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In the early 80’s the dawn of change was upon the auto industry, the 70’s gas crisis was in the rear view mirror, Americans were buying big again, big houses, big clothes, and more importantly big cars. The average 80’s sedan was quite large, for example an 84 Chevy Caprice was almost 19 feet long. Nineteen feet! That’s nearly two first downs, or 2.5 Shaq’s, or 3 feet longer than a Grand Caravan, you get the point. So Jeep figured, and boy did they figure right that this was the prefect time to introduce the SUV. Now, you could argue that SUV’s have been around longer and that’s an argument I wouldn’t discredit. Government Purposes or General Purposes vehicle was introduced in 1941, of course the soldiers had no time to waste so they shortened the official name to Jeep, which came from GPGP and that’s where everything began. However, the SUV as we know it by today standards was born with the introduction of the 1984 Jeep Wagoner, it had 4 proper doors, a luxurious interior, and fantastic styling. It made the idea of taking your family on a comfortable adventure a possibility, people loved it, and it sold like mad. So it’s only fitting that it’s the patriarch of the SUV kingdom that revolutionizes the SUV segment yet again.

1989 Jeep Grand Wagoneer; Based on the Jeep SJ platform, Jeep Wa

 2015 Jeep Renegade

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Jeeps newest entry in the brand is one of its most important. The compact SUV segment is quickly growing in popularity, and in order to survive and remain relevant Jeep gives us its take on what a compact SUV should be like with its Renegade. This segment was dominated by the beautifully hideous Nissan Juke for quite some time, only a few years later we have entries from KIA, Honda, Chevy and Buick, so you bet that Jeep wanted a piece of this pie as well. But, before you point out cars like the Suzuki Samurai and claim it started the whole thing, think of this. All the models here are front wheel drive, and are much easier to live with then the said Suzuki. So let’s take a look this mighty mini Jeep and figure out why there is so much fuss.

Styling

The thing looks brilliant. The styling is instantly recognizable; you can tell right away it’s a Jeep from the grille and the round headlights. If not, Jeep left numerous tiny clues, little emblems like the one in the tail lights and wheel that pay homage to the granddaddy. The box like stance and the straight edge corners give it a tough appearance even though its only 166 inches long. The thing that differs the Jeep from any of its competitors is that its appearance oozes character, it looks tough, and acts tough yet it’s in adorable way like a small ambitious pup, and who doesn’t like puppies?

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Drivetrain

Another strong point of this little guy are the engine and the transmission choices. Jeep will offer a choice of two, four-cylinder engines: the Italian turbocharged 1.4-liter rated at 160 horsepower or the new Tigershark, non-turbo 2.4-liter good for 184 hp. The smaller engine comes with only a six-speed manual transmission, while the 2.4-liter pairs with a nine-speed automatic, similar to that on the Jeep Cherokee. How awesome is that? Not only is there a manual option you can also get a 9 speed automatic! which is the first in this class. Where the Renagade really shines is with the chassis options. Base models will be front-wheel drive, but full-time 4×4 (“Jeep Active Drive”) will be available on all models. A rear axle that disconnects when not needed for traction promises improved fuel economy. The range-topping Trailhawk edition is built to endure serious off-road duty, featuring a taller ride height and clearance, 17-inch wheels, hill descent control and a 4WD system with lower gearing designed for slow scrambling up steep surfaces. In addition all 4WD models offer Selec-Terrain dynamic modes that optimize traction for snow, sand, mud and, on the Trailhawk, rock crawling. What that means is for under $25k you will get a true off roading star, allowing you to keep up with the Wranglers when the trail gets icky.

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Competition

The closest competitor of the Renegade would be the Chevy Trax, all things considered. However the video shows the comparisons of the Juke, Soul, and Encore and although the Subaru Crosstrek would’ve made a suitable competitor Jeep chose to omit it, probably because it’s considered a hatchback more than SUV. Nonetheless the competition doesn’t even come close to the Renegade, yea the Buick might be quieter and the Juke might handle a corner with more sportiness, but no other entry can offer it all together in a better package. The price, off-road capability, room and versatility make this latest Jeep a clear winner, and you’ll be able to enjoy the top of the hill much longer, because, no other manufacturer is even planning to take it on.

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To wrap things lets take it back again to the 80’s. Like then Jeep is blazing a trail right down the middle of the immensely popular SUV segment, and it’s doing so with its adorably tough Renagade. It offers something for everyone in a fun and affordable package. Anyone who is in the market for a small, safe and competent vehicle look no further. Just keep in mind that unfortunately this time the wood paneling isn’t available.

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