” etc showed surprising durability and reliability than anyone expected–especially from the 4-cylinder version I owned as it only required one warranty repair and no major out of warranty repairs over its entire 10-year life with me. I sold it still carrying the original factory clutch plates on the 5-speed manual transaxle. I wouldn’t make an assumption of failure on the Renegade based on appearances, if I were you.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        You are aware that DW’s quote is about the Renegade and you’re mocking it by reminiscing about a plucky ol’ Saturn, right?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Fully aware, RH. If I can get a car with the economy of that plucky little Saturn Vue and the soft-road credibility of a Jeep Wrangler–both of which I have owned–then it becomes an almost perfect compromise between them offering the fun of a purpose-built fun car and the utility of a purpose built utility vehicle. I don’t go trail crawling with the Jeep I have nearly as much as I’d expected when I bought the Wrangler, but it has clearly proven its abilities in mud and snow in the soft-road locales that I do travel regularly where the Vue used to struggle under those conditions. I now have two baselines with which to measure the capabilities of the Renegade and to be quite blunt, I will be replacing the Wrangler–most likely with a Renegade–when the Fiat 500 is paid off.

    • 0 avatar
      sooperedd

      Spot on Dead.
      I checked one out and felt the same way about the Renegade; felt cheap, not very “substantial”, small and definitely overpriced. Not to mention FCA put their problematic 9 speed transmission in it, and the MPGs aren’t as good as they should be.
      I ended up buying a 2015 4Runner and glad I did because it is a great vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I looked at a Grand Cherokee SRT when company car shopping. The quality and engineering details like the brake pedal lever were as bad as anything I’ve seen. The other Jeeps might be ugly too, but they’re all low rent.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      The Renegade is okay. It does feel cheap, but the box-like shape makes the interior feel more open than the Cherokee. I think the Renegade will prove to be an unreliable slug in the long run, though.

      Cherokee will stay ruined. The best hope for a new XJ/WJ is under the name Liberty. I’m not sure it will happen though because they don’t have the right frame. The Wrangler frame is tiny and the Wrangler Unlimited frame has the same wheelbase as a Tahoe. An aerodynamic BoF Jeep will need to be about the size of a 4Runner (110 wheelbase), imo.

      • 0 avatar
        eamiller

        The only thing wrong with the Cherokee is the name. It polarizes old people who remember their ox cart Cherokee from the 80s.

        Most people on here bashing the new Cherokee have obviously never even sat in one, let alone spent any real time driving it. The 9 speed is fine once you’ve driven it several thousand miles and it adapts to your driving style.

        In one year and 14000 miles (including towing a fully loaded 12′ trailer halfway across the country) mine has had not a single issue. It’s extremely comfortable, quiet and powerful (with the V6), handles well and has more capability than 99% of buyers will ever use, especially in Trailhawk form. The interior fit, finish, and materials easily surpass everything in the market and some outside the market like BMW’s X3. The one exception may be the Fords (I do love a modern Ford interior).

    • 0 avatar
      SomeGuy

      Interesting. I couldn’t disagree more.

      The Jeep Cherokee is actually what interests me (and many others per the sales figures) in Jeep.

      I want an interesting looking midsize crossover that is FWD and has good solid power up front. From the domestics we have the Equinox/Terrain, which is about as outdated as you can get, the Escape, which drives great but looks terrible inside and out, and this vehicle. The Jeep Cherokee to me has a cool exterior, interior design is good, and is reasonably priced. Especially used.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Renegade has been outselling the Encore for a few months now. Still only 2/3rds of Soul sales, though.

    Wonder how it’d fare were it able to offer Asian build quality. Sure is cute enough (plastic snow plow aside) and I’m a perfect prospect for one but I’ll never buy FCA.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      The Renegade is also much cheaper than the Encore…it competes with the Chevy Trax, which from April (when the Renegade was first available in large quantities) to October has outsold the Renegade. That honestly surprised me though as I have seen little advertising for the Trax, and suspect that the Trax has a higher proportion of fleet sales.

      Anyways I wanted to like the Renegade, but seeing it in person there are too many cutesy “easter eggs” that are just going to look dated in a few years and too much exterior black plastic that is just going to age horribly, especially in the hot FL sun where I live. Especially around the taillights…ugh, could FCA really not spend a little extra money to make that glossy black metal or something?

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        If the Koreans built Renegades and they all had the ground clearance and front clip of the Trailhawk version I’d have one. Gotta think about replacing the ’11 CR-V soon.

        Or not. Maybe I’ll just ride into the sunset with it. Or at least to Shady Acres.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    The Renegade’s ace card is that it has the best ride of any crossover. It’s stiff but not bouncy, and dead stable on the interstate. Makes the Rav4 feel like the playground bouncy horse that it is.

    FCA has achieved nearly-perfect spring and damper rates, something which is a complete mystery for most brands. You still feel the bumps, but you leave them behind immediately, and they don’t push you wide.

    I’m willing to forgive a whole lot of cheap plastics and cheesy design touches to get a car that actually handles.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “I’m willing to forgive a whole lot of cheap plastics and cheesy design touches to get a car that actually…..”

      Rides like a ’70 Bonneville. I see the Renegade ain’t it. Thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        You mean the 70’s Bonneville that made the kids carsick, or the one with the F41 suspension (did Pontiac call it RTS? I forget) that rode OK but still quite wavy?

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          The old man’s 4-dr Bonnie that made potholes and RR tracks disappear but for the muffled thunks.

          Don’t know about kid’s getting sick, never rode in the back and nobody ever rides in the back of my cars now.

    • 0 avatar

      “The Renegade’s ace card is that it has the best ride of any crossover. It’s stiff but not bouncy, and dead stable on the interstate. Makes the Rav4 feel like the playground bouncy horse that it is.”

      I couldn’t disagree more, at least when it comes to the Trailhawk.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Never tried the Trailhawk, but doesn’t it have heavier wheels and higher springs? They may have ruined a good thing in order to appeal to the 5 customers who will offroad a new Renegade.

        I understand why they offer a Trailhawk version: they have to maintain their Jeep cred. Let’s be honest though, the Wrangler is the real off-roader, and it can be had around the same price as the Renegade Trailhawk.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          Haven’t ridden in a Renegade Trailhawk either but I know the Cherokee Trailhawk rides like a pig for those same reasons.

          I really pissed off my brother when he was proudly giving first rides in his Cherokee by commenting at every clunk and thunk on the same roads my CR-V takes smoothly.

          But, yeah, I guess I couldn’t have the Trailhawk lift without paying the suspension and tire dues. Wouldn’t be worth it.

          But they *could* give the lowlier Renegades the same front clip as the Trailhawk. Except, of course, who’d by the Trailhawk? Only your 5 customers.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          .

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          The Wrangler is a much better off-roader, yes, and it can be had around the same price as a Trailhawk, but is it a better day-to-day vehicle?

          • 0 avatar

            From a ride and powertrain quality perspective, the Wrangler is a better day-to-day vehicle than the Renegade Trailhawk.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I wouldn’t bet on that, Mark. I’ve been driving a JKU Wrangler for nearly 8 years as a daily driver and while it is a fair vehicle AS a daily driver, it is by no means a superior one. It’s worst drawback is its ride; very stiff even compared to my Fiat 500 and recently-acquired, like-new ’97 Ranger. Second is the fuel economy–giving me roughly 16.5mpg in mixed driving and usually only about 21.5 highway at 65mph. My old 4-cylinder Saturn Vue at least gave me 21/31 with better ride and handling and quicker acceleration.

            Personally, I think even the Renegade Trailhawk is a better daily driver than a Wrangler.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            “Personally, I think even the Renegade Trailhawk is a better daily driver than a Wrangler.”

            But earlier:

            “I don’t own and haven’t driven a Renegade yet”

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Aye, RideHeight; you are correct. However, I have owned and driven a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and know how that drives. The Trailhawk Renegade certainly couldn’t be a worse daily driver than that.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Awesome time saver!

            I’m going to start evaluating vehicles by holding the brochure to my forehead, too.

            Thanks, Great Karnak!

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Someone who cares about day-to-day, and is willing to pay Wrangler prices, should get a Cherokee.

            (All complaints about “but FIAT!!!” will be shrugged off, because that doesn’t matter for this set of criteria.

            I’ve been in a coworker’s new Cherokee, and it’s quite pleasant on the road; if you’re worried about offroading, you’re looking at the wrong car in the first place.)

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Sigvald: I’ve looked at and been tempted by the Cherokee, but to me it’s a bit more than I need in both size and price. I’ll grant it’s distinctive with the nose and the way the lights are arranged, but at the same time almost too ‘generic’ in overall shape and function. The Trailhawk was the most tempting of the bunch and yet still priced well over a Jeep Wrangler Sahara, which is what I currently own.

            The Renegade comes in similarly-sized to an 02 Saturn Vue with the Tigershark engine the same displacement and about 30 more horses than that Vue. And my experience with Fiat’s 6-speed automatic leads me to believe the reviewer was more looking for bad things to say about it than having any real issues. What issues he had, based on my own experience with driving at 10,000 feet in other vehicles (and clarified below) were far more involved with the altitude than any issues with the transmission itself.

            As such, the Renegade actually comes closer to being a Wrangler substitute than a Cherokee–unless you just want the V6 engine, that is. Since the modern I-4 has managed to meet and exceed legacy V6 horsepower and torque that you could expect from an 80s-vintage model of similar size and weight, I’m perfectly willing to sacrifice the larger engine for a smaller, more economical one.

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      @heavy handle et al: how does the renegade’s ride compare to its sibling, the 500x? I’ve had a 500x as a loaner (it was a 2wd lounge) and found the ride and handling to be a pretty good balance for a vehicle with a CoG too high off the ground. felt relatively European.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    From the side and rear quarter views it looks like someone took a Nissan Rogue or Jute and beat it square.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    I actually think looks-wise, the Renegade is a home run. Sure the plastics may be cheap but this is a sub-compact CUV, have you spent much time in a Buick Encore?

    The worst problems I see are that A) FCA still hasn’t figured out how to program the 9-speed automatic. and B) This thing needs to go on a diet.

    Hopefully quality and reliability wont be too bad.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I actually think looks-wise, the Renegade is a home run. Sure the plastics may be cheap but this is a sub-compact CUV, have you spent much time in a Buick Encore?
      ————————————–

      I know they call it a “sub compact CUV” but I don’t agree. At best, it’s a compact–true compact–SUV or maybe SUW (a rating given my Saturn Vue by State Farm almost 10 years ago. It’s too big to call a sub-compact when I remember the old Dodge Colt wagon of the 80s that was significantly smaller than this. And certainly the Saturn Vue was never called a sub-compact either, despite having less interior space than the Renegade.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    I think Jeep nailed this little thing. Sure it has issues, not the same quality materials as the Grand Cherokee, but it absolutely fits the target audience, young 20 something college kids that are looking for something that looks a little different and hip. It fits the times perfectly and is the anti CRV and RAV4. The fantastic Jeep Renegade music and commercial and PR also helps. It is another pillar correctly planted in the empire that is becoming Jeep

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “… the kind of people who ask for a senior discount at Wendy’s for their cup of chili and small frosty.”

    Ha ha – guilty as charged, with NO apologies. Be patient, you’ll get there, too, and do the same thing!

    “Jeep will sell an $18,000 Renegade without air conditioning, hand-crank windows, steel wheels and misery as standard.”

    What’s wrong with that? However, I would get A/C & auto tranny, but zip-up windows and half-doors. Steelies are perfect for me. Misery? Depends on what you’re using the Wrangler for.

    Does anyone care for snarky, personal opinions, let alone what I just wrote? Probably not…

    As for my opinion of the Renegade without ever driving one or seen one up close – the styling alone turns me off – plus the fact that it is built on the 500 platform. I just have my doubts about the durability of anything Fiat, but time will tell.

    WOULD I consider a Renegade if I were in that market? I honestly don’t know, but to be fair, I’d check them out to see if I could get beyond my gut feelings. A friend has a new Jeep Grand Cherokee that he has some niggling issues with, but it’s a very nice ride.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      As for my opinion of the Renegade without ever driving one or seen one up close – the styling alone turns me off – plus the fact that it is built on the 500 platform. I just have my doubts about the durability of anything Fiat, but time will tell.
      —————-

      * Styling: Subjective viewpoint. Some like it; some don’t. Fine by me.

      * Built on the 500 platform: False. It’s essentially built on the Panda platform, as is the 500L and 500X. The Panda is more popular in Europe than the Fiat 500, though not as recognizable as a Fiat product.

      * Durability: I’ll temporarily give you that one, but only because you qualified it. So far here in the US it doesn’t seem to be showing any long-term problems. Granted, the 500 has only been in the US for five years but I’ve owned one now for nearly a year with no warranty issues. It’s proving itself to be a pretty stout little car so far.

      In my own case, since its my wife and me in the family with a 50# dog as the only other regular passenger, I simply don’t need a bigger vehicle than the Renegade and can’t see owning something bigger, clumsier and less economical.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Half doors?

      On a Renegade?

      Aftermarket, maybe, though I don’t know why anyone would do so…

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I’ll take a Patriot, thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      Me too.

    • 0 avatar
      Speed3

      You can get a Patriot for dirt cheap. Once the ComPatriot comes out in a year or so, and will slot above the Renegade in size and price, I bet FCA will offer some new base packages, incentives, etc to fill the void.

      Or FCA could just keep the Patriot soldiering on as a fleet-only vehicle for the sake of volume (like they are doing with the Dodge Caravan).

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The ComPatriot looks like it’s going to be a stretched Renegade. I don’t know if it’s going to look more like the Renegade or Cherokee though.

      • 0 avatar
        pbxtech

        Speed3 I had one as a company truck. It was quiet, good in snow, nicely equipped and 100% reliable. Once I got used to the CVT I liked it. The only thing I hated was the tiny gas tank. It was not even close to the stated MPG, but I drove like a company car. So maybe I was part of the problem.

  • avatar
    pbr

    Slow, inefficient and I don’t like the looks. Nothing for me here, I’ll be moving along, thanks.

  • avatar
    redliner

    This is the new PT Cruiser.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The PT Cruiser was too weak from the outset. It did become remarkably popular where I live however. Chrysler dumped it because it lost the “truck” rating and it could no longer support their truck line’s poor overall economy.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    And it’s the gearbox that lets the Renegade down, for now. Up at 11,000 feet, the Renegade huffed and puffed to 75 mph, but only after coaxing. The transmission hunted, stalked and traipsed through its gears before finding the right cog — often at the expense of speed. Going up the mountain, I set the cruise control at 75 mph only to find the car flummoxed around 69 mph. Manually pushing the gearbox into lower gears was the right solution, and I finally managed the speed limit — albeit at a penalty to mpg.
    —————————————————

    I think you should have emphasized that 11,000 feet thing a little more; the 2.4 Tigershark is NOT turbocharged which means the engine is already somewhat inhibited even at a mere 5,000 feet and when you get up into that thin air of 11,000 feet that lack of power becomes very evident. The fault you put on the gearbox is at least somewhat specious. I drove I-70 from Denver to Vail many times a year as a shuttle driver for a major rental agency; driving anything from full-sized sedans to econoboxes and yes, even a few SUVs back in the 80s. EVERYONE on my driving team hated the econoboxes because they were so slow–except me. None of them ever wanted to be last to Vail and would invariably start picking the car they would drive from the biggest engine on down with, like drawing straws, the unlucky ones getting the smallest cars. They soon learned to hate me. Why? Because even when I started last in the crew, I would arrive first at Vail, usually by 10 minutes or more. You see, the rest of them relied so much on their automatic transmissions to make the correct gear selection that even if they were able to run close to the speed limit, I would be passing them by simply downshifting one gear. Yes, I sacrificed fuel mileage, but I got the speed to make the climb without losing inertia before the top of any grade. You pointed out yourself that you had to essentially do the same and certainly you’ll lose some fuel economy as a result.

    Meanwhile, that’s exactly why so many of Fiat’s transmissions include that +/- mode on the shifter; to let you choose the gear that best meets the need and eliminate that gear hunting. Interestingly, I’ve discovered that the transmission does learn your habits over time, at least in my 500, so that it begins choosing that gear and holding it the more often it detects similar conditions during the drive. I’ll also note than when Fiat makes a “Sport Mode” available, it downshifts more readily and holds the gear longer to ensure better performance; a great benefit when driving in hilly/mountainous country. Sure, it does sacrifice some fuel mileage, but the ‘feel’ is more positive and doesn’t tend to hunt and leave you wanting.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Also note that if the transmission was “perfect”, in that it downshifted for you to keep speed up … it’d also lose economy.

      It’s kinda like “going uphill kills your fuel economy” or something, especially when you want to do it fast…

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      I had a 500x as a loaner and didn’t have any issues with the transmission. fuel economy was quite acceptable for a box on wheels lifted too high off the ground as was performance. Then again, I am in Florida and so I don’t have to worry about altitude related power losses. The first time I spent an extended time at 9,000 ft elevation I started feeling pretty crummy too.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    My son (an FCA engineer at Warren Truck) recently got one of these in the Latitude trim as part of their employee feedback program. However, the big difference with his vehicle is that it has the 1.4 liter turbo and the manual 6 speed tranny as well as AWD. He’ll bring it to our home during the holidays break and I’m looking forward to seeing it close up and take it out for a spin or two. Frankly if I were buying one of these I’d be leery of the 9 speed slushbox as well.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Please let us know what you think of that drivetrain.

      The 2.4/9A is awful. Every single reviewer of this vehicle mentions how bad the 9-speed is, and it’s mentioned in reviews of other FCA vehicles also. By comparison, a 6-speed Hyundai transmission just does its job smoothly and quietly, and many other makes for that matter.

      I didn’t like the ride, noise, or quality in the Renegade I test-drove, but the transmission was a deal-breaker for me.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        I’ve driven a friend’s Cherokee many times and I can’t really say anything bad about the transmission at all. It was a little “hunty” when he first got it, but the first flash update took care of that, and I drove it to Columbus and back (About 300 miles total), last month, and I had no complaints at all.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Dart had never had the 9 speed. I suggest getting an editor, your section on the transmission is a little sloppy.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Genuine question:

      When writing about a topic such as automobiles, which combines both complicated mechanical items as well as myriad models and options combinations, would it ever be common to employ both an editor, strictly for the written work, as well as a fact checker?

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        I dont know. I dont work in the automobile publication industry. I realize ttac is more of a blog with blog quality at times, but a second set of eyes can sometimes do a great deal to catch awkward writing and mistakes.

      • 0 avatar

        Genuine answer:

        I act as editor and fact checker, though sometimes I slip up. Aaron acts as editor and fact checker for my pieces, though sometimes he is not available to do so.

        I’d love to employ a fact checker, but the economic realities make it a difficult expense to justify.

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry guys. That’s my fault for not catching it.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        I’m not complaining, I was just genuinely curious. An editor might catch language errors but not necessarily key to something like availability of a certain transmission in a certain model. I definitely think its a particular skill set to both edit the language and catch any and all factual errors regarding a complex topic.

        • 0 avatar

          Usually I’m pretty good about checking things. But, this week has been hefty.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Keep up the good work Mark and TTAC crew. I cant speak for the others but I appreciate what you guys do. The odd error doesn’t bother me. Hope its not coming across as piling on.

          • 0 avatar

            @davefromcalgary

            It absolutely isn’t piling on. I’m willing to openly discuss the circumstances around a flub.

            The job of an editor/fact checker is very similar to someone who takes care of the sewage system. You never think about the job they do when they are doing the job. But, as soon as they make a mistake, everyone can see the stinky mess left behind and that mess is almost always fixed in open view of the public.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Is it piling on to ask whether the Renegade is like a libertarian, tequila or an inferior horse?

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            “Is it piling on to ask whether the Renegade is like a libertarian, tequila or an inferior horse?”

            I think “Objectivist” fits the intended comparison better than “libertarian”.

            (They’re not the same – ask anyone in either camp about *that*.)

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            This sounds like the kind of thing Cameron used to do, and seems to have good references for.

            Don’t know if she has moved on too far from TTAC or not, but, hey, FWIW it seems like that might fix some of that.

            But as to “catchy” phrases like living with a Libertarian, sorry, Aaron, if you are personally having a troublesome relationship with a Libertarian, but IMHO we either need to hear a bit more about it, to justify you opinion about Libertarians (from first hand experience), or else this is just a chance to slip in a personal political slant, much like a slam against your least favorite presidential candidate.

            Just doesn’t seem like it belongs in a car review, as the reference seems either too personal, or too slanted towards a specific political viewpoint, to serve as a useful frame of reference for whatever point the author is trying to make about the vehicle.

            I have been told by some that I have a vivid imagination, and perhaps too much brains for my own good, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out why this phrase would be expected to convey a broadly understood idea.

            Perhaps too picky, but I personally think that if you are going to work in some politics, or some personal anecdotes, you either need to expand a bit on them, to show what they mean to you and why, or else you need to just leave that paragraph on the newsroom floor, metaphorically speaking.

            YMMV.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I never read anything positive about the 9 speed. Is this the same transmission in the Acura TLX V6? Apparently it is so bad it can ruin the drivetrain performance of a 290hp Honda V6.

    Considering tiger sharks are large, powerful apex predators that are more likely to intentionally prey on humans than even great whites, naming an unremarkable 180hp 2.4L four cylinder after it is…ambitious.

    Perhaps I’ll now call my VW’s 5-cylinder engine “Blitzkrieg”

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      @30-Mile-Fetch wrote:

      “Considering tiger sharks are large, powerful apex predators that are more likely to intentionally prey on humans than even great whites, naming an unremarkable 180hp 2.4L four cylinder after it is…ambitious.”

      Are you suggesting that FCA jumped the shark?

      And maybe we should call the VW TDI vehicles “Sturm und Drang”, “Blood and Thunder”, since that seems what its legacy is destined to become. A whole lot of bloodshed within VAG, and a whole lot of shaking going on outside of it.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “Are you suggesting that FCA jumped the shark?”
        Very good, very good.

        I like the Sturm und Drang idea. That should be the trim model name for the fixed TDIs, with badges on the trunklids and front quarter panels.

        Donder und Blitzen is a close second, but then all anyone would think of are Santa’s reindeer and that’s rather silly for such a serious idea.

  • avatar
    TW5

    The premise of the article is questionable. The Wrangler has slowly been compromising. The performance rises with each new iteration, and the Wrangler becomes more complicated and trail maintenance becomes more difficult. In the days of pushrods and leaf springs, the car could be repaired anywhere with limited tools.

    Renegade is a Jeep in name only. The new Jeeps are measured against their competitors. Segment-leader doesn’t mean much when the pavement ends.

  • avatar
    frozenman

    I just don’t get why they can’t use the 2.4 throughout the model lineup, and use the trail hawk front clip for all awd models as well. If they need a performance variant at least use a 2.0T and provide a clear difference from the NA 2.4.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Now THAT’s a good comment. I commend you. However, there are some legitimate answers that many here will not like.

      For all that it is overall smaller and lighter than the JKU Wrangler, it still has a relatively boxy shape, so isn’t too great in the aerodynamics as compared to, say, the Cherokee. By cleaning up the front clip with fewer openings and a lower-hanging spoiler, it helps smooth the airflow around the front of the car and helps reduce the amount of air going under the vehicle, thus helping to reduce drag that the Trailhawk nose would offer. You will note that there IS a noticeable difference in rated fuel economy between the two styles even when all the rest is identical.

      They do use a turbo for the base model, though it’s a bit smaller than you suggest. This gives it similar power (20 horses in itself isn’t that much difference unless you’re really trying to sport it out) but economy actually goes DOWN the more you ride the turbo. As people tend to drive around 70-75mph on the freeways, that boxy nose will force the car to run at turbo power nearly full time which would actually achieve a LOWER fuel economy in the long run, though notably improves in-town acceleration and economy at speeds less than 50mph.

      Now, personally I’d love to go with the 1.6T in a Latitude model, but the wife can’t drive a stick and doesn’t show much interest in learning how, despite the fact that two of our three vehicles have manuals and she understands their advantages. On the other hand, her Fiat 500 has the +/- mode for its 6-speed automatic and she’s discovered that it really does work for ensuring the right gear at the right time–that is, when she doesn’t simply tag the “Sport” button instead which has a surprisingly positive effect on shifting, steering feel and even ride. I’ve already looked and the 9-speed does include the +/-, though I didn’t see a Sport-mode switch in the ones I’ve looked at.

  • avatar
    BobWellington

    “like living with a Libertarian: there are no compromises and everything is wonderful when you play by their rules.”

    What an incredibly dumb statement to make.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      What about it is false, though?

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Guys we found the libertarian. Say hello to Mr. Pickles for me.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Don’t kill your neighbors? That is a good rule to live by. What other intrusive rules do these fantasy libertarians have for statists like Cole and nickoo?

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        I wish that when replies to a TTAC article that is ostensibly about a vehicle, ends up going down a political debate path, that there was a way to split the replies into an auto branch and a political branch, with the option to subscribe or unsubscribe to either or both branches.

        Sometimes it is interesting to debate politics among the B&B, but other times it just gets tedious.

        While I think that there are some legitimate issues surrounding Libertarianism, I have a humch that this will quickly end up being a polarized discussion between those who sincerely believe that if you have a business, you didn’t build that business, the government helped you build it, and BTW it will take a village to raise your children, AND in the other corner, the idea that the only legitimate role of government is to do what is necessary and not feasible for individuals, such as military defense (only), and road building and such.

        This is akin to discussing religion. People are going to believe what they believe, and there isn’t even a single document that can be pointed to as being at the center of the divide, at least for the majority of people.

        Etiquette books say that there are three things that should not be discussed at the dinner table, religion, politics and sex. I realize that this is not a dinner table, but doing more than mentioning religion in passing is likely to go nowhere on TTAC, and sex is an ever popular topic to toss into the mix, just for grins if nothing else.

        But politics, other than how it relates to automotive topics, is akin to debating who should have won the Hundred Years War, and why.

        I’ll take my TTAC with a sprinkling of religion and sex, preferably not at the same time and place, but please hold the politics, especially in the main article itself, where it tends to be used as a bully pulpit, but should not be, if only to reduce the probability of a Libertarian/statist debate.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        Haha, yes, the false dichotomy spewed by the Libertardians, either you’re a Statist or a Libertarian.

        As Drzhivago138 stated: What about it is false, though?

        Go say high to Precious for me.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          I can’t tell you what is false about a conception that only exists in your diseased mind. Libertarianism is about the absence of rules. Aaron Cole and yourself think there are many such rules that libertarians want you to live by. You two are beyond delusional. What’s false about you both being dumber than plants?

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            If you’re going to continually resort to name-calling and insults, what does that say about your argument? Please just present your case and leave it at that.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      @BobWellington: Exactly what I thought when I read it. I said a bit more about it in a comment above to one of Mark’s replies, which you might also agree with. Just an FYI.

      I don’t claim that my reply was brilliant, just that it did what I thought was needed, take that statement to task.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “A red Renegade Latitude darkened my doorway for two days before I finally had the courage to turn the key (figuratively, not literally) and fire up the cute ‘ute for a run up into the mountains.”

    That really says it all, doesn’t it? Someone puts a free brand new car in your driveway, and it takes two days before you’re interested/bothered enough to hop in and go.

    If it were something good/interesting/awesome, you’d have been in it as soon as you could go pee and find appropriate shoes – even if only for a short jaunt.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      That made me chuckle a bit as well. I’m imagining Aaron looking out his window for no particular reason, spotting the Renegade parked outside and saying, “Oh, yeah. That thing’s still here. They’re coming for it in a few days and I need to write an article about it, so I guess I’d better go drive the thing.”

      Jeep Renegade: Maybe You’ll Get Around To Driving It. When You Have To.

  • avatar

    Again the 2.4 and 9sp. I feel we won’t get a review of 1.4t until Jack or Bark get their mitts on one. Could be a long wait.

    • 0 avatar
      stevelovescars

      I drove a 1.4T/manual/AWD example at my local dealer and thought it was a pleasant combo. I found the engine to be smooth and powerful (enough) and the stick operated smoothly. At the MSRP of $22,500 (with AC and cruise control but no upgraded stereo or wheels) I thought the interior was appropriate and I liked the steel wheels just fine.

      There aren’t many AWD cars in this class with a manual transmission left on the market. Jeep also has the Wrangler, perhaps a Subaru if you can find a stick shift anywhere, and this. The Fiat 500X doesn’t offer a manual with AWD and it feels much smaller inside based on my brief drive in one, but I did like the styling better and thought the interior was nicer as well.

      At mid 20’s I think a mid-line Renegade compares well to a Subaru CrossTrek. There are few vehicles that make much sense once they are loaded up like press cars tend to be. At those prices one starts looking at different classes of cars/trucks. At least I do.

  • avatar
    Dero

    As a former Wrangler owner (2001), remembering the maneuverability – especially in tight, off-road spaces makes me wonder why I moved to a Ram 3500. The Wrangler’s drawbacks were related to abysmal fuel economy under all conditions and the 3400 rpm din at 70 mph. The Ram’s 6.7L diesel and 4WD gets better mileage than the old Wrangler and has good ground clearance – front and rear.
    Still, I miss the old Wrangler and decided to give the Renegade a try even though it only possessed a naturally aspirated, 2.4L power plant. It had modest performance, decent paint and finish, but there seemed to be no reason for the injection-moulded front spoiler hanging down at parking bumper and curb height. It seemed unreasonable to hobble a vehicle in a product line known for off-road capability and I could see that appendage being rapidly ground away by a high-crowned dirt road. Purpose? None that could be seen by looking under the car.
    Conclusion? It is the entry-level Jeep and with that comes all the potential that the Renegade will become the equivalent of Cadillac’s Cimarron. It inherited very little from the original line beyond the name and grille. There’s not much risk in a prediction that initial interest in the Renegade will be tempered by its realities and fail to maintain the legendary resale value of Wranglers or Grand Cherokees. Because more time is spent off-road than on, there’s another Wrangler in my future for the times a horse trailer or 5th wheel isn’t in tow.

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