First Italy-built Jeep has GM platform roots

  • 04-Mar-2014 12:40 EST
JeepRenegade and Trailhawk.jpg

2015 Jeep Renegade (left) and off-road-capable Trailhawk model are key to Fiat Chrysler's strategy to expand the Jeep brand globally.

One of the stars of the 2014 Geneva Motor Show is the subcompact 2015 Jeep Renegade, the first model in Jeep history to be based on a platform co-developed by Opel and made in Italy.

Fiat Chrysler calls the Renegade’s architecture “Small-Wide 4x4.” It’s a modular design capable of supporting front- and four-wheel-drive layouts on a range of wheelbase, track, front overhang, and overall lengths and widths, and will be shared with the upcoming Fiat 500X crossover also slated for the Melfi plant.

The platform originally was developed in the early 2000s during the ill-fated former GM-Fiat alliance, when it was known internally as SCCS (Small Common Components and Systems). It debuted in 2005 on the Fiat Grande Punto and Opel Corsa.

Riding on a 101.2-in (2570-mm) wheelbase, with 60.6-in (1540-mm) front and rear tracks, the Renegade is a key product in Fiat Chrysler’s strategy to fully globalize the Jeep brand. The “baby Jeep” will be sold in more than 100 global markets with one of the industry’s most comprehensive powertrain offerings.

Depending on market, Renegade will be available with 16 powertrain based around 1.4-, 1.6-, and 2.4-L naturally aspirated and turbocharged gasoline four-cylinder engines as well as 1.6- and 2.0-L turbodiesels. Transmissions are the ZF-developed 948TE nine-speed planetary automatic; the Fiat-sourced C635 triple-shaft six-speed DCT; plus five- and six-speed manuals. There are two Active Drive 4x4 systems, including one with low range for rock-crawling Trailhawk models. It is the first vehicle in its segment with a rear-axle disconnect for improved on-road fuel efficiency.

70% advanced HSS structure

Achieving a high degree of body stiffness and mass efficiency, at moderate cost, was a primary bogey of the Renegade program. Program engineers specified 70% advanced high-strength steel—the most of any Jeep model to date—in the body-in-white. The structure uses hot-stamped alloys in the upper- and under-body, A- and B-pillars (which allows a thinner cross section for improved driver visibility), front header, sills, and rails. Renegade features an aluminum hood, front cross-beam, and mixed materials rear crash box.

Engineers focused on suspension-to-body structure and body-to-cradle attachments to ensure high stiffness at those points with the goal of minimizing low-frequency noise into the cabin. Fiat Chrysler also is increasing its use of structural adhesives on this program.

The fully independent suspension uses McPherson struts, coil springs, and high-strength steel “double shell” lower control arms for the Renegade 4x4, and high-strength steel “mono shell” lower control arms for the 4x2 version, which includes a front stabilizer bar. A specially designed front crossmember serves dual roles—it provides rigidity to achieve greater acoustic comfort, and it integrates a third-load line to improve energy absorption in the event of a crash.

The rear suspension is by Chapman strut, with two lateral links and half shafts, coil springs and stabilizer, and high-strength steel links. The 4x4 models have an isolated steel rear cradle, while front-drive Renegades have a solid-mounted rear cradle. According to Fiat Chrysler engineers, the 4x4 suspension provides up to 205 mm (8.1 in) of wheel articulation and 220 mm (8.7 in) of ground clearance.

A new split-type shock absorber mounting transmits road vibrations to the body structure through two different routes for improved acoustics and better shock-absorber efficiency.

Available for the first time on a Jeep is a Koni frequency-selective damping (FSD) front strut and rear shock absorber system. This damping system actively filters out high-frequency suspension inputs from uneven road surfaces and adjusts for ride comfort while maintaining excellent ride control, Jeep engineers claim.

The electronic power steering system (EPS) is steering-column mounted. It is claimed to provide up to a 3% improvement in fuel efficiency compared with a conventional hydraulic system.

New “Open Sky” roof system

Renegade introduces a new Jeep feature, the segment-exclusive “My Sky” open-air roof system featuring lightweight (Jeep claims) honeycomb-fiberglass polyurethane roof panels. My Sky is available with a manual removable or premium power tilt/slide feature. When removed, the panels are designed to stow in the rear cargo area.

The vehicle offers 12.4 ft³ (350 L) of useful interior cargo volume, 30.7 ft³ (869 L) with the rear seats folded flat. A new fold-forward front seat enables the Renegade to accommodate up to a 5-ft (1.5-m) ladder.

Fiat Chrysler engineers attacked cabin NVH with laminated acoustic windshield glass, body-cavity silencing foam, under-flush rolled-framed doors with triple seals, and acoustic wheel-well liners to absorb road noise and quiet the cabin.

The comprehensive safety-technology suite includes new forward-collision warning that deploys brakes to alert the driver about impact risk and assists with driver response. LaneSense Departure Warning leverages the EPS to deliver a torque-input to alert and assist the driver with corrective action.

On the HMI front, Renegade offers Chrysler Uconnect infotainment and has the segment’s largest full-color instrument cluster display, with an available 7-in reconfigurable screen.

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