Renegade may be made in Italy and is more cute than rugged with rounded edges and chunky panels, but it still deserves to wear the Jeep badge.
The signature seven-slot grille and round headlamps are all iconic Jeep. And it can be rigged for far tougher off-road adventures than competitors, including its cousin, Fiat 500X.
This is year two for the playful-looking Renegade with about 114,000 sold through June 2016. The numbers are on the rise, matching Jeep’s Compass and closing in on Patriot but still well behind the rugged Wrangler and larger Cherokee and Grand Cherokee.
The biggest change for the current model year is the availability of a Beats (a division of Apple) premium audio system. Rain-sensing windshield wipers also now are available.
Prices start at $18,990, same as last year. That gets you a front-wheel drive Sport model with a 1.4-liter, 160-horsepower 4-cylinder turbo engine. Add $1,280 to move into the 2.4-liter, 180-horse 4 with a 9-speed automatic.
The turbo does best on fuel economy rated at 27 miles per gallon in combined driving, but that’s using premium gas. The 2.4-liter is rated at 25 using regular.
Inside you get a nice mix of soft-touch materials, solid construction and chunky grips and such tying into Renegade’s exterior look.
Front buckets are comfortable with roomy surrounds, but the back is not very hospitable for anyone with long legs. The payload floor has a hidden compartment, or you can remove the top for a deeper storage well. Rear seats as well as the front passenger seat flip forward on all but the 2WD Sport.
You can find small crossovers that run a little less than the Renegade, but its price is fair. But there are a lot of tempting options to send that sticker soaring. Start with basic 4-wheel drive for about two grand or the Dawn of Justice (Batman v. Superman) special edition that starts just over 27K.
A cool feature on my bright yellow tester was the $1,495 My Sky roof system with two panels that either tilt up at the touch of a button or can be removed entirely.
Roadside and emergency help are available at the touch of a button, HD radio, voice texting and a large 7-inch screen are among Uconnect infotainment options.
Safety gear ranges from blind-spot monitoring to a parking aid and rear cross-traffic alert.
There are a ton of choices when it comes to small crossovers. Renegade’s ride and drive are more harsh than most and it’s not as powerful or fuel efficient as many rivals. But if you want to hit the trail, or just want a rig that’s youthful and fun in the sun – snow and mud too – then this little Jeep is a top choice.
Compact sport utility
MPG: 24/31 to 21/29
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: 4 of 5 stars for front impact; 5 for side; 3 for rollover resistance with 4-wheel drive, 4 with front-drive; www.safercar.gov
J.D. Power: 2 of 5 for overall quality, performance and design and predicted reliability; www.jdpower.com/cars
Competitors: Chevrolet Trax, Fiat 500X, Honda Fit and HR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Wrangler and Cherokee, Kia Soul and Sportage, Mazda CX-3, Mini Cooper Countryman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Juke, Subaru Crosstrek
Bottom line: A fun little crossover capable of off-road adventure
Newest Jeep Wrangler goes retro 75th year marked with single salute to WWII model
Most companies wouldn’t make a point of highlighting how slowly they’ve innovated over the last 75 years, but Jeep isn’t like most companies.
To mark the 75th anniversary of Willys-Overland signing the military contract to build Jeeps for World War II, current Jeep parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles built in Toledo a special, single version of the Jeep Wrangler that looks strikingly similar to an original Willys MB.
The vehicle was met with cheers Friday after rolling off the assembly line at Fiat Chrysler’s Toledo Assembly Complex and being promptly parked next to an original WWII Willys.
“I’m so glad that we did this because it shows how slow we’ve evolved. With a couple quick modifications, we took the doors and the roof off, retrimmed the seats, cut off the roll bar, put on some military ties, and the right color, it’s just a nice connection to the past,” said Mark Allen, the top designer for Jeep. “No one else could do this.”
To be fair, there are major differences between the 60-horsepower 1941 Willys MB and the 285-horsepower 2016 Jeep Wrangler. The WWII-era Jeep was doing good to hit 60 mph, didn’t have any kind of seat belts, sounded like a tractor, and lacked certain creature comforts, such as doors.
Still, put them side by side and there’s no question that Jeep has stayed true to its roots, even as the years and owners passed.
In a statement, Mike Manley, the head of the Jeep brand for Fiat Chrysler, said that the company created the Jeep Wrangler 75th Salute “to demonstrate that 75 years later, today’s iconic Jeep Wrangler is instantly recognizable and clearly connected to the original Willys MB.”
The build took about five hours to complete. The Wrangler 75th Salute, the only such vehicle the company will make, started life as a regular Sport model that got a special coat of olive drab paint. Workers at the plant threw out the doors, chopped off the roll cage, installed special seat coverings, bumpers from the Jeep J-8 export model, and 32-inch military nondirectional tires on steel rims. There also were other smaller touches, such as 419 stenciled on the bumper and Friday’s date stenciled on the hood in place of an Army vehicle identification number.
Plant Manager Chuck Padden said the company’s design office came up with the idea after plant officials had begun thinking about ways to celebrate the 75th anniversary. It took a few weeks of planning to prepare the line to build a one-of-one vehicle, but it all came together flawlessly.
“The team did a really good job of coordinating this,” he said. “We didn’t stop the line with this special build at all. In fact, the workforce is probably on track for about a record build today.”
Toledo-based Willys-Overland built 370,000 Jeeps for the military during World War II. The firm quickly shifted to civilian production as the war drew down. In the decades since, millions of Jeeps have been sold across the world. The Toledo Assembly Complex built about 530,000 Jeeps last year.
Fiat Chrysler intends to keep the one-of-one Wrangler for special events, likely to include the Toledo Jeep Fest on Aug. 13, a public celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Jeep brand set in downtown Toledo.
For Mr. Allen, a longtime Jeep employee, the project was one of special indulgence — especially the fact that it was built in Toledo.
“It was fun. We could have built it almost anywhere, any shop. But to build it on the line?” he said. “I think it’s good for the soul.”
Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6134.
July 15, 2016 at 3:16 pm by Greg Fink
75-Year Salute: Jeep’s Anniversary Gift to Itself Is This Willys MB–Inspired Concept
On July 15, 1941, Willys-Overland Motor Co. was awarded a contract by the U.S. government to build its versatile, go-anywhere Willys MB—soon to be known as the jeep—for military use. Seventy-five years later, the basic spirit of the Willys MB lives on in the modern Jeep Wrangler.
To celebrate the occasion, Jeep crafted the Wrangler 75th Salute concept. Based on the base Wrangler Sport with a six-speed manual transmission, the Wrangler 75th Salute concept is dipped in olive green military paint and features body-color fenders as well as 16-inch steel wheels mounted on 32-inch military tires. The look is classic Jeep and is somewhat reminiscent of the Shortcut concept from this year’s Easter Jeep Safari.
To fully channel the look of the original Willys MB, though, Jeep also fitted the 75th Salute with exposed steel front and rear bumpers, canvas-covered seats sans headrests, and commemorative badging (it also ditched the modern vehicle’s integrated rollover bar). Jeep also notes that it added custom wood hood blocks and mirrors to the concept.
Sadly, the Wrangler 75th Salute is merely a concept, and given its low-back front seats, cut bumpers, and apparent lack of rollover bar, it doesn’t meet the modern safety requirements needed to reach production. The closest thing (sort of) that you can get from a dealer today is the Willys edition. So, consider the 75th Salute concept to be Jeep’s gift to itself—a really, really fantastic one.
Robert Duffer, Tribune News Service Updated Jun 28, 2016
I had a friend who drove a soft-top Jeep Wrangler TJ all across the country all through our itinerant 20s. Loud, unruly, inefficient and mindlessly fun, it was a perfect symbol for the wayward post-college years.
A decade or three removed, I thought of that Wrangler while driving the Jeep Renegade, which is smarter, safer, and more secure in its direction. The grille, headlights and boxy style are all Wrangler-inspired, and the tester’s bright Omaha Orange color was a nod to the 1976 CJ5.
Renegade is a more refined Jeep, more versatile than rugged, yet it’s still a hill of fun.
Renegade was launched for model year 2015 on the crest of a wave of subcompact crossovers landing in the North American market. The Trailhawk-rated version is the only cute ute with any legitimate off-road capability.
Most importantly, this global-market vehicle feels and looks like a Jeep, even without all the kitschy brand heritage reminders, from the grille-shaped speakers to the shovel-shaped grab handle and the X-ed out taillights.
In steep, muddy, and rocky courses at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., and the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill., the trail-rated Trailhawk was able to keep pace with the Wrangler, despite smaller wheels, arches and a shorter ground clearance of 8.7 inches, same as the Cherokee midsize SUV. It’s no Wrangler; it dips its small wheels in, more than plowing through, but the 4×4 gets the job done.
There are five drive settings, including mud, snow, sand and rock in a dynamic four-wheel drive system Jeep calls Selec-Terrain. It can be used in normal road surfaces with snow or wet conditions to minimize spinouts and to start in second gear so the wheels won’t make a rut when taking off.
The Active Drive 4×4 Low system specific to the Trailhawk models lets the Renegade crawl over rocks and other uneven terrain due to all sorts of engineering wizardry. The brake-lock differential, for example, stops one wheel from spinning and delivers all the torque in that axle to the wheel that is planted. So long, log blocking the road.
Hill descent is another magical function that, once activated, will overtake the gas and brake pedals. It’s a leap of faith, especially teetering over a rocky descent, but so is any complex mechanics. The driver can brake if he feels the need to do something other than steer.
The little buddy with the 2.4-liter Tigershark engine churns out 177 pound-feet of torque, and can tow up to 2,000 pounds, good enough to lug the ATV or Harley. It’ll also turn those two red tow hooks on the front, or the one on the rear, into a rescue device instead of just a cool visual component.
The wizardry doesn’t stop once the Trailhawk is back on the road. Because it’s wiser than the Wrangler, the rear axle disconnects from the powertrain when it’s not needed. Sounds ominous but it’s a fuel saving device reverting the Renegade to a front-wheel drive vehicle that is more efficient, smoother and quieter. Paired to a nine-speed transmission that initially gave FCA all kinds of trouble in the Jeep Cherokee, the four-cylinder engine is good enough to deliver 24 mpg combined, which is one of the worst for a subcompact crossover but the best for a Jeep. Trade-offs are so adult.
All this sophisticated mechanical capability means owners should be on good terms with a Jeep service center, who must be among the few who can fix problems should they arise.
Keeping with Jeep’s manual, hands-on heritage, the tester came with twin removable roof panels known as My Sky. The two panels over both rows of seats are like lengthwise T-tops, except the safety engineers made sure it was a two-handed operation so fun-seekers ditching work wouldn’t be removing the panels while on their way to the beach. A key (best stowed in the glove box) unlocks the panel, then a latch pops it free. You could theoretically remove it from a seated position, but it’s best to stand on the door sill and remove it from the top. A padded storage bag in the back keeps the panels secure, though it does limit how much you can stuff in the small cargo area.
The 60/40 rear seats provide plenty of space, and for solo adventurers the front passenger seat folds forward for stowing long boards and other gear. The easy-to-clean black cloth seats with red stitching also have a contour map of Moab, the off-road Mecca that Jeep celebrates annually with its Easter Safari.
One last cute ute feature on the interior is the dual vents positioned like eyes above the backup camera. Many have called it WALL-E, the titular robot compactor that only Pixar could make cute, and you just may find yourself giving its `head’ a pet or two before leaving the vehicle.
The Renegade Trailhawk is great for people who don’t need the regular ruggedness of a Wrangler, but who are still tempted to detour off the road well-traveled into the unknown.
Since 1941, the Jeep brand shaped the automotive industry as we know it today. To celebrate this significant milestone, we’ve put together a list of ten models that made Jeep a household name.
A brand linked to freedom, adventure, and high spirits, Jeep has this certain unwavering commitment of doing everything in its own way. The first glimpse of the “Go Anywhere. Do Anything” mantra came in 1940 when a freelancer called Karl Probst laid out the blueprints for a reconnaissance car in just two days. The Bantam Reconnaissance Car was born and good golly, the prototype met the U.S. Army’s criteria for a go-anywhere vehicle except for the engine’s torque.
The Bantam Reconnaissance Car was further adapted by Willys-Overland and FoMoCo. The Blue Oval is to thank for the pressed-metal front grille design, while Willys deserves our praise for finalizing the 4WD reconnaissance car into what we refer to as the Willys Quad. The Willys MB would go into mass production in 1941, the year Irving Hausmann, a test driver on the Willys development team, coined the term “Jeep” during a press event in Washington D.C.
Over the course of 75 years, Jeep went on to prove that a badge is more than just the business card of a brand. If it weren’t for the MB and the civilian models that started production in 1945, we wouldn’t have had Land Rover, the Toyota Land Cruiser, and to some extent, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It’s necessary to mention that Jeep is the best-selling brand owned by the faltering Italo-American manufacturer.
These said, let’s go through ten of the models that made Jeep… well, Jeep.
Willys-Overland MA and Willys-Overland MB (1941 – 1945)
“Genesis” is the word that best defines the Willys-Overland MA and MB. Instead of focusing on the pre-production MA, let’s fast-forward to the MB. After arduous testing, the U.S. Army awarded the contract for 16,000 examples to Willys in July 1941, at a unit price of 738 dollars and 74 cents. Accounting for the rate of inflation, that’s $12,025 in 2016 or less than the price of the cheapest car on sale in the U.S. today.
Between 1941 and 1945, Willys-Overland and FoMoCo built a total of 637,385 military jeeps. The MB doesn’t hold the title for the first 4×4 vehicle ever made, but it influenced every 4×4 vehicle that came after.
World War II reporter Ernie Pyle sums up what made the Willys MB great better than anyone else: “It did everything. It went everywhere. Was faithful as a dog, as strong as a mule, and as agile as a goat. It constantly carried twice what it was designed for and still kept going.”
Willys-Overland Jeep CJ-2A (1945 – 1949)
After the World War II ended and the United States got out of that horrible mess known as The Great Depression, peace ensued. Returning GIs had money to spend, the economy was flourishing, the automotive industry kept going forward. Given the circumstances, Willys-Overland adapted the military jeep into a civilian vehicle.
The Jeep CJ-2A was conceived as a tool to put workhorses out to pasture and help farmers do their thing without the aid of a truck or tractor. Thus, Willys-Overland labeled the CJ-2A as “the all-around farm workhorse.” The second most important catchline used by the company to advertise the CJ-2A was “a powerhouse on wheels.”
Thanks to a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of 1,090 dollars (approximately $14,490 nowadays) and strong product marketing, sales of the CJ-2A soared and America fell in love with the Jeep brand.
Willys Jeep Station Wagon (1946 – 1965)
The Station Wagon increased the popularity of the Jeep brand by reaching out to families and small businesses. The first all-steel station wagon developed as a passenger vehicle from the get-go ended production in 1965. That wasn’t the death of the Jeep Wagon, though.
In fact, the last example of the breed was built in 1981 by Ford Rural in Brazil. In the United States of America, the start of production in 1946 coincided with the era that saw young families head for the suburbs. Willys really hit the nail on the head with the Jeep Station Wagon.
Willys perfected the model in 1949 when 4WD was added to the mix. Here’s how Consumer Reports put it in the magazine’s October 1950 issue: “The Willys Station Wagon, used as it is intended to be used, has no equal in its field… It is a working car and it does its work well.”
Jeep Gladiator Pickup Truck (1962 – 1988)
The successor of the 1947 Willys-Overland Truck is the model that put Jeep on the pickup truck market in grand style. Introduced for the 1963 model year, the Gladiator was the first non-military design since the Station Wagon we’ve talked about beforehand. And it was a huge hit.
Available in 120-inch J-200 or 126-inch J-300 forms, the Gladiator full-size pickup truck sold like hot cakes. Configurations were plentiful, the reason the Jeep Gladiator wooed some customers away from the more popular Chevrolet C/K, Ford F-Series, and Dodge D-Series. In total, the Gladiator came in seven configurations: Townside (wide box), Thriftside (narrow box), Chassis, Cab, Stake Bed, Wrecker, and Chassis Camper.
Between 1962 and 1988, the utilitarian Gladiator changed its name to the J-Series, then to the Pickup, and it was built by four different outfits: Willys Motors (1962), Kaiser Jeep Corporation (1963 – 1970), American Motors (1970 – 1987), and Chrysler (1987 – 1988). The compact-sized Jeep Comanche pickup truck is to blame for the demise of the Gladiator.
Jeep Wagoneer (1963 – 1983)
Most people tend to think that Land Rover invented the luxury SUV with the advent of the Range Rover in 1970. I’m sorry to burst these people’s bubble, but Kaiser Jeep is the pioneer of the said segment. Three years after the Wagoneer was introduced, Kaiser Jeep introduced the Super Wagoneer. Sadly, the Super Wagoneer was an SUV before its time.
The Kaiser Jeep Corporation produced around 1,200 Super Wagoneer vehicles because the world wasn’t prepared to understand that luxury can be intertwined with the capability of a sport utility vehicle. Compared to the Wagoneer, the Super Wagoneer boasted goodies such as air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, power tailgate, power steering and brakes, and a push-button radio. Simply put, it was the bee’s knees.
Standard equipment and the more refined powertrain made the Super Wagoneer incredibly pricey too. At $5,943, the Super Wagoneer was almost twice the money. The Wagoneer wasn’t exactly scanty, though. The bottom line is, the 1963 Jeep Wagoneer is the first car to match an automatic transmission to a 4×4 system. It goes without saying that this winning combination defined all sport utility vehicles ever since.
Jeep Cherokee SJ (1974 – 1983)
For all intents and purposes, the Wagoneer was a recreational vehicle with a whiff of premium to it. Although based on the Wagoneer, the first generation of the Jeep Cherokee wasn’t a premium sport utility vehicle. It was developed to appeal to younger guns, those individuals who were driven to school by their parents in a Wagoneer in the swinging sixties.
It was advertised as being sporty, albeit it definitely wasn’t. Heck, it even had bucket seats and a sports steering wheel. And yes, little things like these ensured the commercial success of the Cherokee SJ. Essentially the two-door sibling of the Wagoneer, the Cherokee leveled up to four doors by 1977, a change that prompted Jeep to rethink its model lineup.
By 1984, the AMC did just that by downsizing the full-size Cherokee SJ to the compact-sized Cherokee XJ. Because of this, American Motors decided to rename the Wagoneer Limited to Grand Wagoneer, a little trick would keep the pickup truck-based SUV on life support until 1991.
Jeep Grand Wagoneer (1984 – 1991)
Dubbed “the gold standard of the SUV market,” the Grand Wagoneer couldn’t hide its age. When all is said and done, the Wagoneer family didn’t change too much from a mechanical point of view during its 28-year production run. A tell-tale example of the old-school approach comes from 1987, the year the Chrysler Corporation bought out AMC.
Although Chrysler had a fuel-injected V8 at hand, Chrysler thought that it would be best to stick with the carbureted AMC V8 engine. Why? As the old saying goes, Chrysler was milking the cash cow. Alas, the Grand Wagoneer became one of the last vehicles sold in North America with a carburetor. This not-so-fun fact is even more ridiculous when you think that AMC offered electronic fuel injection in 1957 for the Rambler Rebel.
All in all, the antiquated Jeep Grand Wagoneer embodies two extremes specific to the brand: defiance to the norm and cult following. With the demise of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer and the emergence of the Grand Cherokee, Jeep stopped making full-size sport utility vehicles in 1991.
Jeep Wrangler YJ (1986 – 1995)
The CJ Series was getting long in the tooth by the time Falco released Rock Me Amadeus, Berlin took our breath away, and Madonna urged her papa not to preach. The last CJ-7 units ever produced came with a plaque that read: “Last of a Great Breed – This collectors edition CJ ends an era that began with the legendary Jeep of World War II.” The gap left by the long-lived CJ Series was filled by the Jeep Wrangler YJ.
They do look alike, don’t they? Especially in the aesthetics department, there was little difference between the CJ-7 and Wrangler YJ. In spite of that, the millennial upped the ante with the suspension, drivetrain, and creature comforts of the Cherokee SJ. The modern hardware didn’t spell the end of the body-on-frame, rigid axles or fold-flat windshield. In a way, Jeep improved the recipe pioneered by the CJ with user-friendliness.
The Cherokee SJ-CJ-7 mashup Wrangler YJ was superseded by the TJ in 1996, then by the JK in 2007. In the spring of 2017, the fourth generation of the Wrangler will start production. The heavily awaited Wrangler JL will introduce two never-before-seen things on a Wrangler: a gasoline-powered turbo-four engine and a hybrid powertrain. Oh, and another thing: the Wrangler JL will reintroduce the pickup truck body style.
Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ (1992 – 1998)
When Jeep smashed the Grand Cherokee ZJ through the convention center’s glass at the 1992 Detroit Auto Show, the automaker made it clear that the competition isn’t as grandiose or cool as Jeep. This PR stunt convinced other manufacturers to rush and imitate the mid-size luxury sport utility vehicle formula pioneered by the Grand Cherokee.
The first SUV to be equipped with a driver’s side airbag isn’t as luxurious as Jeep wanted you to believe it was in 1992. A five-speed stick shift and cloth seats isn’t my idea of luxury. Nevertheless, the Grand Cherokee ZJ was an instant hit. It also won lots of awards from the motoring media, including the coveted Truck of the Year award from Motor Trend.
The ZJ Series also spawned something called the 1993 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. Don’t be fooled by the name, though, because this isn’t anything but a top-of-the-line package that includes woodgrain trim and a 5.2-liter V8. Jeep will resurrect the Grand Wagoneer nameplate in 2018 for a luxed-up Grand Cherokee. With a bit of luck, the all-new Grand Wagoneer will be motivated by a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 from Maserati.
Jeep Renegade BU (2014 – present)
Ah, the Renegade. Nevermind the fact that the platform the Renegade is based on was introduced in 2005 by General Motors and Fiat. Nevermind the fact that the Fiat 500X shares the underpinnings and the 101.2-inch (2,570 mm) wheelbase. As my colleague pointed out in his test drive of the Jeep Renegade, this thing makes you happy in a devil-may-care sort of way.
The first subcompact-sized Jeep model isn’t a first for the brand, but a response to the Nissan Juke, Chevrolet Trax, Mini Countryman, and Renault Captur, among other cars of this type. Then again, the Jeep Renegade has more presence and a bigger appeal than its main rivals thanks to trademark design motifs such as the round headlights, military jerrycan-inspired X in the taillights, and, of course, the seven-slot grille.
In Trailhawk form, the Renegade also walks the walk with best-in-class 4×4 capability. In the same way, the Levante is the Maserati of SUVs, the Renegade is the Jeep of subcompact SUVs. The Renegade might not appeal to diehard fans, but it’s definitely worthy of its Jeep badge.