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Renegade and Rubicon

by David Zatz on

Brian Kapral reported from the New York Auto Show:

After the presentation of the Jeep Renegade, I was able to talk to Philip M. Jansen, the Vehicle Line Executive, A/B Segment, Minivan, and current C/D Segment.

I asked him if the Renegade had crossed the famed Rubicon Trail, and he said that it had not, but had been on one of Jeep’s testing grounds. He elaborated that for the “Trail Rating” of the Jeeps, they assign a ranking of 1-10 with 10 being the best. The rating equate to what kind of trail it should be able to handle.

Renegade in NYC

Mr. Jansen gave the Renegade a rating of a 4 out of 10, which would mean they would not recommend it for a trail such as the Rubicon. Part of the reason, according to Mr. Jansen, is the Renegade’s focus on power over torque; the latter would be needed to climb boulders and such for the likes of the Rubicon trail. He then said that the Wrangler is rated at a 8 – 9 out of 10, and would be able to go over the Rubicon trail with no problems.

When I had asked him if the Renegade had any styling or influence from the Fiat 500L, he said that were some shared modules such as the seating, steering column, and other small things.  The differences were the wheel openings (which have the typical Jeep trapezoid opening), a unique front suspension, different transmission, and some other things.  Mr. Jansen also said that while both the 500L and the Renegade both use the small wide design, the design is different due to 500L using the front wheel drive version while the Renegade uses the AWD version.

Chrysler has several off-road trails for testing purposes, including one which faithfully replicates difficult portions of the Rubicon trail, as they stood in the 1990s. This both allows Chrysler to test off-road vehicles in secret, and provides a stable benchmark, since the actual Rubicon trail is in a constant state of change.

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