Monday, 16 May 2022

Perky little upstart can go just about anywhere

MY second foray into the world of the Jeep has proved to be as surprisingly impressive

MY second foray into the world of the Jeep has proved to be as surprisingly impressive as the first.

A short while ago I wrote about the redoubtable new Jeep Cherokee. I said it was “powerful and sophisticated with old fashioned virtues”.

By comparison you might think that its little brother, the Jeep Renegade, would come over as a bit of an upstart.

The test car that arrived on my doorstep was certainly no shrinking violet. Its vibrant livery sometimes struck me as a bit Donovan (Mellow Yellow).

At other times I felt I could have stuck a red nose on the front of the Renegade and set off for the circus.

The truth is this perky, small SUV (sports utility vehicle) is a cracking little performer and willing (and able) to go just about anywhere.

Indeed, the Jeep Renegade has even been white-water rafting. I kid you not. A Renegade was driven through an Olympic-standard white-water course at the Cardiff International White Water Centre.

While you might not have any desire to indulge in extreme sporting actitivities in your Jeep, the Renegade does have the ability to get stuck in on the toughest of surfaces.

It is the first small SUV to feature a nine-speed automatic gearbox. There are also five- and six-speed manual gearboxes available as options (the test car was manual which was smooth to operate).

Featured with two- or four-wheel drive the Renegade has two advanced 4x4 systems: Jeep Active Drive and Jeep Active Drive Low.

These systems supply the proper amount of torque (pulling power) for “any driving situation”, says Jeep, ensuring “enhanced safety even in the slipperiest conditions”.

To achieve this the rear-axle disconnect system switches between two- and four-wheel-drive to guarantee traction but reduce the energy required and therefore fuel consumption when 4x4 capability isn’t needed.

The more I drove the Renegade, the more I liked it. The engine — there are six powertrain combinations available — was more than willing to perform whether on challenging terrain or smooth motorway surfaces.

The test car also had a rather wonderful, full-length sunroof and blind. This would be a great asset while touring in the Renegade, which I would highly recommend.

As well as the Renegade being Jeep’s first entry into the small SUV segment, it is also the first Fiat Chrysler Automobiles model to be jointly developed by Italian and American engineers.

And there’s another first: this is the first Jeep to be built in Europe but sold in the United States from whence the brand originated as a wartime vehicle. The origin of the name Jeep’s is uncertain yet intriguing. Some say it came from the slurring of the letters GP, the military abbreviation for General Purpose. Others say the Jeep was named after a character, Eugene the Jeep, featured in the popular Popeye cartoon strip.

Whatever its origin, the Jeep proved a huge success with more than half-a-million of the dour, olive-green vehicles built for action in all theatres of the Second World War.

The Jeep Renegade is available in 11 colours with six wheel designs. There are two MultiAir II petrol engines, a pair of MultiJet II turbo diesels and the 1.6-litre eTorque petrol. The range has four trim levels: Sport, Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk.

The Longitude I was driving includes car equipment such as standard cruise control, ambient LED lighting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and satellite navigation as well as 17-inch aluminium wheels.

The Limited tops the range for high tech equipment. It has 18-inch aluminium wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats and steering wheel, leather upholstery, seven-inch colour Thin Film Technology (TFT) Electronic Vehicle Information Centre, 6.5-inch Uconnect touchscreen with sat nav and Bluetooth. There is also privacy glass, rear parking sensors and silver side roof rails, door mirrors and front grille.

The Renegade’s Uconnect system provides an interface between occupants and communication, entertainment and navigation touchscreen and even voice control.

Uconnect comes in two versions, each with its own size of screen: Uconnect 5.0 with a five-inch screen is in Sport and Longitude models.

Jeep is not shy about offering all-comers a shot at owning a Renegade to suit their personality.

If you are so inclined, the moody Night Eagle version, based on the Longitude mid-range level, added in features such as unique 17-inch black alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, satin grey Jeep badges and unique Night Eagle badge, coloured roof bars and side mirrors, and satin grey grille rings on a black front grille.

As I say, something for everyone. And the Jeep Renegade is a very good drive to boot.

Renegade prices start at £17,495

Longitude features include:

• 17in aluminium wheels

• Six-speaker audio system

• Black side roof rails

• Body colour door mirrors and handles

• Cruise control

• Driver seat with electric lumbar adjustment

• Electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors

• Front fog lamps

• Leather-wrapped steering wheel

• Uconnect 5in DAB radio with touchscreen, satellite navigation and Bluetooth

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