The all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade comes to American shores at an affordable starting price of $17,995 (before destination charges) for the two-wheel-drive Sport model. Yes, it comes to the United States from Italy, and it’s ready to fight in the ever expanding sub-compact crossover segment.
It offers a broad range of configurations, models, and options. The four distinct models are: Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk. There is also a choice of two engines, transmissions, and 4×4 systems. It all starts out with the Renegade Sport with the 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder. It uses up to 22 psi of boost. It’s available with the 6-speed manual transmission and a choice of 2WD or Jeep Active Drive 4×4 system. The larger naturally aspirated 2.4L is optional. It makes 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque and can only be had with the 9-speed automatic.
We drove the 1.4L Sport 4×4 with the 6-speed manual transmission and came away with smiles. It is a fun and engaging tall little hatchback (ahem… crossover). How many other affordable four wheel drive vehicles offer a manual transmission option in the United States? They are far and few between. The 6-speed shifter throws are long, but it’s easy to find every gear. There is no hunting or missing gear shifts. The little engine revs quickly and has just a hint of turbo lag.
We were able to get 31.8 MPG after 58 miles on the highway. It’s easy to believe that the Renegade will get “over 30 MPG” on the highway, which is the only rating Jeep has offered so far.
The Renegade Sport 4×4 is not afraid of a twisty road. The electrically boosted steering weight is good, although it does not communicate as much as you may want. Still, it feels fun and lets you feel confident in corners.
The Renegade Latitude is the next model that can be configured similar to the Sport. The Limited model has a unique painted front grille, rear trim, and adds leather-trimmed seats and other premium features. The Renegade Trailhawk is the top-of-the-line model with additional ground clearance (8.7 inches in total), different bumpers for increased approach and departure angles (30.5 deg approach / 34.3 deg departure), and Jeep Active Drive Low 4×4 system. The Trailhawk comes only with the 2.4L engine and the 9-speed automatic.
The 2.4L Trailhawk with the 9-speed is a different animal from the turbocharged base model. First, the beefy Trailhawk off-roader is around 400 pounds heavier than the Sport 4×4. Acceleration does not feel as quick as the 1.4L Sport. The 9-speed automatic does a good job with quick shifts on the way up. It’s also smooth with down-shifting when slowing down. The quick first drive did not reveal any obvious problems or strange behavior.
The Trailhawk sits a little higher than all other Renegade models, and you are able to feel it with a little more lean in fast corners. It’s not alarming. The Trailhawk needs to settle through the corner and it can serve as a fine on-road machine as well.
Check out this fun TFLcar off-road video review of the Renegade Trailhawk! There is more on the Renegade coming soon.