2016 Jeep Renegade Latitude Long-Term Update: Exterior Design
Born to be bold but boasting a distinctive sense of style that optimizes both form and function, the Jeep Renegade continues to impress the KBB staff with its curbside presence as well as with its general driving demeanor. Admittedly the high-profile Omaha Orange paint on our particular Latitude 4x4 example elevates its visual punch an added notch or two. But that vibrant color choice notwithstanding, the Renegade’s seamless blending of classic Jeep heritage cues with modern, tough-but-tasteful flourishes definitely sets it apart from the rest of the mini-ute pack.
Jeep makes no bones about having keyed the diminutive Renegade’s exterior off of its iconic Wrangler. Highlighting a long list of parallels are large round headlamps that flank a Jeep-signature 7-slot grille, angular body forms, door-mounted side mirrors, prominent squared-off fenders that house a beefy 17-inch wheel/tire package and adventure-facilitating short overhangs that net best-in-class approach/departure angles for those times when the pavement gives way to less-refined tracks. Even the Renegade’s square taillamps have their origin in Wrangler history, along with an “X” form insert Jeep says was inspired by military vehicles.
Airing things out
The Wrangler legacy is equally evident on the neo-classical side of the Renegade’s design, where black greenhouse surrounds can be matched with an available black roof panel meant to recall the Wrangler’s optional removable hardtop. But here, the Renegade also breaks new ground with its class-exclusive My Sky open-air roof system. Analogous to the Freedom Panels available on a Wrangler Hardtop, My Sky is offered in two forms; both feature a pair of lightweight pop-out panels that stow conveniently under the rear cargo floor to create the kind of impressive open-air vista treasured by Wrangler fans. However, the top-of-the-line version fitted to our long termer also adds a power tilt/slide feature for the forward panel that makes buttoning things back up more convenient – and a good deal quicker -- when you’re traveling two-up and encounter a sudden rain squall. Our Renegade also had the optional full-size spare tire that resides in the under-floor cavity, a choice that means the My Sky panels must reside in the rear bay itself or be left at home.
Although paying enlightened tribute its classic forebear has tangible merits, the Renegade design team also was keenly aware of today’s efficiency challenges when it came to dealing with the details of this surprisingly slick cute ute. The entire exterior has been aero-tweaked in the wind tunnel from its front apron to its functional decklid spoiler. Even the taillamps and alloy wheel were optimized to help reduce drag. The end result is a vehicle with a purposeful but engaging appearance that we think works well on pretty much every level. Judging from the Rengade’s solid sales figures, it appears we’re not the only ones who feel that way.
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