2015 Jeep Renegade: The littlest Jeep has big ambitions (CNET On Cars, Episode 73)

Jeep boldly enters a new category with an Italian 4x4, cars that brake for you are making a difference, and something new is replacing your car's battery.

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In this episode:

  • 2015 Jeep Renegade is going to sell all day long. It's tiny, hot, Italian and capable. I just hate driving it and will show you why.
  • Smarter Driver: Forward collision technology and self-braking systems rated.
  • Car Tech 101: Capacitors are arriving under a car hood near you. Here's why they are better than batteries.
  • Your emails:
    • Do you really need to put nitrogen in your tires?
    • How to survive a nasty rollover accident with three key technologies.

When I first saw the new Jeep Renegade at Geneva a couple years ago I thought it was only for export markets: Nothing that small would wear a Jeep badge in America. Wrong. Jeep has fully embraced the subcompact crossover ethic with the Renegade and done it in far from "me too" fashion. Too bad it's such a drag to drive thanks to a rubbery, numb powertrain.

The most fundamental way a car can assist you with technology is to keep you from running into something, right? And that's where forward collision warning and avoidance tech is really taking its place among the must-have car technologies. So much so that the folks at IIHS have started rating cars according to its presence and how well it works.

If you tinker with electronics, you know how capacitors differ from batteries, even though both store electricity. If you have never picked up a soldering iron, this episode's Car Tech 101 shows you why a cap is much better than a battery at a range of new and coming car tech tasks.

We have email this week from a viewer who was in a nasty rollover collision. Had the car he was riding in been a few years newer (or a 2016 Volvo!) he might have come out in a lot better shape. And I'll take on the recurring question about nitrogen in tires. Short answer: You can skip it and get by with a little discipline instead.