As you all know, 'Jeepers' (devoted people to the Jeep brand) are somehow the wildest people I have ever seen during my entire career. They are able to tweak their Wranglers to a point where no Wrangler will look like any other. When I heard that Jeep is planning to build a smaller SUV, which is essentially a CUV (Compact Utility Vehicle), I was super excited. But, when I learned it is going to be built in Europe, and more specifically in Italy, and is going to be based on the same platform as the Fiat 500X, I wondered if Jeep will be able to keep its brand heritage in such a manner?
I acquired the 2016 Jeep Renegade from Gargour Automotive, official distributor of Jeep in Lebanon, for a weekend test drive to find out what it is like to drive a Jeep made in Italy. My demo car was sure looking nice with a white exterior and red accents on the exterior and interior. When I jumped into the Renegade I immediately thought, boy, this Jeep is going to give other auto manufacturers a hard time! Let's be straight: there's no vehicle in the Jeep lineup that actually has the Wrangler capabilities, but with smaller dimensions. It looks like a more fitting and agile Jeep that will surely appeal to a younger audience.
I know most of you read the sentence twice that the Jeep Renegade is based on the Fiat 500X platform. Let me clarify it for you; the Jeep Renegade did a surprisingly marvelous job during that weekend. I was able to drive it comfortably on highways and asphalt roads (which is not exactly the case with the Wrangler, as you might feel some bumpy waves in your seating), and it did extremely well off-road. It is the right size SUV or the right CUV for our Lebanese roads. So, Jeep engineers were keen to point out that they're the ones who did all the heavy lifting on the Renegade in the U.S. with Jeep's off-road abilities in mind. They spent as much time developing the Renegade on the trails in Moab, Utah (where we celebrated the 75th anniversary of Jeep two months ago), as they did on suburban roads outside the Chelsea Proving Grounds. Keep in mind that Renegade's unibody platform is made up of more high-strength steel than any other Jeep in the lineup - that's why my drive experience was smooth and made the Renegade a better drive out on our irregular roads!
The Renegade is powered by Jeep Cherokee's 2.4 liter Tigershark inline four-cylinder, delivering 180 horsepower and 238 Nm of twist, mated to Chrysler's new nine-speed automatic (the only one in this CUV segment). Two all-wheel drive systems are available on the Renegade.
The Renegade has a shared platform with Fiat and comes from Italy, but it still manages to stay true to Jeep's roots while pleasing a wider audience. With the Renegade, Jeep has managed to make a world vehicle equally appealing to younger audience. It has been welcomed with open arms - especially when it landed on Lebanese soil. Check out your nearest dealership in Lebanon, as the price tag is really attractive starting at $37,000 USD on the road!
Pros: Imposing front fascia, nimble handling, smooth drive on highways, easy-to-use technology features, best-in-class off-road capability
Cons: Bizarre rear taillights, limited cargo capacity
Rivals: Chevrolet Trax, Subaru XV, Mini Countryman, Nissan Juke, Mitsubishi Outlander
One word: Wrangling
2.4 L inline-4, 180 hp @ 6400 rpm, 238 Nm @ 3900 rpm
4WD, 9-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
top speed: 9.3 sec, 0-100 km/h: 180 km/h, fuel consumption: 11.2 L/100 km
Weight: 1624 kg