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Renegade impressions

by David Zatz on

jeep renegade launch

Brian Kapral reported from the floor of the New York Auto Show:

The 2015 Jeep Renegade made its North American debut at the 2014 New York  Auto Show today.  Two editions  of the Renegade were unveiled, the Renegade Latitude (red) and the Renegade Trailhawk (gray).  There will be a four packages in all: Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk.   The Trailhawk package is the only “Trail Rated” Jeep Renegade at this time.
Mike Manley, Jeep CEO, opened the event by giving detailed information about the all new vehicle.  Mr. Manley explained that the Renegade will have two AWD systems, one being unique to the Trailhawk.  The Renegade will be the world’s first small SUV with a 9 speed automatic transmission, enabling it to achieve 30 (or more) miles to the gallon.
Renegade in NYC
The Renegade will be powered by the 2.4 liter Tigershark Multi-air 2 engine with 184 HP and 177 ft. lbs of torque.  A 6 speed manual transmission and  1.4 liter Multi-Air Turbo setup (160 hp, 184 kb-ft) is also available.
The Renegade has a “Small-Wide” AWD architecture, with four wheel independent suspension, selective dampening strut system, 8.1” of wheel articulation, and 8.7” of ground clearance.
The “Active Drive” is primarily a front wheel drive vehicle with a disconnecting rear axle and power take off unit which will give it about the same fuel efficiency as a 4×2 model.  The Trailhawk has Active Drive Low, and unique shift strategies  to rely more on the lowest gears; Trailhawk also has a 20:1 crawl ratio, 17” all-terrain tires, Selec-Terrain system with Rock Mode, skid plates, hill descent control, and an increased ride height.
On a personal note, it looks similar to a muscled up Fiat 500L (though they are on different platforms).  There are a lot of details to the vehicle that I  like: a full size spare, Jeep grille logos all over the vehicle (speaker surrounds, centered in the back up light lens,  and “since 1941” above the radio).  The Trailhawk interior is nice, with lots of red outlined areas.  The feel inside the front seats was very comfortable and seemed to have enough space without feeling crammed.
The dash pad was a vinyl covered foam, which I also liked, although I question how well it might hold up to UV degradation over the years.  The plastic door panels seemed cheap compared to other vehicles.  Another design that I did not like was how you opened the fuel door.  In order to open up the door, you have to push in to release the latching mechanism and there does not appear to be any kind of over ride to manually open the door should the latch either get stuck or broken in the closed position.

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