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Jeep’s Renegade sounds tough, but it looks a little more on the cute and scrappy side

Maybe this Chrysler/FIAT relationship is working out after all. Or, at least this week’s announcement at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show proves that the Jeep Wrangler has spent a night or two in the FIAT 500L garage.

Behold, the 2015 Jeep Renegade: an Italian-American lovechild if we’ve ever seen one.

We’re not yet sure whether to call it a rugged little FIAT or a porky little Jeep, but there’s no question that the Renegade rings through as spunky, cutesy compact SUV. The folks at Chrysler tell us that it was designed by Americans in the Jeep division, but engineered by Italians at FIAT. That means Jeep’s familiar seven-slatted grille is present, as are the headlights that seem to pulled directly from the Wrangler. The rest seems to be a new direction for the brand’s design, though. We suspect, aside from some Jeep-y looks, it’s all FIAT Panda underneath.

There are a few quirky, cool elements to the Renegade that we really dig, too. For example, it appears that the reverse and rear turn signal lights are housed in X-shaped casings, which closer concept car styling than most vehicles on the road today, and we’re pretty fond of the new My Sky roof systems. For those who just want to remove the roof to see the sky, they can choose the manual option. While folks looking for a motorized sunroof can have that, too – points for versatility, if nothing else.

Inside, there are a variety of available colors, including trim pieces in red, orange or silver, and shoppers can choose between cloth and leather seating surfaces. Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system is also available, which will allow drivers to map out road ahead or change the radio station, all through a touch screen.

Mechanically speaking, there are pieces of both brands under the hood. While the Renegade will receive a whole slew of engine options globally, we’ll have a choice of FIAT’s 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder, or the 1.4-liter MultiAir turbocharged four-cylinder. Those engines are mated to either a six-speed manual transmission, or a nine-speed automatic. Models powered by the 2.4-liter engine will come standard with front-wheel drive, while 1.4-liter turbo models will offer Jeep’s Active Drive 4×4 system with Active Drive Low settings.

Jeep claims that this 4×4 system will be the toughest, most rugged available in the Renegade’s compact SUV segment, making it one of the only petite crossovers that can truly go anywhere.

We’re just looking forward to the day that we’re tossed the keys, so we can see exactly how far into the woods it can go.

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