Review: Renegade screams its Jeep-ness
If youve ever bemoaned the fact that a lot of cars look the same these days, peek into the subcompact CUV segment for a little respite. No one is going to accuse the Nissan Juke, Kia Soul, Mini Countryman or Mazda CX-3 of styling thats too safe. Nor this 2015 Renegade North 4x2 the smallest, funkiest and newest member of the Jeep family. All upright and cubist, this Renegade North screams Jeep-ness from every crease and corner. Call it corny, campy or cute. Just dont call it dull. Especially when painted in Omaha Orange. Previously, Id driven a fully-loaded go-anywhere Renegade Trailhawk with a sticker close to 40 grand, so it was refreshing to sample this version that lives at the other end of the price spectrum. Starting at $25,995 the front-drive six-speed manual North might not be the cheapest Renegade, but its probably the one you want, as the base Sport ($20,495) lacks such North niceties as air conditioning, cruise control, heated and powered mirrors, alloy wheels, USB connectivity, satellite radio, leather-wrapped steering wheel, roof rails, fog lights, tinted windows and the Uconnect infotainment system with hands-free control. The Renegades six-speed manual transmission is paired only with a 160 horsepower 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo four. If you want an automatic transmission, prepare to spend $2,290 for the nine-speed auto that comes with a 184 horsepower 2.4-litre naturally-aspirated Tigershark four. Add $1,500 for all-wheel-drive in either configuration. This fairly basic Renegade North proves to be a nice entry point into the world of Jeep. Yes, its built in Italy on a Fiat platform, and with only front drive you wont be doing any real off-roading, but we wont tell. You sit tall and upright in the comfortable fabric seats and outward visibility is good, although the massive A-pillars are an issue at times. The interior decor is chunky in that Jeep way with body-coloured accents and a big passenger grab handle on the dash for jumping curbs or dodging shopping carts at Costco. Jeep has placed what they call Easter Eggs in the cabin a semi-hidden stylized rendering of the classic seven-slat grille with round headlights stamped into various bits. Since 1941 is embossed on the dash, reassuring you of this little tykes heritage. The six-speaker audio sound is decent and the 5-inch Uconnect interface is easy to negotiate. Back seat room is fine for two adults and there is generous cargo room behind, although youll find more in the Subaru Crosstrek and Honda HR-V. While Jeep probably wont, um, shift a lot of stick-shift Renegades, this engine-tranny combo is quite nice. The 1.4-litre MutiAir is smoother than the bigger 2.4-litre Tigershark unit, and the linear clutch works well with the positive long-throw shifter. Just dont be in too much of a hurry. This spunky little 1.4 that turns the Fiat 500 Abarth into such a hellion is up against 1,381 kilograms here, so progress is best defined as steady and earnest. That said, the Renegade sure feels substantial. It has a rock-solid structure and the chassis is well sorted, providing surprisingly balanced handling and a decent ride on these 16-inch alloys with relatively high profile tires. The steering had a numb spot on-centre, but otherwise is nicely weighted and accurate. Its an easy car for inner-city scooting and settles into a quiet cruise on the highway. Youll be wanting the $695 Cold Weather Group that adds front and rear floor mats, heated front seats, windshield wiper de-icer and a blessed heated steering wheel that in my opinion is the best automotive gift to come along since, oh ... the electric starter motor. The tester also had a $450 rear backup camera. Including the destination charge, this charming shift-your-own Renegade kisses $30,000. So, while it might be one of the most basic models, its hardly a screaming deal. It all hinges on how badly you want a slice of the Jeep ethos.Peter Bleakney is aregular contributor to Toronto Star Wheels. The vehicletested was provided by the manufacturer.For more Toronto Star automotive coverage, go to thestar.com/autos . To reach Wheels Editor Norris McDonald: firstname.lastname@example.org 2015 Jeep Renegade North 4x2 manualBASE PRICE/AS TESTED: $25,995/$27,585ADD-ONS: Destination charge $1,745PROPULSION: Front engine, front driveTOW RATING: Not recommendedENGINE: 1.4L turbocharged MuliAir fourTRANSMISSION: Six-speed manualPOWER/TORQUE: 160 hp, 184 lb-ft.FUEL CONSUMPTION (L/100 km): 9.9 city, 7.5 hwy. TIRES: All season P215/65R16STANDARD FEATURES: Air conditioning, cruise control, heated and powered mirrors, alloy wheels, USB, satellite radio, leather wrapped steering wheel, roof rails, fog lights, tinted windows, Uconnect 5.0-inch screen with hands free and six speakersWHATS HOT: funky looks, solid build, good road mannersWHATS NOT: a tad slow, a tad priceyWHATS INTERESTING: Shares platform with Fiat 500X crossoverMANUFACTURERS WEBSITE:www.jeep.caLOOKS: No mistaking the Renegade for anything but a Jeep. Sure, it looks likes your five-year-old drew it, but your kids a genius, right? This Omaha Orange specimen http://asian-free-tranny-cams.blogtur.com - asian free tranny cams - received plenty of stares. Look for the Jeep grill icon embossed into the tail light lenses.INTERIOR: Build quality is quite good, and styling is spot on. Gauges are clear, and I found the Uconnect interface pretty easy to use.PERFORMANCE: This front-drive North with six-speed stick is a pleasant runabout. You wont win any drag races, but the engine and all controls are smooth. Has a fun, elemental feel.TECHNOLOGY: Pretty basic stuff here. No fancy driver aids or the latest in connectivity.