To Italy and back for Jeep Renegade

 

Jeep Renegade is new small crossover model. (Bud Wells photos)

Jeep Renegade is new small crossover model. (Bud Wells photos)

It’s Italian-built with an all-American name and a nose like a Chinese pug.

The 2015 Jeep Renegade was waiting for us at Denver International Airport on our return from Seattle.

It is the newest model for the fast-growing Jeep brand, competing in the new subcompact crossover category against the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, Chevy Trax and Buick Encore.

It’s a near-twin of the Fiat 500X. Both the Renegade and 500X come off a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles assembly line in Melfi, Italy.

The Renegade’s upright front end.

The Renegade’s upright front end.

An optional 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine and 9-speed automatic transmission pushed the sticker price of the model I tested, the Renegade Latitude 4X4, to $26,980.

It wouldn’t be a Jeep without some form of four-wheel prowess and that came in the selec-terrain system, which dials capability in normal going, or in snow or sand or mud. It also offers 4WD Lock for adverse conditions. It is the most capable four-wheel-drive setup among the small crossover competitors.

The Jeep is also equipped with push-button start and remote start, backup camera, speed control, automatic headlamps and a 5-inch touchscreen display for audio, with Bluetooth voice command.

The Renegade delivered an average of 23.5 miles per gallon for my travels; it is EPA rated at 21/29.

Decent-sized cargo space of 18.5 cubic feet comes at the expense of rear-seat legroom, which is tight. There is no spare tire and the compact air canister and sealant kit leave storage space beneath the floor of the cargo area where the spare would have been.

Jeep’s been part of American four-wheeling for 75 years, as evidenced by the “Since 1941” script above  the display screen in the front dash.

The Jeep rides on Continental CrossContact 215/60R17 tires.