Last month, the all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade finally rolled out onto the Autopark Chrysler Jeep lot, and we had the chance to take one for a spin. A renegade is defined as someone or something that betrays an organization or a set of principles, and according to the qualms we’ve heard from Jeep Enthusiasts, that’s exactly what the Renegade is. But before you grab your pitchforks and join the angry mob, consider this:
The Jeep Renegade is different – but different can be good.
As we pulled away from the lot in our new 2015 Jeep Renegade, “Rock’n Me” by Steve Miller Band began flowing through the sound system. We accelerated through the first six gears of Jeep’s nine speed transmission with the windows down and the volume up, letting the warm spring air fill the cabin. Maybe it was the music, the weather, or the new car smell, but as we cruised down the Highway 64 towards Lake Jordan, it felt like school was out for summer. Driving the Renegade without camping gear in the back, a canoe on the roof, and a dog in the passenger seat almost felt wrong. It was inspiring really – inspiring enough that we decided to take our own mini-adventure down Old Raleigh Rd. With no destination in mind, we set the cruise control, cranked the tunes, and kept our eyes on the horizon.
Inside, our Renegade was lovingly branded with Jeep Easter eggs. There were Jeep logos on every speaker cover, Jeep logos on the seats, “Since 1941” stamped into dashboard, and topographic maps laid in the rubber lining of each change holder. The cabin was surprisingly roomy for such a small vehicle, and the interior amenities seemed endless. Leather trim interior, a responsive 5-inch touch display, a 3.5-inch digital cluster display, comfy bucket seats, two USB ports, one auxiliary port, a back-up camera, the six-speaker stock sound system – All conveniently placed and impressively built. Being inside the Jeep really felt natural, and its interior beckons you to bring friends along for the ride.
Eventually, our gamble on the road paid off, as we pulled over in a quiet and open area to take stock of Jeep’s newest creation. On the surface, the Renegade is decidedly Jeep like. The trademark seven slot front grilles, circular halogen headlights, and outer trim make it look like a cross between a Jeep Wrangler and a Jeep Patriot. It’s built like them too. 70% of the Renegade’s body structure is comprised of high strength steel and our Jeep was equipped with the 2.4L Tigershark® engine offering a towing capacity of 2000lbs. Here’s the kicker though, all that power and capability at an EPA-rated 31 miles per gallon. For a Jeep, that is definitely straying from the pack.
The dealership did not have a 4×4 model for us to test drive, which was probably for the best. Still, we don’t want to leave out the 4×4 capacity of this beast! The Jeep Renegade offers best-in-class automatic 4×4 for all models. The automatic 4×4 seamlessly engages when the computer feels the Renegade slipping and gets you out of trouble fast. Every 4×4 Renegade is also comes with Jeep’s Selec-Terrain® traction control which allows the driver to fine tune the 4×4 system according to road conditions like sand, snow, and mud. If that all sounds like a walk in the park to you, then check out the Trailhawk™.
The Trailhawk® is like the alpha Renegade. It’s Trail Rated®, meaning it passed a rigorous off road testing standard and can hang with the best of Jeep’s 4×4 creations. It has a 20:1 crawl ratio, 17-inch off road tires, a 0.8-inch factory lift, an extra Selec-Terrain® rock setting, roof rails, red tow hooks, and skid plates. This thing is sweet. Check out the [Tales of the Trailhawk® videos] if you’d like to see more about the Renegade’s impressive off road performance.
Back to our Jeep – The more time we spent with the Renegade, the more the name started to grow on us. It really is unconventional. It’s smaller, quieter, and more efficient; it doesn’t have a huge towing capacity, and it will never out climb a Wrangler. But no other jeep will get more than 30 miles per gallon, while offering you the 4×4 capability, hauling potential, and versatility that the Renegade does. It’s in its own class – and for that, you have to give it some credit. Does the Renegade betray some of Jeep’s hallmark principles? Yes, but just enough to make it great.
The Renegade combines the hardiness and freedom we love about Jeep, with what we expect in our everyday vehicle. It’s smaller, quieter, and more fuel efficient than any Jeep currently in production, but like other Jeeps, it drives great; The engine is strong, the transmission is smooth, the handling is secure, and the brakes will keep you safe. It can be your rock-conquering-4-wheel-drive-beast, or your everyday-front-wheel-drive-grocery-hauler. So, strap the canoe to the roof rack, fold the seats down for your fishing poles, run to the store for supplies, and get out there. That’s what the Renegade inspires: Exploration, Excitement, Freedom.
A big thanks to the staff of Autopark Chrysler Jeep for making this test drive possible, and special thanks to Michael Englert for giving us the low-down on our Renegade’s equipment. If you’re interested in the Jeep Renegade, we encourage you to visit Autopark Chrysler Jeep and experience a test drive for yourself.