Auto blogFri, 07 Mar 2014 15:45:00 EST
Jeep is hard at work on the next-generation Wrangler, though the truck is still a few years from hitting the trails. The new model will still be aimed at off-roaders, but rumors suggest it will be a little more comfortable than previous versions to appeal to more people.
According to Road and Track, Jeep is developing a power-retractable top as an expensive option for the Wrangler. There is no word if the top in question is a sliding canvas rollback like the ones found on many European vehicles or a full convertible hardtop or softtop, nor do we know whether it would be made available on two- or four-door models. It might be a nice feature for some buyers but would certainly add complexity to a truck already known for its ruggedness. We asked Jeep for confirmation, but Jeep spokesperson Todd Goyer could only remind us that the company "can't comment about future products."
In news that is likely to irk the faithful, R&T reports the next model may also ditch its folding windshield for improved safety and possibly even get rid of its rear-mounted, full-size spare tire. The new Wrangler won't go completely soft, though, and will reportedly still feature removable doors and solid axles.
The jig is up, the noose is out, we finally found it: the Renegade that Jeep has made, retrieved for a bounty.
Okay, enough of that. Meet the Renegade - Jeep's cute little compact crossover that makes its official debut here at the Geneva Motor Show. We recently brought you a massive Deep Dive into what makes the Renegade tick, and we're now getting our first live look at the tiny Jeep, live from its coming out party in Switzerland.
With the exception of associate editor Jonathon Ramsey, who doesn't know what he's talking about, we at Autoblog are kind of smitten with the little Jeep - it's a really unique package, featuring details that really make it kind of special (notice that jerry can pattern in the taillights, for example). Jeep will offer the Renegade with either a 1.4-liter turbo-four (from the Fiat 500L) or a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four (from the Dodge Dart), with either a six-speed manual transmission or a nine-speed automatic. There will even be a Trailhawk version with four-wheel drive - properly trail-rated, to boot. The Renegade also features a nifty new My Sky removable roof panel system, giving this little cutie sort of a baby Wrangler feel.
It's no secret that the midsize crossover segment is one of the most hotly contested battlegrounds in the automotive industry. Long have vehicles like the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 duked it out for those ever illusive consumer dollars. For many customers, though, even something like a Nissan Rogue is too big, whether in terms of price, fuel economy or just plain size.
For those customers, a growing market segment seems poised to fulfill their needs. Compact crossovers and tall wagons like the Nissan Juke and Kia Soul offer the high-riding driving experience with all the utility that comes from their two-box layout. It's an underrepresented segment among manufacturers, with big names like Toyota, Ford, General Motors and Honda lacking a true competitor.
To capitalize on this growing class, Chrysler's Jeep brand has readied this: the Renegade. That's right. Not Jeepster - Renegade. This diminutive off-roader, which rides on Fiat Chrysler's new small-wide 4x4 architecture, represents Jeep's first foray into the subcompact CUV segment as we know it, and it's making its official debut this week, on the floor of the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. Join us as we take a close look at one of Jeep's most important products in some time.
Meet the Renegade - Jeep's new baby crossover that's set to debut at the Geneva Motor Show this week. The folks at Jalopnik got their hands on a small batch of photos of the new little cutie, showing what appears to be a Trailhawk (read: trail-rated) version, as well as a more civilian-spec Renegade, complete with a new removable roof system, reportedly called My Sky.
Details are slim, though in addition to the exterior images, one photo of the interior has also been leaked, showing what appears to be a small, yet functional (and nicely appointed) cabin. Early reports suggested that the new small Jeep would be based on the Fiat 500L platform, though Jalopnik rightly points out that the Renegade looks an awful lot like the Panda 4x4. Regardless, there's still likely some 500L bones under there, and we'll know more once the official details are revealed in the very near future.
Head over to Jalopnik for more shots of the cute little Renegade, and stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
Thu, 27 Feb 2014 13:00:00 EST
After their rented 2007 Hummer H3 failed them during the brutal Rallye Aicha des Gazelles in Morocco, Amy Lerner and her sister Tricia Reina were on a quest to find the most capable production off-roader for their next competition - they chose a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. Their next mission was to find a company with the competence to configure it to win. After poring over Internet forums and perusing countless magazines for an outfitter who could meet their demanding requirements, they sent their bright orange JK ("Crush" is the official color) to American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) for some modifications.
The Michigan-based team at AEV kept the Jeep's 3.6-liter V6 and automatic transmission stock, but replaced the hood with a tall AEV Heat Reduction Hood and added an AEV Snorkel Kit for water crossings (it serves double-duty as its raised height helps to keep the air intake out of the kicked-up dust on the trail). Front and rear off-road bumpers were bolted in place, and AEV skid plates were added to provide additional undercarriage protection. A pair of IPF-900 off-road lights improve visibility, while a 10.2-gallon AEV Fuel Caddy (located behind the exterior spare) added some range. The suspension was upgraded with a 3.5-inch lift kit with Bilstein remote reservoir shocks, and 35-inch Falken Wildpeak A/T tires (LT285/70R17) were mounted at all four corners on AEV's beadlock wheels.
Consumer Reports has announced its annual list of worst vehicles, a cringe-inducing contrast to its list of top vehicles. Ignominiously leading the way in 2014 is Chrysler, which has a staggering seven models listed.
Jeep nearly sweeps the small SUV segment by itself, with its Compass, Patriot and 2.4-liter version of the new Cherokee, while the only midsize sedans listed by CR were the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger. The new Dodge Dart and the Dodge Journey round out CR's condemnation of Chrysler.
Ford is taking heat as well, with the Taurus, Edge and their counterparts from Lincoln all listed as the worst vehicles in their respective segments. Toyota doesn't fare much better, with its Lexus IS, Scion iQ and tC also making the list.
Consumer Reports has released its 2014 Car Brand Report Cards, with Lexus again reigning at the top and doing so with the same industry-topping score of 79 that it registered in last year's Report Cards. This year, the institute credited its lineup for being "usually quiet, comfortable, and fuel-efficient," noting it's the only brand on the list "to achieve an excellent average overall reliability score." The Car Brand Report Cars list is meant to rank the best all-around vehicles based on CR testing and reliability results tallied by subscribers it surveyed. Each brand included must have sufficient test and reliability data for at least three models, a standard which left out 11 marques including Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover and Porsche.
This 2014 Brand Report Cars edition is the first of a new format in which sub-brands have been broken out from their parent brands, with Acura using this year to move up the leaderboard into second place with a score of 75 for its "reliable, well-finished and somewhat sporty models." The top three was rounded out by Audi, climbing from eighth to third by scoring a 74 for "well-crafted interiors, nice handling and good gas mileage." Audi scored highest in the road-test portion, its improved reliability aiding its rise. The top nine was completed by Subaru, Toyota, Mazda, Honda, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz.
Ford and Jeep weighed in at the other end of the rankings, Jeep taking the lowest overall score in the road tests and hampered by "a mix of spotty reliability." Ford was sunk by reliability issues with its MyFord Touch infotainment system which consumers found troublesome enough to negate its cars earning "solid test scores" for being "very nice to drive." Perhaps the rumored switch from Microsoft to Blackberry's QNX for the next generation SYNC will help them out. Cadillac's score also took a hit for infotainment reasons after it was the leading US brand last year, the CUE system in the XTS dragging Cadillac to the bottom of all General Motors brands.
Maserati has been teasing its crossover project since 2011, which is when it first showed off the Kubang concept (pictured above). Still, the production version, rumored to be called the Levante, remains a complete mystery. The CUV was first rumored to borrow the platform from the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but new rumors indicate that the Italian, luxury crossover might actually take the underpinnings from the Quattroporte and Ghibli.
In a brief interview, Maserati CEO Harald Wester told CNN Money that the Levante wouldn't use Jeep's platform. Motor Trend spoke with an unnamed Maserati engineer who confirmed the rumor. Officially, the company says that no decision has been made.
We can add this to another long list of rumors about the Italian CUV. It was originally supposed to be built at Chrysler's Jefferson North assembly plant in Detroit. Then, plans were changed to build it in Italy.
Consumer Reports has just rendered its verdict on two of the more important cars to launch this year - the Mazda3 and the Jeep Cherokee. Considering the value a "Recommended" rating carries with the public and the viciously competitive markets these two cars compete in, Consumer Reports' view could have some impact on their initial success.
For Mazda, that's a good thing. CR spoke quite highly of the Zoom-Zoom brand's compact sedan and hatch, testing both models, and citing the excellent fuel economy and snickety-snack manual shifter as high points. Downsides to the 3 included a ride that is agile but "nervous," a bit too much noise and a cramped back seat. Still, the 3 was good enough to earn its place in the ranks of the "Recommended."
The Jeep didn't fare quite so well, with CR calling the polarizing CUV "half-baked." Although both engines were tested, the magazine called the 2.4-liter four-pot underpowered and its nine-speed automatic unrefined and unresponsive. That's particularly damning, considering the 9AT's role in future Chrysler products, including the extremely important 200. Overall, the Cherokee missed out on the coveted "Recommended" rating.
We've known for some time that the new, Fiat-based baby Jeep (which may or may not be called the Jeepster) is set to arrive at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. What we weren't sure of was whether its platform mate, the so-called Fiat 500X, would be doing so alongside or at a later date. Well, according to Reuters, we'll get to see the first all-wheel-drive 500 later this year in the City of Lights.
Yes, we can expect the 500X to arrive at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, according to an official with an Italian trade union. The unnamed source cited retooling at Fiat's Melfi factory, in southern Italy, which currently produces the Grande Punto. It's expected that the newest member of the growing 500 family will replace the Suzuki SX4-based Fiat Sedici, although when the X will go on sale remains an open question.
According to Reuters, both the Jeepster and 500X will be built alongside each other in Italy. Whether the 500X will cross the pond with it's slat-grilled cousin, though, remains to be seen (we're leaning towards yes).