On the road with the 2015 Jeep Renegade

Auto Tech
[MUSIC] The new Jeep Renagade has the undeniable appeal of a Hot Wheels car. It's cool, compact, and craveable. And we have the top of the line, the Trailhawk. [NOISE] Let's check this out. [MUSIC] When I saw this Jeep Renegade get unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show back 2014, I was pretty sure we were looking at a three-quarter scale mock-up, so they could get it to fit up on the [UNKNOWN] There. This actually shares the platform with the Fiat 500X. It's a sub-compact, but with real, all-wheel drive as its passport into this very busy sector of the auto biz. These Rengades are made right alongside Fiat at a FCA plant in Melfi, Italy. In a sense you're getting an American icon and an Italian car for under $30,000. You can't do that with a pantera. Now inside the Renegade I get the feeling they're trying to emphasize it's jeepness to take your mind off its Italianess and its smallness. The Jeep shtick is everywhere. It's here, it's here, it's here, and it's there. There are several available you connect head units on the Renegade. Ours is an upscale six and a half inch touch screen. Also voice driven. We've seen and liked this guy before Mostly for its simple, almost cartoony interface. It's got highly rated easy to use Garmin navigation. There are a handful of apps you can load if the App Store itself ever loads. And a wi-fi hotspot can be configured in this car as well. An interesting sunroof option called My Sky. It powers back like most. But the you can also pop out the front and or rear panels entirely, to get a really big hole, obstructed however, by a structural bar. Under the hood our high trim, trail hog version has the big engine and even that's only 2.4 liters and four cylinders. There's 180 horse power and 175 pound feet of torque through a nine speed automatic only. Average MPG is 24. In addition to blind spot technology, you can also option a renegade with forward collision technology that will actively brake for you and active lane departure technology that will steer you back in your lane. Those are unusual in this class. On the road I am afraid to report no. The drive behavior of this power Train is rubbery and loopy. It made a 2.4 feel like a 1.4 and made a nine speed automatic feel like a CDT but neither of those is admirable. Of course, on the positive side, we have real all wheel drive underneath including on this particular Renegade, a twenty to one crawl mode and of course you've got all wheel drive Lock, you've got real load range and it's got different approach, departure, skid pans front and rear. Even bright red tow hooks. This is serious off roader, not just an all wheel drive vehicle. It's of note that even a four by four Renegade like this can be a true front wheel drive vehicle, unless you need all four driven. It physically disconnects the rear drive until needed, all in interest of less drag and better fuel economy. Now, under our Renegade we have the first use of Koni's frequency selective damping shocks. These mechanically change their firmness based on the frequency of the inputs coming up through the wheel. That way they'll be ideal for handling on smooth roads, but be more comfortable and forgiving on bad ones, all without expensive electronic adaptive suspension. I found the handling on smooth corners was quite good. The ride quality on choppy pavement was kind of choppy. In sum, the Renegade looks great, drives like hell, but that's not going to hurt its sales prospects. It's entering just about the hottest category in the U.S. auto market, And it's a Jeep. More cars driven CNET style, standing by now at CNETonCars.com. Click On the Road. [SOUND]

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