By Design: Jeep Renegade

#Jeep, #Jeep

I’ll state it plainly: I know what a Jeep looks like, I know what a Jeep can do, and why so many people love them. And this 2015 Jeep Renegade isn’t an acceptable substitute for the real thing. There was a World War II military Jeep in our family fleet in the early 1950s, and we sold our last World War II Willys just a few years ago, a collector’s item that brought a substantial return on investment, especially when compared to the original cost in 1943. I’ve seen Jeeps and Jeep derivatives since I was a small boy, and if some of them struck me as inane and unnecessary—Jeepster, anyone?—almost all of them remain true to the ethos of the creators of the GP light military vehicle at American Austin. But, as I said in the blurb, this is not a real Jeep. Oh, I believe that the 2015 Jeep Renegade can negotiate the Rubicon; that it’s not just a suburban signifier intended more to impress at the supermarket than to tackle arduous trails. But the forms are antithetical to the essence of “Jeepness.”

Jeeps were essentially made of sheet stock, cut out and left flat or wrapped in a single curve—see the hood of an original. In no way should a Jeep be made of compound-curved sheetmetal tortured into complex pudginess, as we see around the taillights on this misconceived—for a Jeep—little SUV. I have said in the past that Dick Teague’s 1984 XJ Cherokee is one of the great designs of all time, because it was completely innovative in conception, but also because it looked like a Jeep, respecting the original sense of being a tin box with no affectation. Despite the fact that every square inch of its surface was stamped into subtle compound curves, the XJ’s form expressed the sense of a square-cornered box, not the rounded bar of soap that box might have contained. Flat stock tends to “oil can,” that is, vibrate noisily. So it is usual to give a little crown to flat panels, and the best way to do that is to stamp the metal in a press, joining adjacent sections through flanges at the edge. Fiat did exactly that with the Giugiaro-designed Panda, a hugely successful design that, like the Cherokee, was just a slightly modulated box. That it stayed in production for a third of a century and more than 10 million units shows the validity of the concept.

Looking at this 2015 Jeep Renegade you’d have to say “not bad,” except for the seven-bar inlet that is supposed to make us say “Jeep.” Instead, it looks like some misbegotten Chinese knockoff with too much surface complexity. Change the grille and call the car a Dodge or a Fiat, and no one would object. It’s overstyled, certainly, but it makes a credible “Cute Ute,” one with unsuspected capability off-road. But call it a Jeep and it’s evident that the design team didn’t know what it was doing.

Jeep Renegade Front 3/4 View

1. Remove everything within this vaguely hexagonal perimeter, and there’s nothing really Jeep-like about this exterior. Many do squared-off wheel openings now.

2. Complex-surface stamped “power bump”? What’s Jeep about that?

3. Nice windshield, much too rounded at its corners for a true Jeep feel.

4. A sharp-edged transition from top to side, but sides are too convoluted.

5. Flat roof could be appropriate, but the color band above the side windows is another expression of styling, not functionality.

6. Roof rack rails are intended to imply ruggedness, but are rather delicate in appearance for a Jeep.

7. This general area, with too much complex surfacing, makes the whole seem like a plastic toy.

8. This bulge and the negative volume below further enhance the toylike impression of the overall form.

9. Plastic protection strips at the bottom of the doors is a sound idea, but again the forms are too convoluted—for a Jeep.

10. This flat band around the wheel opening emphasizes the less-than-convincing squared-up wheel openings.

Jeep Renegade Rear 3/4 View

11. Tapering B-pillar is rather nice, but lacks the straightforward matter-of-factness that is the essence of Jeep design.

12. You can see clearly that not much visibility is granted by the rear quarter windows. Why bother?

13. For decades, Jeep Wranglers, CJs and other convincing models used square aftermarket-available add-on rear lamps. These not-quite-parallel piped pieces attempt to evoke them, but they’re about style, not practicality.

14. This sagging hard line separates positive and negative surfaces, leaving a graphic mess above and below.

15. At last, something appropriately Jeep-like: a simple round exhaust pipe intersecting the plastic “skidplate” simulation, necessitating a notch.

16. It’s hard to understand why the gas cap door should intrude into the wheelhouse perimeter band.

17. These flat-faced wheels don’t seem appropriate, but it’s easy for an owner to change to something more rugged-looking.

18. Even the plastic surrounds are slightly puffy.

19. The turn-signal repeaters can be seen from 45 degrees behind, as required by law. If the lamps were simple rectangles, not these handed moldings, it would be more Jeep-like.

Jeep Renegade Interior View

20. Remove the brand name and this quite nice interior could be anything—American, European, Asian, or art school student project.

21. This grab bar is an excellent idea—if you can close your hand around it.

22. The color accents recall the Dodge Dart interior, and liven up the bleak blackness of the whole, as do the color stitches on the seats. Very good.

23. Cloth seats look to be comfortable and able to hold occupants in place in odd-angle off-road drives.

Marcus B Simmons
Is Mopar EVER gonna fix their wiring issues??????
Marc Adam
A toys
Alexander Stewart
I like it
Shawn Daybell
And I thought the grand Cherokee was ugly.
Vivek Lal Velur
Please visit and like our page and support us. The Auto Chronicle
Jason Garrett
It is real.............. real UGLY. Holy crap who was the design team who came up with that garbage?
Doug S
The author has little knowledge about how a business model works and shouldn't write articles where he knows nothing. You are like SGT Shultz, I know nothing.   I believe you.   The Fiat based Jeep will be a mass market wonder for those of us who want a ultra compact SUV type vehicle.   Few if any of us will be driving off road with statistics today showing less than 1% of all SUV sales in the US take a off road vacation in their SUV.   In addition Fiat did give the little JEEP a off road alternative - the Trailhawk which is full of off road features including a rock crawling first gear.   EPA ratings are great, it has power choices and its so damn cute.   Maybe I can get hired to write future articles on something the mass audience might actually enjoy. 
Ahmad Azeem
not bad
Carol Reed
Love this car! Cannot wait for its release date.
Casey Harper
Stop bitching about looks and start bitching about how shitty its offroad capabilities are otherwise STFU
Oscar Escobar
Proportion and Measurement are different words, at least if you know something about arts, or car design...
Oscar Escobar
Wo the hell is talking about Kia? and have Kia Soul IS 7.3" ground clearance?
Mark Pierzynski
Looks like a Kia with a Jeep grill.
Matthew Paulson
What the heck are you thinking Jeep?!
Biju Varughese
Biju Varughese
Biju Varughese
Biju Varughese
Biju Varughese
Josh Karczewski: they systematically destroying dodge, first the are screwing up SRT. They are bring fiat platform on dodge products. Like this jeep here. They have no intention of making dodge chrylser flourish. Their plan was to bring fiat here, and now they have the means too. They are not listening to the what the American customer wants. The Hellcat is awesome, but viper sales have poor sales. This jeep is travesty to the name of jeep
Richard Boissonneault
Pas jolie ce Dodge.
Josh Karczewski
Check the specs and I think you'll be surprised. The Kia Soul IS the same size as the XJ, so they are returning to those proportions
Josh Karczewski
It's not meant to do any of that, and not every Jeep needs to be off road capable since only maybe 20% will ever see conditions they can be used in. Get over it
Josh Karczewski
You're kidding, right? Dodge is one of the hottest marques right now. SRT Hellcat? Hello? McFly?
Chris Ungaro
The design analysis is lost on the past. Like Jeep would be if not for Fiat!
Patrick Duffy
Not. A. Jeep.
Amanda Marie Rangel
Um no.
Mike Dewsberry
Tim Kastner
Real Jeeps should be built in USA not Italy
Luiz Ramos
wow jeep renegade diesel love....
Richard Allman
"Fiat is killing Dodge"? Really? BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Mr. Cumberford, RETIRE!!!!
Vladas Leonas
really ugly vehicle!
Ben Zim
IT is ... i love it
"Real Jeep" or not, I'm diggin' this little ute, could see me commuting in this in any weather, weekend urban romps, Lowes, everything that doesn't require my pickup.  Cool!
Man, who pissed in Cumberford's Cheerios?   You do know that the Nissan Cube made Cumberford cream his panties? Take his musing with a grain of salt.
Jared Brotman
nitpicky (comparative nitpickier, superlative nitpickiest) finicky; overly critical; concerned with insignificant details.
Robert May
Hideous. Just plain hideous.
Chris Eggen
Michelle Buckheister Fowlkes
Biju Varughese
this is not a jeep, fiat is killing dodge
Chris Prather
Car companies build cars for the 95% which are stupid lazy idiots. So yeah this thing will prob help Jeeps bottom line. However, it is no wrangler.
Paul Olsen
There's only one Jeep...Wrangler.
Matthew Lenz
Park it next to an Aztec, squint, and just maybe it will look ok.
Rahefee Ali Al-imir
Well Craig... U said all that to say what? All I read is better gas mileage and more of a maintenance cost issue. Ifs and diff parameters all do the same thing a stock 98 xj will do. These jeeps are for the woman who can't take a rough ride.... But I promise u this Jeep will not climb and get me there like My stock 98.... My. Cousin has a stock 95 last night we hit 110 with a Ford 5.4 in the trunk.... Now this Jeep can't do that...
Oscar Escobar
If Jeep could return to the XJ Chreokee size+design+proportion+formula it will have again very loyal costumers. That formula worked so good that AMC 242 4.0L engine was produced for almost 20 years and XJ platform least from 1982 to 2001. It doesn't mean that times and costumer changes, it means that Jeep changed itself seeking to survive market changes but, instead, lost a battle against its own ambition and now is only recognizable as a snob brand. Cadillac Escalade (in spite its size, price, bad proportions, etc) remains the same, also Ford Explorer, Ford F-150, they keep their DNA intact. The XJ Jeep Cherokee is one of the most successful car design in history, probably the most important design of SUV. Jeep is preserving Grand Cherokee formula in a very good way, but eliminate the XJ was a real mistake: a lightweight SUV with awesome proportions that only needed to have a fuel economy upgrade (it was 3000lb + 190 hp). But adapting Mitsubishi platforms for make MK Patriot and Compass began with the tragedy: Cherokee is a Giulietta body adaptation, Renegade is a Fiat 500L disguised as Jeep, and the only remaining Jeeps of what the brand is/was are the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler. They're killing the brand.
Craig Stishenko
MJ, XJ, ZJ, WJ all were off road capable Unibody Jeep's, with two solid axles. The XK and WK are the evolution. Also off road capable, replacing the front solid axle with IFS and adding advanced diff locking parameters.
Craig Stishenko
Automobile Magazine that was a brutal BRUTAL article on this little SUV, and the "old man" who wrote it should be suspended and sentenced to drive a Renegade or Cherokee for a month............ Sure it is not the same as the Jeeps of the 80's and previous... But it can't be. For a manufacturer to succeed in todays marketplace, the vehicle has to be safe, great on fuel, comfortable, practical, and carry a purchase price that won't kill the consumer. These baby Jeeps are not my kind of vehicle, but for someone who wants 40mpg highway, and best in class off road capability - there is no better choice.... And in my opinion, THAT is staying true to the brand.
Rahefee Ali Al-imir
James Jason Garvin I feel u but u must of had a old ass Jeep lol because my. Xj (1999) was monoque design since the 80s that's what made Jeep different and better... Maybe the tj but the zj and zj were all unibody... A very strong unibody like the astrovan just minus the motor cradle
Danny Bacud Caguioa
is that a Suzuki Samurai?
Mosin Khatib
WoW..!! Friends I Got 100 Rs Free Recharge Onlyin5- 10 Minutes check:-
Dennis L Hartle Jr.
And sergio himself said that this model is more important to Europe than the US..I hope he dont force any Italian\Fiat influence on the next would really hear howls of he better think straight and realize its a big seller..

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