I have had a love/hate relationship with Jeep for as long as I can remember. I don’t question the utility or ruggedness of the franchise, but at times I have had issues with looks and with serviceability.
The idea of a brawny little sport utility – the Wrangler comes to mind – is very appealing. It looks great, can handle itself in anything and won’t totally kill you at the pump. But there have been years when engines (like the Pentastar) has been problematic. Soft and hard-tops that leaks and a bunch of other issues with things like exhaust and air intake. From a design perspective, Jeep has made some mistakes over the year. The patriot was an eye-sore. The Grand Cherokee got a little soft on us for a while, before getting really soft, and other vehicles came into the fold only to be discontinued (like the Liberty.) So what does Jeep have in store for us now?
Their first foray into the truly compact SUV market is the Renegade. It purportedly still manages to deliver the same 4×4 capability you can expect from a Jeep, borrowing its off-road technology from the Cherokee. Trying to make a lot of people happy requires flexibility and in a market liek the compact SUV, 16 different engine and transmission combinations, four gas and two diesel engines, a nine-speed automatic, or several manual transmissions are a great way to go. Inside it’s kitted out with a touchscreen display to control the infotainment system, advanced safety and security features, an open air roof (another first), and more.
Interesting styling to say the least! (I see way too many influences of Kia, Nissan and especially a Toyota Rav4 from a few years back here.) You’ve got squared off features, a wrapping rear window, 17″ off-road rims, and tow hooks to give it an aggressive stance. Let’s hope its easy in the wallet and wrench as it is on the eyes of its clearly young target audience.