Let me begin by stating very clearly that this piece isn’t about trash-talking the current Jeep Patriot and Compass. They are both great vehicles, and that is why they have sold so well for so long. However, they are not without their shortcomings, and those shortcomings are what “hardcore Jeep fans” use to put down these small, efficient SUVs. These folks insist that the Patriot and the Compass are Jeeps for people who really don’t need a Jeep, and that these models are not capable enough to deserve the Trail Rated badges.
Honestly, these vehicles aren’t as capable as say, the Wrangler or the XJ Cherokee, but the Chrysler Group didn’t set out to make a new, smaller Wrangler. They set out to make the Patriot and the Compass small, efficient and affordable sport utility vehicles that offered surefootedness in all types of weather. Are they the best off-road vehicles in the world? No, and Chrysler wouldn’t have you believe otherwise. Do many of the people who buy these models do so because they want to go conquer Moab? No. Are they as off-road capable as any other vehicle in their segment? Yes…and that is why they have proven to be so popular.
The people buying these vehicles don’t have the same expectations as someone buying a Jeep Wrangler, so while it may not be “Jeep enough” for some of the brand’s fans who are running around in 1970s and 1980s models, they did what they had to do to succeed in the segment.
The Renegade follows that same ideology, but the Jeep engineers worked to make this fun little SUV better than the Patriot in Compass in every way, so while it still won’t hang with the likes of the Wrangler in harsh conditions – it will handle off-roading better than any vehicle in that segment, while being far more comfortable off-road than are the Patriot and Compass.
The Renegade is a Great SUV
I have had the pleasure of driving the 2015 Jeep Renegade in a variety of trim lines, both on the road and on an off-road course. I have also driven the previous Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass in similar situations. The Renegade offers a far smoother ride, it handles better and it is quicker, making it all around more fun to drive. More importantly, for a vehicle that offers such a smooth ride on the road, it handles itself off-road very well. During off-road testing, I have run into some problems with low-hanging components of the Compass getting hung up on things like rocks and logs. You had to pick your path carefully, as the Compass didn’t move as well up a rocky slope and if you didn’t avoid the larger rocks, you were scraping up the undercarriage.
However, the Renegade was both more easily controlled when cutting through large rocks and there was less concern about large rocks getting caught up underneath the vehicle.
In addition to being able to climb over large objects, the Renegade can get through deeper water and even in very loose footing, the Hill Descent system affords you incredible control when coming down a very steep sand hill. The Compass wasn’t a bad off-road vehicle, but the Renegade truly is better in every way.
Add to the strong off-road capabilities and the impressive on-road ride quality the new removable roof system and the 2015 Jeep Renegade really is a vehicle that Wrangler fans should enjoy. It isn’t as rugged as the Wrangler, but it is less expensive and more efficient while still affording you a solid level of off-roading capabilities with a similar open-air feel to what you get with the tried and true Wrangler.
If you are in the market for a new small SUV, don’t listen to all of the negativity from those with no experience with the 2015 Renegade. This is one great little SUV that offers more Jeepability than any small model we have seen in the past.