The new--much smaller--Jeep

Fiat-Chrysler unveiled their new Jeep Renegade at the Geneva Auto show on March 4th, and at least some industry experts believe that it will be a hit.
Based on the Fiat 500x Crossover, the new baby Jeep will be made in an under-utilized Fiat factory in southern Italy–unlike the models already sold in the US that are built in Eastern Europe.

Designed to compete with the Nissan Juke (it would almost surely have to be better-looking than that vehicle!) and the Kia Soul, this new little Jeep will have AWD as an option, and features two removable roof panels that can be stowed in the cargo area. Additionally, it is slated to sell for less than the $16k Jeep Patriot, in order to lure a new class of buyers.

IHS Automotive believes that sales will be evenly split among The US, Europe, and Asia, and they predict that this new vehicle will sell ~120,000 units annually by 2016, and will enable Fiat-Chrysler to boost overall sales figures by 20 percent.

Sounds cool. I think there’s long been an untapped market for a cheap, basic mode of transport that offers some utility, like the VW Beetle was in my day. Emphasis on “cheap”. Everything small these days has prices comparable to much better vehicles. I use the “Smart” as my example.

Ahhh. A Fiat with teeth. Seems as though the thing to do for Chrysler is put the Jeep logo on anything that moves and hope it sticks. Just call it the Jeep corporation and be done with it. Oh I’m sure they will put some bogus “Trail Rated” logo on it for a few extra dollars. Soul selling is alive and well. Jeep logo envy will boost sales, for a while.

“Sounds cool. I think there’s long been an untapped market for a cheap, basic mode of transport that offers some utility”

You mean like the old WW II era Jeep? You know the one that could be reassembled in a few minutes with a couple wrenches, and would pretty much go anywhere?

At a parade a couple years ago, a group of guys driving an old Jeep, stopped, tore the entire vehicle down including engine, body, wheels, axles, etc., transported it ten feet, and reassembled it all in about 10 minutes. No wonder we won the war.

And few people seem to be aware that the basic design of the WWII Jeep was conceived by the long-gone American Bantam Company. After Bantam’s redesigned Austin vehicle’s sales really started to peter-out in the US, they came up with this design in a government-sponsored competition, and it was clearly superior to the other designs that had been proposed.

The only significant problem with the original design was that it came in slightly over the weight limit, but revised painting techniques reduced the weight sufficiently so that it met the specs.

While it is true that Willys motors and Ford actually built the majority of WWII Jeeps, that is only because the government–correctly–surmised that American Bantam would not be able to gear up sufficiently to produce the vehicles in the volume that was needed. Bantam did manufacture some of the WW II Jeeps, but probably 90% of the production was split between Willys and Ford.

Say what you will about Chrysler, but all Jeeps except one (the Compass?) are actually tested and rated for off-road use. Some years ago Car and Driver tested a stock Grand Cherokee (basically a soccer mom grocery getter) off road with a number of other 4WD vehicles. The GC held its own.

I hope that if this thing is marketed as a Jeep that they do NOT make the mistake of plastering “Trail Rated” or similar on it if it is not and wreck the brand’s reputation.

Yeah but this will be a Fiat Jeep made in Italy.

I don’t think it matters what they stick on it. If they keep it cheap and basic, I think it’ll sell. The old aircooled Beetle didn’t break sales records for decades because of what it was called. It did so because it gave us a dirt-cheap mode of transportation, one we could afford. People bought them in droves even despite their dark history.

To be more correct, only those Jeeps of particular models with the “badge” have the certain options can be trail rated, so called. It isn’t like every Jeep liberty was trail rated for example. To pass the basic test of being “trail Rated” is not the same as being a long term off road adaquate vehicle. If you buy a model of many other brand SUVs, that have adequate ride height, appropriate skid plate protection, 4wd and low enough gearing you can pass the course of being “trail rated”. This says nothing about long term use and the integrity of frames and sub frames nor the ability of the suspension or other components to hold up to a steady diet of getting dunked in mud or bouncing off rocks.

People don’t get that trail rating is a merchandizing gimmic leading people to believe they might be driving a Baja ready off road vehicle. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A friends “trail Jeep Cherokee rated” so called had to be pulled out of a mud hole. I easily passed through it and turned around and drove back behind on the other side in my non " trail rated" base Tacoma Pick up 4 cylinder short bed truck to give him a boost. With no options, it has everything you need to be an accomplished off roader…same with the 4Runner, Xterra and a bunch of other brand non trail rated vehicles.

I have no doubt, they could come up with a few options for this new jeep and make it trail rated. But, with some other non Wrangler models, don’t venture too far off any trail in some of these wannabes. The prepared ones you can.

I think back on the history of Fiat and Chrysler, quality wise, and my head spins!
Maybe they should team up with Peugeot and Renault.

Both the Compass and the Patriot were based on the Dodge Caliber, and no one sane pretended it had any off-road ability. Various styling studies were done for a Jeep version of the Caliber, and the execs decided to make both the more catlike Compass and the more traditional Patriot. Mechanically there was little difference and neither had much ground clearance. Or sold very well.

This new model, if cheap enough, might catch a few buyers who would otherwise get the Soul. They better not be planning on stealing Juke buyers, as there aren’t many.

in case anyone wants to see pictures of the new renegade

I like the looks. It puts a modern high-tech spin on the old Jeep design cues.

It is cute and it might be decent in deep snow, but. If people are buying one with the idea that it will be an off road economy car, that’s not going to happen. It’s trying to fill a void left by what ? The Suzuki Sidekick and GM version failed to sell in great numbers because it’s hard to justify a small car that gets max…25 mpg highway and then at lower speeds. The more off road cues and abilities you put into a car, the worse the mileage. It will sell initially with the frontal teeth and the box shape but every thing they do to make it a Jeep, makes it uneconomical. That’s acceptable when you can tow 5k…not for this. It’s a step backward in practicality, a step forward in merchandizing.

Gotta agree with @dagosa Neat design but they can lose the orange color IMHO. One thing though if you want to market to the female gender, the front ends need to smile not frown or grit their teeth. I had become exasperated when my wife was not interested in certain cars until she explained that their front ends frowned instead of smiled. Guess I just wasn’t astute enough to see it.

I think it works. People looking for something to do heavy work with won’t be buying this vehicle, and more than they bought Jeep Libertys. It’s a whole different market segment.
And I like orange. The '70’s colors are due to come back. Everything today is gray, black, or white.

Bing, Mazda must have spoken with your wife. Their cars have big, broad smiles in front. {:slight_smile:

I would not discredit Fiat to build a good small 4x4.
They are doing it for years, take a peek at Fiat Panda 4x4.

Some years ago on Top Gear they even managed to beat a Range Rover in a race climbing out of a quarry with it.

@252525 Isn’t that Panda the 1976 Ford Fiesta with a little grill work?

That Jeep’s competing with the like of the Juke, nothing heavy duty offroad.

@Bing The First Panda kinda resembles a Fiesta or similar small car, the later models are 4 door tallish city cars with the later models in particular offering a 4x4 model. The 500L that you can buy here is closely related to the Panda that’s available in other markets.