Cute, rugged Renegade expands Jeep39s lineup

24 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

2015 Jeep Renegade Gets Priced, Will Cost $18,990 and Up.

The all-new Jeep Renegade offers at least 30 miles per gallon on the highway with off-road capability at a price starting under $20,000 just as sales of compact SUVs are rising in the U.S.Global deliveries at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV rose 7.3 percent to 4.75 million vehicles in 2014, according to Bloomberg News calculation on company’s figure, as Maserati more than doubled deliveries and Jeep topped 1 million SUVs.That’s the number of Jeep-branded vehicles sold globally in 2014, an eye-opening total that stands in contrast to 337,716, the total number of Jeeps sold worldwide by the former Chrysler Group LLC when it filed for bankruptcy in 2009.SAN FRANCISCO — FCA US dealers were told to anticipate as much as 10 percent growth in their retail sales in 2015 as incremental deliveries from new vehicles such as the Jeep Renegade, Ram ProMaster City and Fiat 500X help extend the automaker’s 57-month sales streak.

Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg U.S. car-buyers’ thirst for Ram trucks and Jeep sport-utility vehicles sent Fiat Chryslerâs (FCA) sales up faster than those of the biggest three carmakers last year, an early positive sign for Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne’s ambitious five-year growth plan. The subcompact SUV was designed in Auburn Hills but is made in Melfi, Italy.(Photo: Brent Snavely Detroit Free Press)Buy Photo The Renegade, the smallest Jeep to be produced in modern times, can be thought of as a youngster among the off-road brand’s SUV lineup, even though it is more than able to tackle some of the toughest off-road courses. A key strategic element of FCA’s push to reach the front ranks of the global auto business is its expansion of Jeep, a brand known from Rio de Janeiro to Shanghai that had underperformed relative to its potential under previous Chrysler managements. On its way to dealers now, the Renegade will cost anywhere from $17,995 for a front-wheel drive sport model to $26,795 for a Renegade Limited with four-wheel drive when they go on sale in March. “If you think about a Labrador puppy, what makes that dog so cute is all of the features are a little bit exaggerated. The gain beats No. 1 Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s 3 percent increase to 10.23 million cars, the 4.2 percent jump at second-place Volkswagen AG (VOW) and the 2.1 percent increase at General Motors Co. (GM:US), the third-biggest carmaker.

The U.S. market, which accounts for more than half of Fiat Chrysler’s sales, and the new Jeep Renegade’s performance in China and South America will help determine whether the company posts another increase this year, said Richard Hilgert, an analyst in Chicago at Morningstar Inc. “It becomes more difficult” to sustain growth after the 2014 gain, Hilgert said, though an increase in sales volume is still possible. “The company’s year-over-year comparisons will be a high hurdle to clear.” The carmaker is aiming to sell more than 5 million cars this year, Marchionne said on Jan. 12 in Detroit. In the back, the Renegade has a rear overhang that Allen describes as a backwards baseball cap and rear headlights that include a design that borrows from the WWII gas can that was used in the original 1940s Willys models. Fleet deliveries remained below 20 percent of all sales for most of 2014, although a final fleet share won’t be disclosed until the automaker reports fourth-quarter and 2014 earnings on Feb. 3.

Existing competition includes the Nissan Juke, Mini Countryman, and Subaru XV Crosstrek, but several more junior-size crossovers are jumping on this wave: the Chevrolet Trax, a cousin of the more upscale Buick Encore; the Honda HR-V, derived from the Honda Fit; and the Mazda CX-3, based on the Mazda 2. In the U.S. the category has broken from the larger compact crossover segment that includes slightly larger models like the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 – a two million-unit segment that grew 14.5 percent last year in a market that was up about six percent. Fiat Chrysler executives also suggested that the recently refreshed lineup of L-body cars — the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans as well as the Dodge Challenger — should help those vehicles’ sales as well. “The dealers are pretty happy with the way things are going,” said Harry Larson, of Larson Motors in Nebraska City, Neb.

Jeff Schuster, senior vice president for forecasting for LMC Automotive told USA Today that Renegade “provides a lift to the brand.” Last year, Jeep’s new midsize crossover sold 178,508 units, almost as many as the slightly larger Grand Cherokee. You can choose from four distinct trim levels: the base Sport, intermediate Latitude, and two loaded top-tick versions, Limited and Trailhawk, the latter posing as the off-road guardian of Jeep heritage. The new model looks and feels like a Jeep, with its characteristic seven-slotted grill, dating to 1941 when Ford was making military versions for use by American soldiers in World War II. Most buyers will choose an all-wheel-drive, mid-trim Latitude, powered by the larger of the two engines, a 184-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder, served by a nine-speed automatic. Funny thing about that nine-speed gearbox, which, in the last year, we’ve experienced in a couple of Cherokees: Try as you might, you almost never find yourself in the final gear.

Pricing starts at $19,995 plus shipping for a stripped-down all-wheel-drive model, but you’ll pay somewhere between $25,000 and $29,000 for a decently equipped version. Styling consciously evokes echoes of the iconic Wrangler: small, square, and upright, with round headlights, a seven-slat grille opening, and a Wrangler-esque removable two-panel plastic sunroof. The up-level Trailhawk, which has tons of electronics to govern its various rough-country driving modes, was a bit noisier than the others on pavement, thanks to its 17-inch all-terrain tires. Although the doorsills are a bit high, getting in and out posed no special problems, and the front cabin offers plenty of headroom and legroom, with abundant fore-and-aft seat adjustment. From the outside it looks like the fat rear roof pillars would seriously impede the view out, but from the driver’s seat visibility turned out to be pretty good.

A driving-mode selector knob has settings for auto, snow, sand, mud, and rock, which summon up powertrain electronics to adjust transmission shift points and throttle settings. Available safety gear includes a raft of high-tech crash-avoidance technologies, including forward-collision warning with full autobrake capability, and lane-departure warning and assist systems.

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