For two years, Fiat maintained that there would be a Jeep platform-mate to the upcoming Fiat 500X 4X4, but the company was tight-lipped about exactly what shape it would take. Now we know. Jeep has unveiled complete details of the 2015 Renegade at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.
The international-market Renegade shares its "small-wide" architecture with the Fiat 500L, and if you squint, you can see where it shares hard points. It's substantially revised in the Jeep, most obviously for greater ride height.
There's also a choice of open roofs, either a power retractable unit or manual lift-out panel like the Jeep Wrangler offers. A wide lineup of engine and transmission choices will be offered internationally, but in the US we'll get either a 160-hp 1.4-liter MultiAir turbo or 184-hp 2.4-liter Tigershark. Both can be equipped with Chrysler's 948TE nine-speed transmission. Opting for the 1.4-liter lets you select the C635 six-speed manual gearbox if you want to row your own. Prepare your angry missives to Auburn Hills: Europe's small diesels won't come stateside in the Renegade.
Where the Renegade differentiates itself from the vehicles it's derived from is its heavy emphasis on off-road capability. Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk are the three available trim lines, with four-wheel drive and a new Active Drive system optional on base models. Active Drive, a torque-vectoring AWD setup, also features PTO-based rear-axle disconnect for fuel economy. A step-up Active Drive Low option gets you a 20:1 crawl ratio, and both have Jeep Selec-Terrain, including Mud and Rock modes.
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The Renegade Trailhawk, however, brings standard Active Drive Low with hill-descent control, 8.7 inches of ground clearance (the same as a Subaru XV Crosstrek), 8.1 inches of wheel articulation, front skid plates, tow hooks, shaved front and rear fascias for improved takeoff and departure angles, and 215/65R17 all-terrain tires.
Inside, there's Uconnect with a seven-inch screen and four different interior treatments. If the Jeep Renegade lives up to its promise, this will be the first off-roader smaller than a Wrangler sold in America since the Suzuki Samurai. We can't wait to kick its little ass where the pavement ends and the going gets interesting.