Saturday, April 11, 2015

2015 Jeep Renegade Sport

A Jeep built it Italy … it sounds like the beginnings of a bad joke about the Second World War. But the Italian built Renegade is actually the latest in a string of surprising successes from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).

While the Renegade won’t — at least immediately — be replacing the Compass and Patriot, it is the first budget Jeep to keep the brand’s ethos intact. The littlest Jeep manages to combine a healthy smear of Fiat’s sense of humor with a surprising degree of practicality, especially in the just plain silly subcompact crossover segment. The Renegade isn’t even close to perfect. With its charm and capabilities, however, you would have to be some kind of monster not to like the twee Jeepster.

For a vehicle that is expected to live up to the rugged Jeep name, the Renegade doesn’t exactly have the most auspicious parentage. Underneath the charming exterior the Renegade shares the same Small-Wide architecture as the Fiat 500L and 500X.

With this family tree, I wasn’t expecting the Renegade to have the feel or performance that goes with the Jeep name. So it was with surprise — but no lack of appreciation — that I discovered the rough and ready soul of the Renegade.

For starters, the steering and ride offer an impressive combination of refinement and truck-like ruggedness. The Renegade even manages to take corners without getting ruffled.

This doesn’t mean that the Renegade is quick, even when fitted with the 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder, as had been my Renegade Sport press demonstrator. In the Renegade this venerable Italian four-pot puts out 180 Italian stallions and more importantly 175 pound feet of torque. Mated to a nine-speed transmission this combination is good for a stately 8.8 second “sprint” to 60.

That being said, unlike other Tigershark applications, the version in the Renegade at least delivers reasonable torque at most rpm.