2016 Jeep Renegade Preview

What should we expect?

It isn’t every day that a completely new SUV is launched, especially by a specialist manufacturer like Jeep. That’s why the model-year ’15 Renegade is such big news and why there is so much anticipation about its imminent release. It may have been almost unthinkable only a few years ago that an crossover would be built on a platform as compact as that of the Fiat 500L, but that’s exactly what has happened with this vehicle, and it looks to be the best product to arise so far from the marriage between Fiat and Chrysler. It should set new standards for ruggedness and capability in the rapidly expanding subcompact SUV segment, in a way only a true specialist like Jeep can.

Why should I wait for the 2016?

With international versions of the vehicle getting more engine and transmission options than the U.S. version will offer from the start, some buyers could be tempted to wait a year to see if there are more choices. However, it’s unlikely that we will see diesel Renegades in the States anytime soon, so there isn’t really much of an incentive to put you off buying one as soon as possible.

What about the styling?

Because this is a Jeep, it will be more capable than just about anything else that cares to call itself a rival in this segment. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t stylish, because it certainly is. In fact, more people will probably buy it based on its looks than its off-road capabilities. Although it has a stylish and funky look both inside and out, it is still every inch a Jeep, which means it should have an extremely wide appeal with both urban and not-so-urban buyers.

What about the powertrain?

Although it is a completely new model in the lineup, the two available engine and transmission combinations will be familiar to anyone who knows the current Fiat and Chrysler lineups. Firstly, there will be a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivering 160 horsepower and 184 pound feet of torque with a six-speed manual gearbox. But for those who want a little more power and capability, there will also be the option of a 2.4-liter “TigerShark” four-cylinder unit, which will produce 184 horsepower and 177 pound feet of torque and will come paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Both versions will be available in either front-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive formats.

What will the fuel economy be like?

Detailed figures for the gas mileage haven’t yet been released, but it’s rumored that both versions will deliver more than 30 mpg on the highway, which would put it on a par with small crossovers like the Nissan Juke and the Kia Soul.

Will it have new features?

This vehicle will be positively bristling with safety features and will even be the automaker’s first offering to come with a collision warning system. In addition to all the safety features you would want, such as lane departure warning (another first for the carmaker known for off-road vehicles), blind spot monitoring and seven airbags, there will be plenty of infotainment and connectivity goodies, such as a Uconnect Access system that delivers 911 emergency services, a remote-access phone app and on-demand Wi-Fi hot-spot capability.

What will it cost?

There’s been no official word just yet, but some commentators are forecasting that prices will be similar to those of the Compass and will start at around $18,595.

When will it come out?

The ‘15 Renegade was originally expected to land in U.S. dealerships in early 2015. That still seems like a safe bet. Expect a release date for the 2016 edition at end of ‘15 or early ‘16.

Best competitors

Nissan Juke, Kia Soul, Subaru XV Crosstrek, Ford EcoSport, Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trax

What will make it stand out?

While the Fiat 500L that the Renegade is based upon may not be to everyone’s taste, it still finds considerable favor amongst many buyers all over the world. That cutesy, funky look does carry over in some regards to its cousin, but we think there will be a much greater mass appeal with the Renegade than the little Fiat would ever be able to muster, especially in the United States.

Quick hit

Although Jeep is largely renowned for making tough off-road-capable SUVs, there’s every reason to believe that its first venture into the world of the ultra-compact crossover will be a massive success. With the manufacturer claiming that the Renegade, despite its diminutive proportions, will have enough interior room to comfortably seat five people, it should be a resounding success.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]