Words: Robert Nichols
Photography: Robert Nichols
Published: October 26, 2016
It all started in July of 1940 with the U.S. military announcing it wanted to replace its fleet of modified Ford Model-T’s and motorcycles with something new to be used as light reconnaissance vehicles. The military developed a list of specifications that had to be strictly adhered too.
The new vehicle had to have a 4-wheel drive system with a 2-speed transfer case, it had to be able to carry 600 lbs (272 kg), have a wheelbase less than 75 inches (1,905 mm), be no taller 36 inches (914 mm), have a rectangular body, be powered by an engine that ran smoothly between 3 – 50 mph (5-80 km/h), the windshield had to fold down, there had to be three bucket seats, blackout lights were required, and it had to be less than 1,300 lbs (590 kg).
Only two manufacturers answered the call at first; Willys Overland and American Bantam Car Manufacturing Company. Eventually Ford entered the race once they realised the potential of this government project was too lucrative to pass up. After months of testing offerings from each company the Willy’s MB Jeep won and the company became the military’s primary supplier; the rest as they say is history.
Jeep is celebrating its 75th year of building go-anywhere vehicles. As you might expect this sort of anniversary has brought with it a few special edition vehicles. I was given the opportunity to spend a week with a pea soup green Renegade. Officially the colour is named Jungle Green, but it was not until I drove it down an over grown tractor road that I realised it was the same colour as the foliage, perfect for a game of vehicular hide and seek. The full designation is the Jeep Renegade 75th Anniversary Special Edition 4X4, and that is the only time I will type it out completely.
The special Edition is nothing more than some badging and unique bits and pieces. The alterations include Bronze coloured roof rack, grille, fog light surround, and unique 18” aluminum wheels. There are also a few easter eggs to be found. SPOILER ALERT: one of which is the small Willy’s Jeep driving up the side of windshield, the rest I will leave for you to discover.
The original Jeep was designed and built in America and that has always been the case until recently. When Fiat and Chrysler became “FCA,” the door was opened for a new modus operandi. The Renegade, which is based largely on the Fiat 500X, is designed to some degree in the U.S. but the final assembly takes place in Melfi, Italy, which injects a little Italian flair into this American Icon.
One advantage gained by basing the Renegade on the Fiat platform was access to the MultiAir2 technology. My test vehicle was outfitted with the 2.4L Tigershark I-4 engine which uses the electro-hydraulic fully variable valve-lift system. Paired with the 9-speed automatic transmission this engine work smoothly but is never in hurry.
The addition of a full 4X4 system makes for more lethargic acceleration when compared to how this engine and tranny combination function in the Fiat 500X. The trade-off is real off-road ability even in non trail-rated models. Despite being limited by having road tires mounted, the Renegade climbed up some steep grass hills and muddy field accesses with no sign of struggling for grip. I can only guess that the trail rated versions equipped with off-road tires would be quite formidable trail machines.
Fuel consumption during my week was worse than expected, but I did spend a full day driving around fields in 4X4 mud mode. The official numbers are 11.2 city, 8.0 highway and 9.8 combined L/100 km. My weeks end average was 11.3 L/100km. If you were to drive the Renegade in an eco minded manner I think these estimates would be achievable, but where’s the fun in that.
The interior is pure Fiat with the lion’s share of the interior and switchgear coming from the 500X. The navigation and infotainment system works very quickly and has a simple setup with virtually no learning curve. The Beats premium audio system offers nice sound quality but is not the best in the business. The seating is comfortable but fitting four tall adults will be a bit tight for a long trip.
One feature that I quickly came to love was the Open Sky removable roof system. There are two available versions; one is power operated and the one I sampled requires very little effort and perhaps a stool to remove. The roof is divided into two light weight sections that lift off with a simple locking mechanism.
It takes two minutes to take it off or reinstall and even comes with a protective carrying case located in the cargo area. Roof off cruising with the windows down delivers much of the same joys of motorcycling with none of the drawbacks, like death and dismemberment.
Before any angry motorcycle enthusiasts write in, I feel I must inform you that I ride until it snows so my opinion is based on experience and not prejudice. That clarification made, you feel part of the environment fully experiencing the sights, sounds and odours (pleasant or otherwise) of nature.
I have two minor complaints with the Renegade. First, the thick A-pillars impede vision especially at intersections where pedestrians may be crossing. Second is the tailgate release button, which is located too closely to the lock and alarm arming button. While grocery shopping I would unlock the vehicle on approach then I would try to open the tailgate using the tailgate mounted button because there was no key fob option. At the same time my wife would be reaching for the passenger door handle. Inevitably I had mistakenly hit the wrong button as she pulled the door handle and the alarm went off. This happened at every stop in our grocery trip, and we made several.
On the road the Renegade rides like a truck with a solid weighty feel that is welcome in such a vehicle. The last thing you want is a flimsy feeling 4X4. The solidness does translate into some jiggling on rough sections of road but the larger hits seem to be absorbed and dispersed into thin air.
Off-road, the suspension does a great job keeping the wheels pressed into the earth and claw their way through anything a reasonable and average driver would ever attempt. The narrow body makes negotiating narrow paths a scratch-less affair and the short front and rear overhangs allow you to approach some very steep inclines. Owning a smaller SUV also brings the advantage of being able to manoeuvre easily in tight parking lots and find spots on crowded city streets.
The size doesn’t mean you have limited cargo space though. The cargo area is tall given the flat back design and with foldable rear seats, the list of possible cargo is endless. The rear hatch opens enough to prevent concussion for taller folk and the flat floor combined with a low lift height make loading easy. Overall the well-designed Renegade would be easy to live with whether your daily drive involves canyons or congested city streets.
The cost of ownership was more than I expected, given that a base model Renegade can be had for just over $20,000. The tester was equipped with every optional package available which added $11,000 or so to the price. I wanted to give you the options that I would and would not choose however, the way they are arranged makes it tricky.
I would need to have the Open Sky roof which is part of the $2,495 27F package which includes the Beats Audio that I would skip if possible. I would also purchase the full size spare mounted to a matching rim which is a relative bargain at just $295. There is no technology package which means you must opt for the $890 keyless entry system, that is a standalone option, Navigation is the same at $1,100, and rear cross traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring will cost you $890 as part of the Safety and Security group. You really need to figure out exactly what you need versus what you want when spec’ing one out if you are to have any chance at saving some coin.
The 2016 Jeep Renegade 75th Anniversary model is based on the North 4X4 model, which appears to come in some $4,000 cheaper when similarly equipped. What you need to decide is if having a unique colour and some special badging is worth the extra cost for you. Regardless of which way you end up going the Renegade is sure to please. It delivers on the Jeep reputation for go-anywhere fun while adding some of the award winning Fiat interior touches.
型号 Model: 2016 Jeep Renegade 75th Anniversary Edition 4X4
顏色 Paint Type: Jungle Green
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $28,995
試車售價 Price as Tested: $39,610
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,570
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,232 / 2,023 / 1,689
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,519
引擎 Engine: 2.4L Tigershark MultiAir2 inline-four
最大馬力 Horsepower: 180 hp @ 6,400 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 175 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4X4
前懸 Suspension-Front: Macpherson Strut with double shell lower control arms
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Chapman Strut with isolated rear cradle
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 9.7
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 215/60R17 Goodyear Eagle Sport