Jeep is taking the Renegade on the road. The compact crossover is the newest vehicle coming to the lineup and a very global-focused car, to boot. It goes on sale in Europe first and then in the U.S. early next year. What is it? Well, it competes directly in the world of c-segment crossovers like Kia Soul and Nissan Juke. And it has the two-box look that characterizes the segment, with the Jeep slotted grill and big, eyes-open headlamps. What it doesn’t have is the uncompromising geometry of its sibling, the Wrangler.
Jim Morrison, head of Jeep product marketing, tells Marketing Daily that the vehicle is meant to bring in younger buyers, those looking for a Jeep that is more affordable than Wrangler, a vehicle whose price tag includes the cost of slaking its thirst for gas, an issue the company is planning to address with the next model. It is also an issue that has something to do with those hard angles and steep windshield that defines it. He says getting the 30 mpg rating for Renegade required a lot of work in the wind tunnel. "Renegade is for active people who are younger and also looking for that lower price point," he says.
He says that the buyer is going to be a lot like people shopping Wrangler, which he argues is not a niche vehicle. "We are seeing broad appeal with Wrangler, and we expect a little of that same reaction with Renegade."
Morrison says grass roots and auto shows will be a big part of the marketing leading up to the Q1 launch next year, as well as digital. "That's true for the whole Jeep brand; we do lots of digital because of the Jeep family of owners. We have three million Facebook fans, the highest number of any manufacturer. And these are customers for life."
Product development for the vehicle included going to Wrangler loyalists to gauge the virtues of the vehicle as a "true Jeep," per Morrison. Besides the key Jeep design cues there is also an "X" motif at various places on the car, meant to evoke the same device found on World War Two jerry cans.
Morrison says the company will also promote the car at auto shows with its Camp Jeep exhibition where attendees can test drive vehicles on off-road structures meant to simulate off-road and Rubicon-type driving. Morrison says capability like this is still a cornerstone of the brand's appeal even though most people stay on pavement. "Every owner takes their Jeep off-road, even if it's only in their mind."
The car, which comes in four variants — the Sport value-oriented model; the Latitude, which is the high volume car; the Ltd premium model; and the Trail Hawk trail-rated vehicle — fills a gap left by the discontinued Liberty crossover. Morrison says the Patriot and Compass vehicles continue, giving Jeep a six-vehicle lineup, including Cherokee and Grand Cherokee.