Now that the Fiat and Chrysler merger has completed, expect to see vehicles on both sides of the Atlantic sharing similar platforms and technology. The Jeep Renegade is one of those vehicles. Debuting at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, the Renegade is the smallest Jeep that they make, and it is built off of the Fiat Panda / 500 platform. Available with 4-wheel drive, an advanced off-road mode, and a diesel engine, the new Renegade will offer a lot of punch when it goes on sale in the United States as a 2015 model. Here are seven new or exciting features that make the Jeep Renegade unique.
Jeep Active Drive Low
The Jeep Renegade features an all-wheel drive system designed for off-roading, especially in the Trailhawk trim. In addition to offering 4WD, the Renegade has a low range 4WD mode, with a 20:1 crawl ratio. What this means is that for serious off-roading, like rock crawling, the transmission slows the vehicle to a snail’s pace, while still offering the torque needed to make it over a rock. For serious off-roading, a low range mode is a must.
Hill Descent Control
The off-road Trailhawk version will come standard with hill descent control. This technology applies the brakes automatically when driving down a hill to maintain a certain speed. It does this without the driver pressing his or her foot on the brake pedal. By utilizing the transmission shifter’s up and down functions, a driver can also select the speed of the vehicle when using the system
Disconnecting Rear Axle
Small vehicles save space by configuring their vehicles to be front-wheel drive. That means the engine is mounted transversely (from left to right) to save space. The Renegade uses the same setup, but takes the 4WD concept a step further. Whenever 4WD is needed, the system electronically connects the rear axle and sends power to it, but when it is not needed it is completely disconnected from the front drivetrain. This means that under normal driving, the Renegade is a true front-wheel drive vehicle, and shouldn’t suffer the fuel economy penalty of having the rear connected all the time, like in other 4WD small vehicles.
Selec-Terrain System with Rock Mode
From the driver’s seat, an individual can tell the Renegade what type of surface that it is on. They can choose from Snow, Sand, Mud, or Rock, as well as an Auto mode. The onboard computers then set the power, steering input, traction control, and 4WD settings to the most optimal for each condition. Selecting Rock, for example, would enable the 4WD locking system and engage the low-range mode.
Left in Auto, the system attempts to determine what surface the Jeep is on by using sensors throughout the vehicle. In Auto mode, the system is reactionary; meaning that until a wheel slips in the snow it will not know it is in snow. Auto mode does take the guesswork out of off-roading though.
Uconnect with TFT Instrument Cluster
Like many Fiat Chrysler products, the Renegade will be available with Uconnect. This system offers advanced features like navigation, phone integration, Yelp reviews, and more. When we sampled the system, we were impressed with its capabilities. In addition, the main instrument cluster features an available electronic display that can show vital vehicle information. This can include navigation information, radio station information, or redundant analog gauges.
We indicated earlier some of the cool features of the Trailhawk model, but offering a Trailhawk is just as exciting as each of those features. The Trailhawk is what ties the Renegade to its roots. The Trailhawk features the Trail Rated badge, skid plates underneath, and the low range 4WD system. The special Jeep can ford 19 inches of water, and with the diesel engine, tow 3,300lbs of gear.
The Jeep will be available with a diesel engine (that we hope will make it to the United States). This allows the vehicle to tow 3,300lbs of gear. Also, when paired to the optional 9-speed automatic transmission, should allow the for Renegade to have excellent fuel economy. Diesels are fantastic in these applications, and we hope to see them in more Jeep vehicles (including the Cherokee), in the future.
Jeep has addressed concerns of the Renegade not being a real Jeep by giving it serious off-road credentials. Some of this technology used to only be available in much larger, more expensive vehicles. When the Renegade goes on sale, we expect it to be priced lower than a similarly-equipped Cherokee, and turn some heads off-road. We look forward to spending time with the new baby Jeep.