Preview: Jeep Renegade

Jeep Renegade

Jeep Renegade - Credit: Archant

Classic American 4x4 brand Jeep has a new junior star aiming to attack the crossover and small SUV/4x4 sectors

A tough recession was needed to convince 4x4 fans that they didn’t actually need all-wheel drive to get the ‘funky chunky’ looks they crave.

Instead, economical front-wheel drive soft roaders have become the recent norm rather than those with full 4x4 kit.

But what if you still need decent yet affordable off-road ability wrapped up in a family size car?

It would seem that Jeep - America’s 4x4 star - has the best answers for would-be buyers from both camps, having launched the mid-size Cherokee last year and followed up with a new junior model arriving this month.

Like the Cherokee, the new Renegade, is available in front-wheel drive as well as 4x4 models - true to a heritage born on Second World War battlefields.

It is Jeep’s first entry into the small SUV-cum-crossover sector dominated by Nissan’s Qashqai and Juke, with other key rivals being the Skoda Yeti and Vauxhall Mokka.

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The potential edge for the Renegade is Jeep’s 4x4 image - highlighted by the long-running Jeep Wrangler - and available from only £16,995 for the front-wheel drive only 1.6-litre eTorq Evo 110hp Sport.

Even the highly specified 2.0-litre MJet 170hp 4x4 Auto Low Trailhawk flagship model costs just £27,995 and brings 17-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, transfer case, front suspension and fuel tank skid plates, heated front seats and steering wheel, leather upholstery and rear parking sensors.

Interestingly, for this all-American brand the Renegade is the first model in the brand’s history to be built in Italy - home of Jeep’s modern-day parent Fiat.

It is also the first vehicle from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to be developed jointly by Italian and American designers and engineers; not so strange, however, when you remember that Fiat’s small Panda 4x4 has long been revered for its own off-road prowess.

Naturally Jeep claims the newcomer is the right size for both city and countryside, offering best-in-class interior roominess, good on-road dynamics and supreme off-road capabilities in 4x4 form.

It has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating too and is the first in class to offer a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The car is also distinctively ‘Jeep’ with its round headlamps, signature seven-slot grille and trapezoidal wheel arches.

Two open-air roof systems are offered: a large electric sliding glass roof or a unique-to-segment ‘My Sky’ set-up: two panels, which can be removed and stowed in the boot.

Jeep Renegade

Price: from £16,995

Driving appeal: **** (predicted)

Image: ****

Space: ****

Value: *****

Running costs: ****

Reliability: ****

How green?: ****

Best rival: Nissan Qashqai

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