The Renegade is the new baby of the Jeep family and is based on the same “Small US Wide 4X4” platform as the new Fiat 500X SUV that it is built alongside in Italy.
While it hasn’t been confirmed exactly what models will arrive in New Zealand when the Renegade is launched here early in 2016, in the US market it is offered in four models - Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk - with a wide range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines and transmissions.
It is expected the Asia Pacific region will see the availability of the 1.4 engine with a choice of either the manual transmission, a six-speed dual clutch or the 9-speed auto, the 2.4 with the 9-speed auto and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine with a choice of the manual or the 9-speeder.
The Sport, Latitude (known as Longitude in some markets) and Limited come as standard in FWD guise, but are available with the Jeep Active Drive full-time 4WD system, as well as Jeep’s Selec-Terrain traction system with settings for Mud, Snow Sand or Auto.
The Trailhawk is 4WD-only and features the Active Drive Low 4WD system that brings a 20:1 crawl ratio, as well as an increased ride height, underbody protection and a Rock mode on the Selec-Terrain system.
The Renegade impresses from first sight, with a strong Wrangler/Willys-inspired look that works remarkably well on the small platform. While in photos it can appear a bit awkward and rather contrived, in the metal it comes across as a far more convincing and cohesive design.
The Jeep styling cues continue inside, with the “X” motif that features on the roof and taillights (and represents the jerry can on the back of the original Willys Jeep) putting in a number of appearances, along with the seven-slot grille/headlights icon, the “Since 1941” dashboard proclamation and the dash-mounted grab handle.
While we were expecting the Trailhawk to be impressive off the road, the extent to which it was - particularly after how impressed we were with it on the road - still came as a surprise to us.