Not designed by Homer – Jeep renegade

For those of you that may have been living on an Island, since what seems like the dawn of time; The Simpsons has been a TV comedy cartoon show that depicts a working class American family going about their ordinary (and often extraordinary) lives. It was originally screened on the Tracy Ullman show (as the Simpson shorts) in 1987 before its popularity meant that it splintered off to its own show in 1989. Over the years it has achieved cult status as the beloved family’s exploits have been piped into our homes on such regularity that it’s almost impossible to find a day without it appearing on at least one channel.

The Father of the family is ‘Homer’ a bungling hero who’s heart is unquestionably in the right place (regardless of how he goes about his life). In virtually every episode he is thrown into a new situation that means he has to adapt, rethink (ok that’s questionable) and adjust both his view and attitude to get through. Evidently thoughts of Homer and the memory of one specific episode came flooding back the moment I slapped eyes on the Jeep Renegade ‘Trailhawk’.

In an episode titled ‘Oh Brother; where art thou’, Homer’s incredibly successful – and head of a major car company – half brother Herb (voiced by Danny De Vito) bursts onto the scene. In true Simpsons style homer is somehow given the chance to design his own car, a car for the people, a car for the average schmo, a car that suited him perfectly – a car called ‘The Homer’. The Homer boasts tail Fins and bubble domes and of course a cup holder big enough to hold his litre sized slurpee cup.

Ok, so the new Jeep Renegade has (thankfully) none of the ‘Homer’ design cues but Jeep did approach the design in the same way. In a stroke of genius, Jeep gave the design pen to a ‘younger’ team of designers and told them to ‘create a small SUV that they themselves would aspire to own’. What they came up with is an SUV that combines the brand’s Jeep Renegade/Willys MB Jeep Heritage and yet has a fresh youthful new look (and appeal).

Although (at first glance) the Renegade has a softer more rounded visage, from the front it is unmistakably Jeep. With its signature seven slot grille

and body colour vertical windscreen. Short overhangs and trapezoidal wheel arches (with plenty of clearance) ensure that the SUV is easy to maneuver (city and country) and – as should be expected coming from Jeep – is best in class off road. This is something that has been endorsed by it displaying the ‘Trail Rated’ stamp. There is plenty more Jeep heritage to be found round the back too, it has Jeep shield shaping and X

embossed Wrangler style tail lights (the X paying homage to the Jerry Cans carried by the 1941 Willy’s). A quirky thing to note too; is that if you look closely, there are tiny images of the Jeep and its roots dotted around the body and glasswork – you can get your kids to have their own little adventure without leaving the garage – I believe there are 40 of them but don’t quote me.

The design team went tech crazy on the inside and added a raft of gizmo’s and gadgets that would normally only be seen in very expensive SUV’s. Uconnect comes to you via a 7” full colour touch screen and it has more than 60 advanced safety features including reverse camera. Sound has been brought to you by ‘Beats’ aptly suited to the Jeep and the market they are targeting. They didn’t skimp on the interior materials either, it’s a mix of soft and tactile, form and function – the result is something they have named ‘Tek-Tonic’. There’s a touch of humour there too; the instrument dial has a bit of mud design added to the high end.

Under the bonnet, they have opted for a 2.4L Tigershark engine that is clamped to a 9 speed auto transmission. It produces 129kW’s and 230Nm, 0-100 in 8.4 seconds and has a combined economy of 7.5L/100.

Unfortunately I didn’t get chance to take the Renegade off-road (I really must get a farm) so I cannot overly comment on its adeptness; however Jeep do boast it being best in class in off road capability and it apparently has aggressive approach and departure angles, 428.6mm water fording and a 20:1 crawl ratio – one thing though, the seats are not figure hugging and I would assume that anything rough would have you bouncing around a little.

The Jeep Renegade is bags of fun to drive around and is evidently more than capable both on and off road. For the adventurous among you, it has plenty of energy to get you up and down the mountains and for the less than wild, it handles the town with ease. I think it would great at beach with a surfboard strapped to the roof too! It has more than enough space to carry your gear and too much space for your weekly shop.

Homer didn’t quite get it right with his overall look but some of his ideas were bang on the money. The Jeep renegade ‘Trailhawk’ is a great example of giving the market something they want while staying true to the brand’s heritage. It’s a mix of fresh eyes and old heads. Turn up the Beats and bring on the trail!

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