Handling? Road noise? Crash safety? Grand Cherokees from 10-15 years ago will spank the new Renegade in every single one of these categories. I'll give you fuel economy....but the fuel economy of the Renegade is NOT going to be as awesome as some here expect.
Yes, they have no choice but to step out of the box a little...but anything with a Jeep name stuck on it should at very least be a capable vehicle off the pavement and this thing will drag it's belly over some railroad crossings I pass daily. It's a joke.
Ask yourself this: why do people still buy, build, and cherish 20 and 25 year old Jeeps (and not just the Wrangler) in 2014? Because Jeep had something nobody else ever did...solid axles, flexy suspension, offroad angles that got the job done all while doing so in comfort and style. Who will be looking for a 2014 Renegade in 2034? Absolutely nobody. Why? Because the Renegade is exactly like every single other vehicle in the category. There is no longer anything setting Jeep apart. Yes, offroad ability IS the gold standard metric that should be adhered to.
Like I've said before, the Renegade is going to appeal to a lot of people. I myself am intrigued a bit which is why I am here. But the more details we see about this, the more I'm convinced that it's very much diluting the Jeep brand.
So Jeep is on a downward spiral if they build anything cheaper than a grand cherokee, except something that looks like a <=92 wrangler?
Also of note, people cherishing your 25 year old product doesn't make you money. I've babied a beloved 25 year old car. Here's a tip, 99.99999999999999999999999% of cars ever made are not interchangeable for that beloved 25 year old car. I wouldn't have traded my 69 'cuda for a wrangler of any vintage. I DID have to bite the bullet and realize there'd be money for a reliable and fun daily driver, but not enough to restore it to the point it would be reliable enough to be the only ride.
I would also never try to collect the 88 camry I owned for a while, but I had a bunch of fun in it, and liked it well enough. Gave it to my aunt after her car got killed in a flood, and she liked it too, and bought another toyota when the next flood killed that one at around 280k miles. (then thankfully moved to someplace less floody). It doesn't have to be a classic, just be well liked, move units, and hopefully keep buyers attached to the brand. The world will not end if those buyers don't give a hoot about off-roading. Making off-roading the gold standard for the brand? They have been there. There's a reason there are new owners multiple times over for the brand. Keeping really small populations of people who get bent out of shape about the fact a brand offers something they don't like that appeals to others placated isn't a business strategy. Accept they make it, and if you want to make noise, make noise about keeping the wrangler line alive and capable rather than frothing at the mouth about how dare they put MY brand on something not approved of by ME.
I will also note that a 10 year old grand cherokee with 100k miles on it seems to sell for about $9-10k. I don't consider that a deal. I will also point out it has a marginal rating for side impact. It's roll over test was not so great, it has no LATCH system, and no dynamic head restraints or adjustable belt mounts. Not even in 2010 when it went away. I'm not sure why you are confident it will "spank" a vehicle you have yet to meet in person on any category other than off road capability? I'll also point out the 2.4l engine only gives up 25 hp to the base v6 and 50hp to the v8. It's less, but do you think the curb weight will be 4400lbs? The cherokee shaves off about 400 lbs from it, I suspect the renegade will shave at least a few more. It'll also have a lower cneter of gravity more than likely and handle better. Unless of course your metric is once again off-roading.
Of course, given that the whole trail rated thing was a way of life... an ethos... rather than simply a marketing campaign and a general engineering trend, that explains why they never sold anything but a 4x4 trim level, right?
I truly don't understand what people thing getting their panties all in a wad over the renegade's existence will actually do and why it is important to them. It's a brand. Who cares. They also slap it on strollers and radios and a bunch of other things. I can understand why they advocate for the core abilities of the wrangler model when they say it has to compete for a broader audience. THat doesn't mean that it has to be made a soft roader, but it does mean that it might have to step up it's game with regards to absolutely every other aspect of owning a car that it is fairly mediocre at (and I'm being kind there).
Also, when I suggest that to keep to the off-raoding first and only ethos, that the brand would have to get REALLY expensive, go look at land rover. They tried that and are still not a healthy company. Trying to go that path with the brand would mean that their vehicles would still essentially vanish form the market for the vast majority of fans of the brand.