Its officially time to put on my nerd hat and start speculating regarding the new Renegade.
Here are a few things that caught my eye that I want to speculate on:
8.7" of ground clearance
Jeep Active Drive Low (20:1 crawl ratio)
Up to 1,500 kg (3,300-lb.) towing capability with MultiJet II diesel engine and 907 kg (2,000-lb.) towing capability with 2.4-liter Tigershark engine, with available tow package
The bad news about the KL Cherokee is a lack of aftermarket lift support, this is due mostly to the lack of camber adjustment on the strut, lower control arm, or hub. The Renegade is built on the 500L platform which, as far as I can tell, uses a double bolt strut mount with camber adjustment. This means so long as the CV angles aren't too severe, lifting is a function of spring height and damper stroke, that's good news as it means that some spring spacers, or top coil spacers can net a cheap and easy 1.5 to 2 inch lift for bigger tires.
I want to bring this up only because it annoys me: Wheel articulation =/= spring travel. The Renegade has a maximum of 8.1 inches of wheel travel in the rear springs (a little less up front) and while its not technically incorrect to label this as articulation, its misleading as most people in the off road world reserves that term to mean the amount of flex a suspension system has on a diagonal, usually measured with a ramp travel index score (RTI) which measures how far up a 20 degree ramp you can go with one wheel before the opposite rear wheel leaves the ground, factoring in wheelbase.
I don't expect the Renegade to do much better as far as articulation than the KL Cherokee, which should be in the low to mid 300's, or...not great. That being said, 8.1 is a lot of travel, which bodes well for soaking up bumps off road and giving a relatively compliant ride.
8.7 Inches ground clearance
In today's world, that's really great. Its the same as a Cherokee trailhawk, and its the same as a Subaru Forester 2.5i which, despite being larger, will be the primary comparison vehicle for those with offroad/softroad ambitions I suspect. 8.7 is plenty for dirt roads, forest service roads and cart track type roads, but its not going to be enough to take into all places that have "4 wheel drive only" signs, not without being very careful at least.
Jeep Active Drive Low (20:1 crawl ratio)
This is an interesting number. Lets explore it a little by considering what "low range" really means. Typically low range refers to a set of reducing gears after the transmission that multiplies the output by a factor, usually in the 2-2.5 range (sometimes as high as 4-5). This means that if you had a 5 speed in high range, you have a 10 speed between high and low range, though like a 21 speed bike you don't actually use them all (you wouldn't, for example go low range 5th speed).
I don't think the Renegade has low range, and here's why.
What I think the low range, in the renegade, is the ZF9HP28's 4.84:1 1st gear, combined with a Trailhawk exclusive 4.13 final drive for a 20:1 1st gear ratio. Its basically the same trick you get with the Patriot's Freedom Drive II which nets you 19:1, you just get a little more because the ZF9HP28 has a greater ratio spread. The Cherokee Trailhawk pulls a similar trick with a lower final drive ratio exclusive to the Trailhawk, but the distinction is that it has another set of gears (2 other sets actually) that further reduce the ratio of all the gears in the box as opposed to just having 1st gear be really low. The Subaru forester also pulls a similar trick with its "X-Mode" but you only end up with a 14.4:1 "crawl" ratio.
The downside is that you really don't get "low range", which means that 2nd gear "low range" is just your normal 1st gear and there is nothing special about it. The upside is that its lighter and easier to do it and you still have 9 real ratios and with the 177 ft-lbs from the tigershark 2.4 that means 3540 ft-lbs of torque multiplication @ 4400 rpm, which isn't bad really. For reference, my FZJ80 land cruisers lowest crawl ratio is 28.9:1, and even with low range I still only have 8 real ratios. 28-30:1 is pretty close to what you get in wranglers without the rockcrawling ratio in the transfer case. Ask hard core Patriot owners (they're out there) about FDII and most of them will tell you its plenty for a light duty machine like this.
When I test drove the Forester XT I was really disappointed that the tow rating had dropped from 2400 lbs to 1500 lbs. According to the salesperson this was because most forester customers weren't towing more than 1000 lbs, and those people only occasional, and I think he's right. 2000 lbs is par for the course in this segment (and actually a little more since this is technically a segment below the Forester/rav4/crv, etc) and so I think its plenty. 2000 lbs its still a lot of camping gear in a light trailer.
I Don't care, and neither should you. I think Jeep did, and is doing, an admirable job expanding their lineup to meet with modern demands while maintaining core Jeep attributes of being better than the industry standard for ruggedness and capability. Nice work Jeep team, you deserve seom credit here.