Okay, I get it. I’m getting too old; I’m out of the demographic. The only things advertisers want me to see have to do with prescription medications I should ask my doctor about. They can lower my cholesterol, keep my diabetes under control (every old person has that don’t they?) and most annoyingly help “Skippy” get up and do a war dance (just as long as I call a doctor if it lasts longer than four hours).
It’s all about the Millennial, the Hipster, the urban dwellers with their coiffed oiled beards and skinny lattes. Electric, hybrids, save the planet, that’s what it’s all about. And small, compact, easy to drive in the city. I had an example of this new type of vehicle recently; a plug in from a luxury brand. And it was downright awful. It had a range of about 150 miles if you could charge it, which I couldn’t, and while it did have a gas engine, the tank was so tiny you would be lucky to get 70 miles from an entire tank; an entire tank; 70 miles. An all-day charge on a regular socket yielded 33 miles. Should you want to find a quick charger (which I most assuredly did not), it meant an hour of your time, at least. There was no charging station near my office, so it never received a full charge. All of this nonsense for a price tag just over $50,000. Unbelievable. I told the manufacturer, who shall remain anonymous, that my mother told me that if you can’t say (or write), anything nice, don’t do it at all.
The point is that the trend nowadays is to go smaller, more compact, more “eco-friendly”. Leaving us of the older generation out in the cold.
There is some hope however.
Jeep has always been somewhat of an outsider; the stepchild. They suffered for a time due to this. As the market collapsed and vehicles shrunk, the once mighty Jeep began to fall by the wayside. After all, the younger generation wanted smaller, “cuter”, tiny footprints. And off road? Seriously? The only time that happens is when a Millennial has to park in a grass field for an Electric Daisy Carnival.
Jeep has made a comeback though. The Cherokee is a player in the SUV market, and the Wrangler has adapted and can be seen on occasion.
The FCA brand has also downsized to though. The Patriot was the first entry into the crossover market in 2006. It will be discontinued after this year leaving only the newer Renegade and its smaller cousin the Compass. I had a week with the first model Renegade, a 2015, a couple of years ago, and to be honest I was not all that impressed.
However, Jeep sent me a 2017 for a recent week. It’s updated a bit, had a bigger engine, something that was lacking in the 2015, and more importantly four-wheel drive, which was also missing from the 2015 model.
The Renegade is Jeep’s entry into the subcompact SUV crossover market. It’s small, but not uncomfortably so. It’s designed to carry five passengers and has four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk.
There’s also an Altitude variant based off the Latitude trim, and the model I had for the week. The Latitude has foglights, automatic headlights, body-colored door handles and mirrors, ambient LED lighting, a fold-flat front passenger seat and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Other equipment for the Latitude includes a rearview camera, the Uconnect control interface with 5-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice commands, an additional USB port and a six-speaker audio system.
The Altitude package has blacked out accents with 18-inch Gloss Black wheels. Inside there’s a black interior, black premium cloth seats and High Gloss Black finishes. Metal Diamond accents are found throughout on key touch points, such as the shifter knob and door handles.
There were several differences from the 2015 and 2017. The 2015 model I had was the base Sport version. It was okay, but didn’t have many of the features found in the 2017 Latitude. This go around I had the nav, forward collision avoidance, blind spot monitoring, rear view camera, and the My Sky sunroofs, which can be opened by power or are manually removable.
The outside still looked basically the same with the vertical-duct, Wrangler-style grille, but the black accents and higher 18-inch wheels looked more at home. Inside the cabin is still comfortable and hints that this is a Jeep are everywhere. I still liked the layout and the lack of any sort of fancy controllers, just functional and well-placed knobs with the center being the Unconnect touch screen.
The biggest difference however came on the road.
My 2015 had the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine with a six-speed manual transmission, delivering 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. The 2017 got the 2.4-liter Tigershark engine with MultiAir2 paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission delivering 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. There was also the on demand 4-wheel drive leaving little doubt the 2017 Renegade can go off road if needed.
The drive was good, the view as well. The extra horses made a difference, and overall this week with the 2017 was worlds apart from the 2015.
Yes, it’s small, but that’s the way of the world. Hopefully those youngsters looking at a Crosstrek, HR-V, Trax, Juke, or CX-3 will give this little Renegade a try. Maybe the hipsters will get out of the coffee shops and do a little off roading, something a few of the others in this class could never do.
So, I’m out of the demographic. I get that. But the Jeep Renegade proves that despite my age, there are still vehicles I find appealing. Now let me go drag my bathtub to a hill somewhere, just as long as it doesn’t take longer than four hours.
For more including pics and specs read the full review here.