AUBURN HILLS, Mich.—Jeep hopes it has reached the apogee where efficiency meets adventure, unveiling its first ever foray into the small sport utility segment with its tiny new Renegade.
Borrowing its name from a Wrangler model from the early 1990s, the Renegade doesn’t share the traditional Jeep aesthetics, looking more like a Fiat on stilts than an off-road icon.
But Jeep said the Renegade does share the brand’s bloodlines, offering off-road capability in a road-worthy package.
Working off the all-new Cherokee’s drivetrain, the Renegade offers full-time four-wheel drive—including a 20:1 “crawl” gear ratio in Trailhawk trim—and a disconnecting rear axle to help improve on-road fuel efficiency.
That off-road capability only continues in the top-of-the-line Trailhawk, with an increased ride height of 8.7 inches, underbody skid plates, 19 inches of water fording ability and special bumpers that offer better approach and departure angles.
The Renegade’s homage to its big brother Wrangler doesn’t stop with just a name: The little SUV also offers a removable top that gives it some of the open-air feel that helped elevate the classic Jeep model to cult-like status.
Jeep’s new My Sky roof systems give the option of both manual or power removable roof panels for an open-top look.
Under the hood, Jeep plans to use its MultiAir gas and MultiJet II diesel engines, though don’t expect a diesel option to hit the North American market.
The Renegade will also be available with a nine-speed automatic transmission.
While no fuel economy numbers have been released, the larger Cherokee gets an estimated 9.6L/100 km city and 6.4L/100 km highway when equipped with the 2.4-litre four-cylinder MultiAir engine.
The tiny SUV will be built at Fiat S.p.A.’s Melfi assembly plant in Italy.
No release date has been announced by the automaker.