Archive for April, 2015|Monthly archive page

Jeep Performance Parts Introduces Factory-Designed 4-Inch Wrangler Lift Kit

When you buy a new Jeep Wrangler, you’re not really getting a new car—you’re getting a blank canvas to customize, modify, hack apart, and bolt back together in whatever crazy one-off combo you desire. Jeep knows this, as evidenced by the plethora of Mopar and Jeep Performance Parts accessories available for the venerable off-roader. Now, you can roll with the big boys but maintain the reassurance of factory engineering: Next month, Jeep Performance Parts will begin offering a four-inch suspension lift for the Wrangler.

We first saw the new four-inch kit at the unveiling of Jeep’s 2015 Moab Easter Safari concepts, albeit clandestinely: The custom Red Rock Responder concept (shown above) sits on the Jeep Performance Parts lift. Jeep’s in-house accessory line has offered a two-inch lift for some time—as seen on the Wrangler Africa and Jeep Chief concepts also shown at the Easter Safari showcase—but this is the first time Jeep has offered a four-inch kit engineered in-house.

The kit packs new springs, remote-reservoir shocks, new control arms, a new front driveshaft and yoke, lengthened brake lines, a high-steer conversion kit, a steering damper, and all the necessary brackets to complete the installation. The whole outfit costs $2250, though sadly, it’s available only for the four-door Wrangler, 2007 to current.

Of course, if you really want to roll with the biggest boys, you’ll need to throw in another upgrade from the Jeep Performance Parts catalog: bolt-in front and rear Dana 60 axles with either 4.88:1 or 5.38:1 gearing and the brakes from a Ram 3500. Which, if you go that route, will add another $13,000 total to your project budget. But hey, you can never be too prepared.

Read more at: http://blog.caranddriver.com/jeep-performance-parts-introduces-factory-designed-4-inch-wrangler-lift-kit/

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The Itch’n Run Photo Scavenger Hunt THIS Sunday starting at Dick Scott’s Classic Motorcycles

THE ITCH’N RUN Photo Scavenger Hunt
THIS Sunday, May 3rd 2015
Join us here at:
Dick Scott’s Classic Motorcycles
36534 Plymouth Rd
Livonia, MI 48150
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Registration: 10:30am – 12:00pm
All Entries Finish from: 2:00pm – 3:00pm at:
Penrickton Center for Blind Children
26530 Eureka Rd
Taylor, MI
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Prize Drawings at 4:00pm
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Entry Fee is $20.00 Per Vehicle
Rain or Shine Event!
Benefits: The Penrickton Center for Blind Children!
Itch'n Run sq

Chrysler 300 Interior Bowls Over Competition

Is it any wonder American consumers ignore large cars and instead shop the abundant crop of functional, sometimes sporty CUVs?

WardsAuto’s Large Car segment is a lonely place, with only four entries, and sales through March are down 14% while the car market overall is flat, according to WardsAuto data.

Two years ago, the newest entry was the Chevrolet Impala, which is very sharp, but it didn’t win a Ward’s 10 Best Interiors trophy because the interior is less compelling than the beautifully sculpted sheet metal.

The same cannot be said of the refreshed Chrysler 300, which carries over many of the styling cues, inside and out, that have made it a perennial contender, while integrating a number of meaningful improvements.

The Chrysler 300 makes big sedans relevant once again and even tips its hat, by way of a nearly identical color scheme, to a high-end interior that dazzled us last year: the $122,895 Mercedes S-Class sedan.

The 300C Platinum rolled into our garage with a more palatable $51,175 price tag and, like the S-Class, parlays gorgeous satin metallic trim, quilted leather, excellent fit-and-finish and a first-rate human-machine interface that is easy to learn and simple to use.

With its latest Uconnect system, Fiat Chrysler makes what appears to be simple work of the HMI, which can be daunting because automakers need to incorporate so many functions within the central display screen to eliminate buttons from the instrument panel and center console.

But the 300 is much more than cool electronics. From the white-faced analog clock to the heated rear seats, the cabin is roomy, welcoming and luxurious.

“In a world overpopulated with giant SUVs, the Chrysler 300C Platinum reminds us how glorious big sedans can be,” writes WardsAuto editor Drew Winter.

“The ’15 model takes the award-winning interior of the previous version up another notch with even more features, comfort and sumptuous materials. It also has wonderfully practical details, such as stout grab handles and a truly sturdy sunglass holder,” Winter says.

For what it’s worth, Fiat Chrysler kinda owns the big-car segment. The 300’s platform mate, the refreshed Dodge Charger, is the only entry in the sector posting gains through the first three months, up 5% to 26,218 units, according to WardsAuto data.

The Charger is duking it out with the Impala for the No.1 sales slot, while deliveries of the 300 are flat. The Ford Taurus, overdue for redesign, brings up the rear; its sales are down 27.6% for the quarter.

Yes, the Charger also was in the competition this year, but we opted instead for the 300’s soothing, upscale persona.

“I could live in this car,” says one judge. And live well.

Read more at: http://wardsauto.com/vehicles-technology/chrysler-300-interior-bowls-over-competition

Children take more risks crossing streets than parents think

Reuters Health – Children may cut things closer than their parents realize when it comes to guessing how far cars are from an intersection or how long it takes to safely reach the other side, a small study suggests.

Using virtual reality, researchers tested how often kids might walk into oncoming traffic in real life. The results show that “parents may be over-estimating how careful their children are” and missing opportunities to teach kids safer habits, study author Dr. Barbara Morrongiello, a psychology professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, said in an email.

Morrongiello and co-author Michael Corbett recruited 139 children and their parents to participate in the virtual street-crossing experiment in Guelph, a suburban community about 45 minutes from Toronto.

Study participants wore headsets outfitted with a 3-D display and motion sensors to detect every real step they took into virtual streets. Participants stood at an intersection on a virtual two-way street with sidewalks, enhanced by traffic sounds that got louder as cars approached.

After a trial run for the children to practice using the equipment, the researchers asked kids to cross the virtual street when they thought traffic conditions were safe.

Researchers measured how many seconds the virtual cars were from hitting kids when they crossed the street. Then, they put parents in the same situation and asked them when they thought their kids would attempt to cross.

Parents generally expected their kids not to cross the street when an oncoming car was less than 4 seconds away, while the children crossed into traffic with tighter gaps of about 3 seconds, the study found.

Children were hit by virtual cars about six percent of the time.

Younger kids, aged 7 to 9, typically walked into traffic when an approaching car was about 2.95 seconds away, while their parents generally thought the children would allow for a gap of 4.19 seconds.

Older children, aged 10 to 12, on average allowed for a 3.03 second gap, while their parents thought they would let 3.85 seconds pass.

It’s possible that these suburban kids aren’t as savvy about traffic as their urban counterparts, and it’s also possible that the children took more risks in the virtual world than they would in real life, the authors acknowledge in the journal Injury Prevention.

But the findings still reveal a real danger, Dr. Frederick Rivara, vice chair of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle, said in an email.

“Parents need to be realistic about their children’s developmental level,” said Rivara, who wasn’t involved in the study. “I call it the Lake Wobegon effect – all parents think their kids are above average, when of course, most kids are average. The issue with pedestrian safety is that an error here can result in the child being seriously injured.”

To keep kids safe, parents need to start by setting a good example, David Schwebel, a psychology professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in an email. “Children learn a lot just by watching, and if parents behave in dangerous ways, their children are likely to do so also.”

Pedestrian safety lessons can start at any age, and it’s especially crucial to begin early when children live in cities where they will be exposed to busy intersections from a very young age, said Schwebel, who wasn’t involved in the study.

For toddlers, parents can talk about what safety choices they make each time they cross the street, from looking both ways to making eye contact with drivers, said Jodie Plumert, a psychology professor at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

By the time children are 4 or 5 years old, it’s smart for parents to start letting children make the decision about when it’s safe to cross street, starting of course with residential streets with light traffic before trying busy intersections, said Plumert, who wasn’t involved in the study. This lets parents gently correct bad choices so kids can fine-tune their instincts about when it’s safe to cross.

“I’m a big fan of talking to kids about why they need to follow particular rules or procedures for crossing safely,” Plumert said by email. “As soon as kids start walking across streets with their parents, parents can start teaching street safety to them.”

SOURCE: bmj.co/1ChoNjD Injury Prevention, online March 31, 2015.

Seven Signs Your Brakes Need to be Inspected

The Car Care Council reminds motorists that routine brake inspections are essential to safe driving and maintaining your vehicle.

“When it comes to vehicle safety, the brake system is at the top of the list, so have your brakes checked by an auto service professional at least once a year,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Knowing the key warning signs that your brakes may need maintenance will go a long way toward keeping you and others safe on the road.”

The Car Care Council recommends that motorists watch for seven signs that their brakes need to be inspected:

1. Noise: screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.

2. Pulling: vehicle pulls to one side while braking.

3. Low Pedal:brake pedal nearly touches the floor before engaging.

4. Hard Pedal: must apply extreme pressure to the pedal before brakes engage.

5. Grabbing: brakes grab at the slightest touch to the pedal.

6. Vibration: brake pedal vibrates or pulses, even under normal braking conditions.

7. Light: brake light is illuminated on your vehicle’s dashboard.

Brakes are a normal wear item on any vehicle and they will eventually need to be replaced. Factors that can affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material.

Using the Car Care Council’s free personalized schedule and email reminder service is a simple way to help you remember to have your brakes inspected and take better care of your vehicle. It is an easy-to-use resource designed to help you drive smart, save money and make informed decisions.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2014/08/seven-signs-your-brakes-need-to-be-inspected/

Wet Weather Driving Tips

Spring and summer showers may mean flowers, but wet pavement contributes to nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes each year.

Here are some tips you’ll want to follow the next time you’re caught driving in the rain.

Safety starts before you drive, and your goal should be to see and be seen. Replace windshield wiper inserts that leave streaks or don’t clear the glass in a single swipe. Make sure all headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are properly functioning so other drivers will see you during downpours. Turn on your headlights whenever you drive.

Proper tire tread depth and inflation are imperative to maintaining good traction on wet roadways. Check tread depth with a quarter inserted upside down into the tire groove. If you can see above Washington’s head, start shopping for new tires. Check each tire’s pressure, including the spare, at least once a month… and be sure to check the pressure when the tires are cold.

Avoid Cruise Control

Most modern cars feature cruise control. This feature works great in dry conditions, but when used in wet conditions, the chance of losing control of the vehicle can increase. To prevent loss of traction, the driver may need to reduce the car’s speed by lifting off the accelerator, which cannot be accomplished when cruise control is engaged.

When driving in wet-weather conditions, it is important to concentrate fully on every aspect of driving. Avoiding cruise control will allow the driver more options to choose from when responding to a potential loss-of-traction situation, thus maximizing your safety.

Slow Down and Leave Room

Slowing down during wet weather driving can be critical to reducing a car’s chance of hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a film of water. With as little as 1/12 inch of water on the road, tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road. Drivers should reduce their speed to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. At speeds as low as 35 mph, new tires can still lose some contact with the roadway.

To reduce chances of hydroplaning, drivers should slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply and drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you. Also, it’s important for motorists to allow ample stopping distance between cars by increasing the following distance of the vehicle in front of them and beginning to slow down to stop for intersections, turns and other traffic early.

Responding to a Skid

Even careful drivers can experience skids. If a driver feels their car begin to skid, it’s important to not panic and follow these basic steps:

– Continue to look and steer in the direction in which the driver wants the car to go.

– Avoid slamming on the brakes as this will further upset the vehicle’s balance and make it harder to control.

If you feel the car begin to skid, continue to look and steer in the direction you want the car to go. Don’t panic, and avoid slamming on the brakes to maintain control.

Overall you want to be extra cautious in wet weather. Slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply and allow ample stopping distance between you and the cars in front of you. Also, do these things one-at-a-time. Brake, then turn, then accelerate.

Read more at: http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/roadway-safety/wet-weather-driving-tips/

2018 Jeep Wrangler: The most changes since 1997

The next generation of the iconic off-roader will be the 2018 Jeep Wrangler, debuting sometime in 2017.

While Jeep reportedly tried an independent suspension for Wrangler, based on the 1963 Jeep Wagoneer or the Ram 4×4, Larry Vellequette of Automotive News wrote on February 15, 2015, that they would stick with floating solid axles; one insider said they would change the configuration somewhat. Among other things, this will help Mopar and the aftermarket to keep selling modifications, and will keep modified Wranglers on the trail for years to come.

To lose weight, or at least to avoid gaining too much extra weight, Wrangler is likely to switch to an aluminum tub and may use a lighter but equally tough hydroformed frame, possibly with other aluminum-alloy components. A diesel could provide a serious boost in fuel efficiency.

The Jeep Wrangler is a key vehicle for Chrysler, the “ring that controls all Jeeps,” and Sergio Marchionne has said many times they cannot reduce its off-road capability. Whether this means they will actually not reduce its capability remains to be seen.

The appearance of the Wrangler is not likely to change much, and aerodynamic improvements may be brought about mostly by changes in the side mirrors, underbody covers, and gearing.

Flip-up rear window

A new Chrysler patent application shows a unique full folding back glass design, and while this patent isn’t officially related to the Jeep Wrangler, it is used for the illustrations, and there is no vehicle in the current lineup that would accept a design like this as well as the Wrangler.

The current Wrangler has backglass that opens away from the bodywork with struts that hold it up high enough to access the entire opening for easier loading and unloading. The spare tire swings out of the way and the backglass opens upwards. This patent application shows a similar design, but this backglass folds all of the way up to the roof, with clips built into the roof so it can be pinned down. This design also has clips inside of the vehicle where the driver may clip up the struts after disconnecting them to swivel the glass up onto the roof.

Driving with rear glass open could cause the vehicle to pull in exhaust fumes if the front windows were not also open, or while idling at a halt; and can also draw in mud when used off-road. Even with these downsides, there are likely people who would love to be able to lock the backglass of their Jeep Wrangler open while driving with the top on, so the next generation Wrangler may include this as an optional package. There is also the possibility that this backglass design is intended for a fixed roof model that would offer the option to drive with the backglass open because the owner cannot remove the roof altogether. It could also serve as another “look what we have” item that will never get used.

Chrysler may also simply have patented it to prevent other automakers from using it.

Aluminum Wranglers

Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette quoted Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne (May 6, 2014) that indicates extensive use of aluminum on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler (to be produced starting in calendar-year 2017, according to the latest Five Year Plan). When aksed if he could think of a better use for aluminum than Wrangler, Mr. Marchionne answered, “No.” He also said that FCA would be ready to produce aluminum vehicles in 2017, the same year Wrangler (but also probably at least one Alfa Romeo) enters production. (Alfa Romeo appears to be re-pioneering resins, years after GM’s Saturn and Chrysler’s own research, which resulted in several concept cars but no production car.)

While Chrysler has successfully attacked highway mileage with gearing and aerodynamics, weight is the key to city mileage, and the company is having problems meeting fuel economy goals because of customer demands for weight-increasing safety ratings, big wheels, powerful stereos, and (outside of Wrangler) near-silent interiors.

Chrysler posted a job opening for a senior buyer of aluminum components in June 2014.

Diesel engines, pickup trucks, and other changes

Many expect Jeep to finally issue a U.S. diesel version of the Wrangler, and a limited production pickup version (Gladiator? Comanche?). The engine would likely be a Fiat four-cylinder diesel (424?), the upcoming Alfa Romeo 2.2, or the next-generation VM 2.8 liter I-4 (a newer version of the engine used in Europe for many years).

Standard American engines would likely be a V6 — by then, upgraded with more power and efficiency — and the upcoming Hurricane Four.

Most expect Jeep to make the Wrangler more aerodynamic, with a greater slant to the windshield; many have speculated that the fold-down windshield function will finally be dropped. It is a unique feature for Jeep in North America, but few seem to care about it. Removable doors are likely to remain, along with the various hard and soft tops. A new patent shows flipping rear glass windows.

Independent suspensions

Many may ask why Jeep would even want to use an independent suspension, when the current design:

– Is proven to work well off-road

– Can be modified for higher off-road performance

– Is proven in sales

– Costs less to set up than an independent suspension

The arguments for the new design include:

– It could increase stability and would end the so-called “death wobble,” a public relations and lawsuit problem

– A “true Jeep” independent suspension would greatly improve ride and handling

– Most independent suspensions would improve on-road behavior

– The factory could increase capacity by bringing in ready-to-fit suspension assemblies

One possibility would be updating a 1990s design by Chrysler engineers Evan Boberg, Gerry Hentschel, and Bob Sheaves, who created an independent suspension for the 1997 Jeep Wrangler. This design does not lose ground clearance during a jounce; the differential travels with the wheel — if one side of the vehicle goes over a rock or into a ditch, the differential is pulled up, providing superior “real-life” ground clearance. Wheel travel was around 12 inches. (Evan Boberg described it in Common Sense Not Required, Bob Sheaves in this article on Li’l Blue; neither is currently employed by Chrysler.)

Another possibility is adapting the Ram Power Wagon’s suspension to the Wrangler, which would be less risky than most other solutions.

An independent suspension carries risks. The Wrangler’s off-road credentials will have to be superior to current models to win the hearts of Jeepers, who, with magazine critics, will be ready to call it “a rebadged Fiat,” “fake Jeep,” and “mall runner” — regardless of what it can do on the trail. The system will need to be well tested on all types of terrain, be as durable as the current setup, and capable on all models.

Some have talked about the possibility of making two Wranglers, traditional and independent, but this is not feasible in the current factory. A backup plan may be in place, but given that such a backup plan would also require a factory redesign, the “backup” may simply be spending more time to get it right… unless Chrysler is planning to reopen a closed plant (or build a new one) and move the old Rubicon tooling there. This remains unlikely, at best.

There have been no specific, official announcements on timing or suspension choices.

Read more at: http://www.allpar.com/SUVs/jeep/wrangler/2017.html

Driving in the “Cone Zone” Can be Tough on Vehicles

It’s bound to happen – that moment when you enter into the “cone zone,” road construction where you will likely hit a bump or two, or come across loose stones and other hazards. These rough road conditions can be tough on a vehicle’s steering and suspension system and can throw out the alignment, while loose stones have the potential to damage the vehicle’s exterior or windshield, according to the Car Care Council.

“Even the most careful driver, who is traveling slowly and carefully through road construction, can hit an unexpected bump or other road hazards,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “The key is to pay attention to your car and if you think there’s a problem, have it taken care of as soon as possible.”

The symptoms of steering and suspension or wheel alignment problems are uneven tire wear, pulling to one side, noise and vibration while cornering or loss of control. The main parts of the systems are shocks and/or struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack/box, bearings, seals or hub units and tie rod ends.

The council recommends that motorists have their vehicles checked out immediately if any of these symptoms exist, as steering and suspension systems are key safety-related components and largely determine the car’s ride and handling. Regardless of road conditions, these systems should be checked annually and a wheel alignment should be performed at the same time.

Motorists also should do frequent visual checks of their vehicle’s exterior and windshield to identify any chips, dings or cracks. These are small problems that can become costly repairs and safety hazards if they aren’t taken care of immediately.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2011/05/driving-in-the-cone-zone-can-be-tough-on-vehicles/

Renegade, 300 on Ward’s “Best Interior” list

Ward’s Auto has added the Jeep Renegade Limited to its “Ten Best Interiors List” for 2015.

The Renegade was one of two Chrysler-brand vehicles to make list: the other was the new Chrysler 300 Platinum.

Drew Winter, Editor-in-Chief of Ward’s Autoworld magazine, said:

“The interior checks off all our boxes in terms of being roomy, comfortable and having excellent ergonomics — even the voice-activation system works flawlessly. But, the attention given to interior details and design is truly spectacular for a vehicle in this class. Whimsical design elements, bold, contrasting colors and stunning metallic bronze trim convey a sense of fun and adventure that sets it apart. The Renegade isn’t a ’cute ute,’ it’s the Cherokee’s badass little brother.”

Ward’s Auto editors spent two months evaluating and judging 42 vehicles. Scoring was based on a wide variety of factors including fit-and-finish, comfort, material selection, ergonomics, information/displays, value, safety and overall design aesthetics.

At $33,205, the Renegade Limited was one of the least-expensive vehicles on the list. Only the Honda Fit EX-L had a lower sticker.

Last month, the editors of Kelley Blue Book‘s kbb.com said the Renegade was one of their “10 Favorite New-for-2015 Cars” and “10 Best All-Wheel-Drive Vehicles Under $25,000.”

Chrysler’s new top-level Platinum interior also received high praise from Winter:

“In a world overpopulated with giant SUVs, the Chrysler 300C Platinum reminds us how glorious big sedans can be. The ’15 model takes the superb interior of the previous version up another notch with even more features, comfort and sumptuous materials. The quilted leather trim and patterned upholstery are similar to what we see on German luxury sedans costing three times as much. The huge touchscreen and Uconnect infotainment system is about the best at any price. Yet it also has wonderfully practical details, such as stout grab handles and a truly sturdy sunglasses holder. ‘I could live in this car,’ says one judge. Yes indeed. And live well,”

Read more at: http://allparnews.com/index.php/2015/04/renegade-300-on-wards-best-interior-list-28436

2015 Jeep Renegade First Drive & Review

Jeep had paraded the ’15 Renegade and Renegade Trailhawk in front of journalists and the general public for over a year. We snickered at it, leered at it, touched it, and even sat in it during that time. The new Jeep really began to pique our interest, though. Was it a real Jeep, or was it simply a rebodied all-wheel-drive Fiat 500L? To find out, we jumped at the chance to get behind the wheel and test drive the Jeep Renegade Latitude 4×4, Limited 4×4, and the top-tier Trailhawk 4×4. Sport and 4×2 models are also available. Our review took us over the streets and freeways, as well as in the hills and mountains, near San Jose, California. First and foremost, if you’re a Jeep enthusiast who’s into lift kits, oversized tires, and boulders larger than bowling balls, stop reading. Traditional off-road Jeep fanboys and fangirls scoff at any 4×4 that doesn’t have a ladder frame or at least solid axles front and rear and for good reason. These heavy-duty components are some of the last bits leftover from when the first Jeep rolled off of the assembly line over 70 years ago. But, a company like Jeep can’t survive in today’s competitive automotive marketplace by building only Wranglers. New segments are needed to broaden the brand’s appeal and bring in new customers looking for on- and off-road capability and efficiency to the tune of more than 30 mpg. And that is exactly what the ’15 Jeep Renegade is designed to deliver.

With an open mind, it’s hard to not like the sporty and fun-looking Renegade when inspecting the exterior. The round headlights, seven-slot grill, trapezoidal wheel openings, and overall utilitarian feel of the Renegade set it apart from the other seemingly more sophisticated, and frankly boring, vehicle lineup in the compact-SUV segment. By comparison, the Jeep Renegade is that unconventionally amusing uncle, the one that let you light fireworks in the house and shoot beer bottles in the backyard. We appreciate that the Renegade puts a smile on our face, even when it’s simply parked.

The interior of the Limited and Trailhawk models we drove were quite plush and felt similar to what you would see in a top-tier Cherokee or Grand Cherokee. We appreciated the use of soft-touch materials in places where other manufacturers might use less-impressive hard plastic. The Renegade is available absolutely stuffed with technology. Some of our favorite features include the built-in on-demand Wi-Fi hotspot capability and an available mobile phone app, which enables owners to start their Jeep and lock or unlock doors from their cell phones. The instrumentation is easy to read and most controls are intuitive in their operation. We absolutely love the split HVAC system and the real numbers on the adjustment knob, instead of an ambiguous blue and red line designed specifically to mock us while we incessantly fumble for a comfortable temperature.

We tested both the 1.4L MultiAir Turbo and the 2.4L Tigershark MultiAir2 engines on-road. The six-speed manual used behind the 1.4L is a sporty, quick-shifting transmission. It takes no time at all to learn where the forward gears are and manipulate the clutch effectively. Shifting into Reverse requires that you lift up on the shift ring, similar to the shifter you might find in a sandrail or VW Baja Bug but much easier to engage. The 160hp 1.4L punches out 184 lb-ft of torque. You can keep busy shifting in the mountain twists or you can simply rev the engine to the moon by selecting the proper gear. Both options are fun. The naturally aspirated 2.4L produces 180hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. This engine is coupled to the nine-speed automatic, which can be just as fun to drive as the six-speed when toggled through the gears manually. Overall, the Jeep Renegade handles crisply and is extremely confidence-inspiring on-road.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Jeep if it didn’t go off-road. Nothing else currently in the vehicle segment even compares to the off-road capability of the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk. It has some off-road features, such as the large accessible bright red tow hooks, 20:1 crawl ratio, and Selec-Terrain traction system that we wish were on other vehicles considered to be more trail worthy by many 4×4 enthusiasts. Interestingly enough, the Renegade Trailhawk even has better approach, departure, and breakover angles than a Cherokee Trailhawk. An extracurricular off-road adventure took us to the sand dunes and rocky mountain trails in southern California. We were pleasantly surprised at how far up the trail we could take the Renegade Trailhawk, almost to the point of feeling guilty, while wondering “Should we be here in this?” It drives like a maneuverable side-by-side UTV. Rather than being forced to climb over rocks, ledges, and other trail obstacles, you can simply steer around them with ease if you choose.

The ’15 Jeep Renegade is not a Wrangler, and it shouldn’t be. Most new Jeeps never even go off-road. Think of it like this: without the success of the Renegade, the current Cherokee, and Grand Cherokee, the Wrangler would not exist, and neither would the Jeep brand. As a Jeep enthusiast you don’t have to buy these new Jeeps or even like them, but you should thank someone that does. Ultimately, all Jeeps, including the ’15 Renegade, are offered in a model that is still best in class for off-road capability, and that’s really what the Jeep brand is all about, right?

Read more at: http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/research/2015-jeep-renegade-first-drive-and-review/ar-AAaXXEg