Chameleons can change to almost any colour in as little as 20 seconds. That’s not the case with our Jeep, which took three months. But this had less to do with skin pigmentation and everything to do with user error. For the record, I wasn’t to blame.
Donald – our flashy orange Jeep that debuted in the September issue of Wheels Magazine – was damaged while not in our care, so we welcome a replacement Renegade to the Wheels garage. This one wears a beige power suit (Mojave Sands), a slight rattle in her chest, and a few technological glitches. So of course we’ve called her Hillary.
We’ve spent the month bonding, as she arrived just in time for a country run. We’re pleased to report it’s been mostly positive.
The Renegade drives better than you’d expect. Where most Jeeps take to corners like cats to water, Hillary is more than willing to lock on to an apex and have a crack without scraping its side mirrors on the bitumen. Its Italian underpinnings – it’s a mechanical twin to the Fiat 500X – may have something to do with that.
It seems Jeep’s stylists have taken a course in optical illusions because the Renegade looks like it’s taken a spin through a dryer, but once you get inside, it’s more plentiful than a magical dinner in the Great Hall (one for all you Harry Potter fans).
I’ve also been appreciative of the heated seats and steering wheel through a chilly Melbourne spring. The fact this got more of a workout than the optional sunroof doesn’t sit well with me.
Technology doesn’t seem to be Hillary’s strongest campaign weapon. The infotainment system suffers from irregular blackouts; it’s only for a moment, and very occasionally, but enough to put you off-balance mid-staccato. And the parking sensors are a worry, the merest provocation making them beep like Geiger counters in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.
But the thing that has me baffled most is that, although it’s pint-sized, the Renegade loves a drink. Jeep claims 7.5L/100km combined, but we’ve racked up 12.8. Gulp. Granted, aside from a trip to spa country and a few stints on gravel roads in the Dandenongs, it has spent most of its time driving around South Yarra. And that’s enough to drive anyone to drink.
This Renegade is the top-of-the-line Trailhawk edition and we’re champing at the bit to hit some fire trails. After all, it has a world-class all-wheel-drive system and something tells us the little Jeep is hungry for mud. It might be twinned with a Fiat, but it has a Jeep badge – it might be able to change its colour, but not its stripes.
First published in the Summer 2016 issue of Wheels Magazine.