The moment I saw the Jeep Renegade I knew it was a winner, at least in terms of styling. The Renegade’s “face” is exactly what small 21st-century Jeeps should look like. It has loads of Jeep’s visual heritage DNA – important! – that has been brought up-to-date in the best possible way. (Now if only they could graft that face on to the new-ish Cherokee…).
Where the Renegade falls short is what’s under the skin. Thanks to misguided marketing, it is saddled with a rather unremarkable USA-spec 2.4L four, undersized tires, so-so ground clearance, an iffy 9-speed automatic, and a questionable (available) low range. I don’t mind the independent suspension; in fact I embrace it, as IFS/IRS is the future in terms of off-road suspension design.
So, for me, the Renegade is a close-but-no-cigar vehicle, at least as it currently stands. This new Comanche, however, shows how the Renegade can evolve; both as a 4-door SUV, and in terms of how spin-off models can be developed. Big beefy tires, flared out fenders, and great ground clearance are the main ingredients that make this work visually. Still wish for a 3.6L V6 under the hood, but the 2.0L diesel isn’t a bad alternative.
Anyway, I think a Comanche pickup makes more sense than the predicted Wrangler-based pickup. Why? I’m not big on retro-vehicles in general. Rarely do they survive long term. Besides, the Comanche would be far more civilized and livable. I could see this Comanche pickup as a daily driver much more so than a Wrangler-based pickup. Yeah, I like and value creature comforts over ultimate off-road ability. I think most pickup buyers would agree. Finally, while there is a large devoted Wrangler following who would love a Wrangler-based pickup, I bet this Renegade-based Comanche would bring more new customers into the Jeep tent – especially over a much wider age demographic.