Ringing in the new year with the outgoing 2015 Jeep Renegade.
By definition, renegades are dissenters and that’s how we feel as New York City empties out and we hunker down here. Why leave the best city in the world when you can have an adventure at home, with a sporty compact SUV to boot?
The week before Christmas and New Year’s is the time in NYC that you can pull up in front of a restaurant and park legally, discover new neighborhoods, and zip through tunnels and over bridges – as long as you don’t make the rookies mistake of, say, trying to get near Times Square when the ball is dropping. We had just two of our three kids home for the holidays, plus our dog, so the compact Jeep Renegade was the perfect ride for us.
No limits with the Renegade Limited 4 X 4
We didn’t go off-roading in the Jeep, though it is designed to do so. But giant pot holes, cobblestone streets and generally poor road conditions around the city did not faze this vehicle, which smoothly ferried us over hill and dale, or at lest borough to borough. We hit the burgeoning Chinatown in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, rolled through the holiday lights in Dyker Heights, walked on the wind swept beach in Queens and checked out the Meatpacking District in Manhattan. Carrie Bradshaw would have been proud – I ditched the sensible shoes since it was so easy to park everywhere.
Technology helps, too
Not only was parking made easy by light traffic, but the rear park assist made parallel parking a snap. The sonar system lets you keno when you are close to another vehicle, and the colored grids on the back up camera provide additional visual support.
The Renegade also had Keyless Go, an option on the remote keyless access that adds starting the car from 200 feet away. It’s fun to do this in a parking lot and surprise the people walking by, but it’s most useful for starting the car and letting it warm up a bit before getting in.
Safety technology included optional blind spot and cross path detection, lane departure warning and forward collision alert. Front fog lamps corner so you can see your way on country roads.
Winter finally came to NYC, but we stayed toasty in the Jeep, with heated seats and a heated steering wheel. We were unable to try out the MySky removable panels that let you enjoy the outdoors too – in both front and back sets, you have not just a clear view of the sky but the feeling of being outside – with this option. You can also just retract the roof panels to let light splash in.
The Jeep has a WiFi hotspot but only a tiny storage area between the front seats; you can’t fit an iPad or a pocketbook (maybe you are only supposed to carry a Swii Army knife?).
Keeping everyone happy
Despite its smaller than usually footprint, this Jeep had ample room in the back seat for three full grown passengers, with leg room to spare. We loaded up the trunk when we took our daughter to the airport to return to college and her 3 huge bags fit easily. If you are transporting more, the Jeep has a 40/20/40 split rear seat with trunk pass through, roof rails so you can load stuff up top.
There is one USB port in front, plus a cigarette plug; in the small storage area, there is a second USB port, plus a household plug in the rear.
Forget all that – how did the Jeep look?
The tiny black exterior empathized Jeep’s rugged appeal but what attracted me and the friends and family who drifted in and out of the Jeep over the course of a week was the cool contrasting trim. The Jeep had a cream leather interior, with orange accents that really set off the light color. The orange was in the cupholders, in the stitching on the steering wheel, on the seats and the gear shift. It gave the Jeep a fun, sporty look.
Where Jeep needs to improve
We found it very difficult to input addressed manually with the navigation system; the touchscreen was sluggish and even laboriously typing in B-r-o-o-k-l-y did not bring up “Brooklyn” as an option. Finger taps did not always register and we were very frustrated. The voice command, accessed via the steering wheels, was worse; when we would try to “find an address” we were asked if we wanted to make a phone call and if you didn’t ask in the exact correct way, you had to quit the system, then start all over again. My helpful daughters kept sarcastically pointing out that we knew where we were going anyway, but we wanted to see how the nav worked.
What we loved
- WiFi hotspot
- Heated seats and steering wheel
- MySky removable panels – I will have to test this vehicle in the warmer weather!
- A household plug, plus 2 USB ports
What you need to know
- Base price: $26,785; price for the model we drove, with advanced tech features, navigation system, removable roof panels, keyless Go and special wheels, $33,280
- Fuel economy: 29 mpg on the highway, 21 in the city, for 24 mpg combines
- Takes regular gasoline
- Nowhere to put a purse larger than a wallet
- 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty
- 5 year/100,000 mile power train warranty
Note: FCA provided the 2015 Jeep Renegade for our test drive; opinions expressed are my own.