It may attract somber looks and the odd scoff or two from jacked-up Wrangler drivers, but the Renegade occupies an important niche in the Jeep lineup. It’s the brand’s play on the white-hot compact CUV market, and one that — thankfully — doesn’t share familiarity with the departing Jeep Compass/Patriot. After the rolling dumpster fire of quality control that that was those two SUVs left a sour taste in many critics’ (and presumably buyers’) mouths, Jeep introduced the Renegade — a Fiat-based, Wrangler-styling-derived CUV that offers the same rugged Jeep look with none of the World War II-era handling characteristics.
The Renegade has proven to be a versatile platform. It can be had in two-wheel drive, with a Fiat-derived MultiAir 1.4 liter turbocharged four-banger (or a 2.4 liter Tigershark four-cylinder, also from Fiat, also MultiAir). You can choose from a row-your-own six-speed transmission, or a nine-speed automatic. Those options are consistent across the lineup.
However, you can also spec the Renegade up to $26,745 for the 4×4, trail-rated Trailhawk, which serves up the small CUV with a loaded menu of Jeep’s finest off-road accoutrements. For the price, you’ll be able to do much of what your average Wrangler driver does for much less and in a much smaller package. To further demonstrate the versatility of its smallest stablemate, Jeep is bringing two new editions to the Los Angeles Auto Show, which kicks off next week.
“These two new Jeep Renegade models help to extend our popular small SUV’s continued global success since its launch last year, and to provide customers with the choice of two distinctive and unique special editions,” said Mike Manley, head of the Jeep brand.
First — and most noteworthy — is the Deserthawk. The Deserthawk takes the existing Trailhawk model, but adds a special tow package and rock rails for further off-road credentials. It also boasts fully painted 17-inch black wheels and exclusive hood and rear body panel decals.
Deserthawk buyers will also be treated to an exclusive interior with black leather seats, “Light Frost” stitching and accents, all-weather floor mats, and a cargo tray mat. Of course, it’s what the Deserthawk is actually capable of that will sell units.
“The Jeep Renegade Deserthawk, like the Renegade Trailhawk, delivers best-in-class Trail Rated 4×4 capability with standard Jeep Active Drive Low with 20:1 crawl ratio;” Jeep said. “Selec-Terrain system with exclusive Rock mode; 8.7 inches of ground clearance; skid plates; signature red front and rear tow hooks; up to 8.1 inches of wheel articulation; Hill-descent Control; up to 19 inches of water fording; and up to 2,000 [pound] towing capacity,” it added.
Further, the Renegade Deserthawk comes standard with the 2.4-liter Tigershark engine and the aforementioned nine-speed automatic transmission. The cost? A sizable $28,140, making it one of the most expensive factory Renegades built yet.
If you’re less of a wilderness enthusiast and more attuned to cruising around the suburbs, the Renegade Altitude might be more your speed. Adding 18-inch Gloss Black wheels with Gloss Black accents around the exterior, including the front and rear badges, grille rings, and tail lamp rings, the Altitude will help your Renegade stand out from other Renegades, at least slightly.
You can get a variety of colors outside, but inside you can have your choice, as long as it’s black. There are black cloth seats and High Gloss Black finishes, with “Metal Diamond” accents found throughout on key touch points, like the shifter knob and door handles, Jeep says. The Altitude will start at a more-attainable $22,390 when it goes on sale later this month, and will be available with the Renegade’s full slate of engine and transmission options.
The Renegade has been a second coming for the Jeep brand. After struggling with quality control issues relentlessly on its lower-end offerings, the Renegade has helped dispel some of the damage done by the Compass and Patriot. The new Compass is slated to look like a winner too, taking its cues from the Grand Cherokee and leaving the Renegade to play its part as Wrangler junior.