Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Jeep of Faith

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Jeep of Faith

Article excerpt

Byline: Enda Mullen

JEEP'S legendary status as the original SUV manufacturer has faded in recent years and while rivals like Land Rover have dominated at the upper end of the market, the seemingly unstoppable march of the crossover at the more mainstream end has also had an effect.

In a fast-changing and highly competitive automotive landscape the marque which started the SUV ball rolling with its Willys Jeep - famously used by the allies in the Second World War - could have been heading for the history books for a different reason.

Its biggest problem in recent times were the financial woes faced by parent company Chrysler Group.

That would now seem to be at an end with the completion of Fiat's gradual takeover of the once all powerful US firm - a process that got under way in 2009.

In terms of the Renegade, it's a partnership that's proved vital to the continuation and evolution of the Jeep brand. It might seem hard to believe but this is the first all-new Jeep to break cover in a decade.

A number of other firsts also apply; it's the first Jeep produced jointly by Americans and Europeans and is also the first Jeep to be made outside the US - in Italy.

It's also a vital car for the brand going forward given the rise of the crossover and the fact that - until last year - Jeep wasn't really competing in this fast-growing segment.

Not surprisingly, the Renegade sticks to a tried and tested SUV design blueprint.

This is no curvaceous crossover but rather a chunky and boxy 4x4 that shouts utilitarian workhorse.

It probably makes sense. People like a lot of things about crossovers but the higher driving position and a rugged SUV-style presence are key among them and the Renegade has both by the bucket-load.

It may be competing against cars like the Nissan Qashqai but it has much more of the look and feel of a 'proper' SUV, even down to the way you feel like you really are stepping up to get into the cabin. …

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