In 2015, automotive journalist Pablo González got a Jeep Renegade to lock its brakes so hard the rear wheels lifted off the ground. Jeep told him that car was broken, and he wasn’t able to repeat the problem with other Renegades. But now it’s starting to look like the issue might not be so isolated.
Update: FCA has issued this official statement on the matter:
“The Jeep Renegade, which features Electronic Roll Mitigation and Electronic Stability Control as standard equipment, meets or exceeds all mandated safety requirements. The Company is investigating the circumstances surrounding these demonstrations.”
It’s also worth clarifying that the vehicles in these tests are European-spec cars which have different drivetrains from American Renegades and more significantly, run a different (allegedly “stickier”) standard tire. That said there are several different tire options on both U.S. and UK-spec vehicles. We can’t tell what rubber the red test car is running, but the green one (in the subsequent test) is on Bridgestone Turanzas according to video uploader km77.com.
Regardless, I don’t know if I believe the stock tires on an economy car would be so grippy that they’d overcome the weight of the vehicle and get the rear end off the ground. Hence, my interest in these videos.
On Spanish the car site km77.com, González recounts his experience with the brakes in an early-build 1.6-liter, front-wheel drive 2015 Jeep Renegade. Translated from Spanish:
“The body leaned forward, nothing strange, it was expected. But [it] continued to lean and reached a point where the sky disappeared from my horizon. All I saw was asphalt and asphalt, moving quickly before my eyes. Despite this I kept stepping on the pedal with all my strength. I had the feeling that the rear wheels were in the air, which surprised me to not feel any blow when they returned to [the ground.] I stopped the car and I was thinking, puzzled, if what he had felt was true.”
So he set up a couple cameras and repeated the experiment. Turns out, yeah, the rear end was coming off the ground. A lot.
González writes that he reached out to Fiat Group Spain, and he said the division had technicians inspect the vehicle. They were able to find a malfunction with the brake hydraulics that had caused way too much stopping power to be sent to the front, González reported.
After testing two other Renegades, González apparently couldn’t replicate the epic nosedive so he was satisfied that he had happened to be driving a broken car. Until last month.
There’s some similar, albeit less extreme, reverse-wheelie action happening with a newer Renegade with a totally different drivetrain—this time one with four-wheel drive and the 2.0-liter engine.
The Renegade’s quick-lane-change performance, sometimes known as “The Moose Test,” doesn’t look too hot either.
Watch the little Jeep run this gauntlet at about 45 mph, around 01:25 in. The thing loses its composure trying to make its way around those cones and catches air time on the inside rear wheel.
It is important to note here that we’re not measuring braking in the “moose test;” it’s an application of the vehicle’s stability control and balance. I have been told that lifting a wheel, even two wheels, does not constitute failure as far as NCAP compliance is concerned. Though lane-change test administrators Vehico define a passing grade as making it through the gauntlet without knocking down any cones.
The Jeep Renegade has been out for a decent amount of time now. Tens of thousands have been sold. I’ve driven several Jeep Renegades myself and never experienced such a failure to maneuver, which is absolutely what we’re looking at. My experiences testing this vehicle have been mostly positive.
And yet after about 60 seconds of cursory research on the matter and I found another Renegade, with another driver, in an entirely different country, doing the same rear-end-lift routine under panic braking. Skip to about 9:40 in the video below to see what I’m talking about.
All I’m saying right now is we have video evidence of three unrelated Renegades performing extremely poorly under duress. It now seems likely that what we’re observing here is limited to Jeeps configured for other markets, and of course between FCA’s statement and the fact that these cars are legally being sold means they’ve ostensibly passed crash compliance regulations in both the United States and Europe.
We’re still looking into the specifics respective government’s rules on lane-change maneuvering performance but as it stands, the Renegade is five out of five-star rated by Europe’s car safety sanctioning body EURO CAP and four out of five-stars on the American NHTSA’s scale with a low 23 percent rollover risk.
As for the brakes specifically, the Renegade didn’t seem to have any trouble stopping safely with is collision mitigation system in EURO CAP’s test:
So, any of you Renegade owners ever accidentally rip a stoppie?