2020 Jeep Gladiator: Adventure Driven

The compelling moniker of Jeep’s latest machine sounds like a newly introduced hero from Avengers: End Game. While off-roading through the outskirts of Sacramento Automotive Rhythms discovered the beastly nature of the 2020 midsize Jeep Gladiator while simultaneously witnessing its powerful capabilities in various scenarios such as scaling down trails of boulders and creeping through mud like navy seals. After experiencing dozens of 4×4 adventures from Jeep and other truck brands, the Gladiator is like a chess grandmaster utilizing strategic power moves during the endgame to outmaneuver the competition. [Read more…]

Jeep Lifestyles with the all-new 2018 Wrangler

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

When all hell hits the fan it would be in your best interest to posses the keys to a Jeep, preferably the 2018 Wrangler. The goal is to get away swiftly and discretely in a 4×4 with the versatility to triumph any terrain that leads to salvation. That’s probably what the armed forces thought 75 years ago. As the story goes Willys-Overland’s beat out Bantam and Ford in 1941 as the principle supplier of the U.S. Army’s 1,500 go-anywhere and structurally rigid reconnaissance vehicles. Later the world would come to know this quintessential 4×4 as the Jeep. [Read more…]

2017 Jeep Compass: Small Impact

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Branded after its big brother Jeep Grand Cherokee the all-new Compass compact SUV is rough, rugged and raw; well, at least on the outside. Step inside and the small wonder continues to surprise with modern gadgetry, telematics, and advanced safety features. Jeep lifers expect their utilities to handle active lifestyle adventures with aplomb whether on domestic grounds or international terrain. Although small, the Detroit native is as multi-purpose as a Victorinox Swiss Army knife with one exception to the rule; it’s an All-American. [Read more…]

12th Annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year Winners Announced

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Winners include a four-peat and some surprises / Photos by Mark Elias

The twelfth annual Carspondent.com Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards program is proud to announce the winners of this year’s event. Among the winners were the Kia Soul winning its fourth consecutive award in the Urban category, as well as new-comers Ford and Mitsubishi. Winning vehicles competed in six different classes among their peers, judged by the very consumers they are designed and built for, those with active lifestyles.

Nearly one hundred journalists and athletes test drove vehicles on a variety of street, freeway and off-road courses to get a feel for how they perform. Participants scrutinized livability features including seating, cargo capability, and overall versatility for activities such as camping, sports, and road trips.

The vehicles which included cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers came from well known and respected brands Audi, Buick, Chrysler, Fiat, Ford, Dodge, GMC, Jeep, KIA, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Scion, Toyota and Volkswagen.

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The program continues to grow in size and scope with each iteration”, said Nina Russin, event co-founder. “But after twelve years we remain committed to our original mission of giving the OEMs direct feedback from the active audience”.

Class Winners:

Best Value Off Road: 2015 Ford F-150

Luxury Off Road: 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Luxury On Road: 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450

Best Value On Road: 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

Best Value Family: 2015 Ford Edge

Urban: 2015 Kia Soul

During the two-day event, members of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association judged vehicles on its own and awarded the first Best of the Southwest award, that went to the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

About the Active Lifestyle Vehicle Awards

A Phoenix based event, the Active Lifestyle Vehicle Awards has grown in size and prestige since its inception in 2004. The event brings the perspectives and opinions of over 100 consumers who live the active lifestyles automakers market their products to, culminating into top awards in multiple categories. The group of athletes and active lifestyle enthusiasts act as a valuable focus group for automakers and industry experts alike. This year’s event moved to a new electronic scoring system, providing more comprehensive consumer feedback to manufacturers.

2015 Jeep Renegade: Small, but Rough, Rugged & Raw

2015-Jeep-Renegade-offroadingExperienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Jeep, the venerable SUV brand continues to deliver more country hits than Taylor Swift. No, not music hits, I’m speaking country as in backwoods, forests, mud, ruts and rough terrain. The Trail Rated manufacturer is on a roll selling over a million vehicles in the last five years. That’s a great deal of off-roading! Next up is the newfangled 2015 Renegade which sets them in small, utility territory (B segment) providing fuel efficiency, elevated driving dynamics, full capability, interior room and daring utility in typical Jeep fashion.

According to Jeep product planners and executives 2015 is going to be a fundamental and foundational year for the company with globalization taking center stage. For example, Jeep hasn’t manufactured locally in China in over 10 years. But the plan is to build there and the Renegade will play a vital role in Jeep’s future story and success worldwide. Especially since the little guy is their first all-new vehicle introduced in the last five years. Up until now, the current roster has only been updated or refreshed. Originally, the platform was envisioned as a minute, wide Jeep. But where would designers and engineers go from there when they embarked upon the project four years ago? Well, now we know the intention was to instill Wrangler personality and character into the Renegade. Designed and engineered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, the Renegade is small — but staying true to its heritage – is also rough, rugged and raw.

When I first saw photos of the domestic utility I was in disbelief that it could do what it had done during my drive time. Yet, I can’t deprive the senses of their second Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) experience where we evaluated the Renegade in Trail Rated environments. SVRA is a major state park and active space in the Gabilan Mountains in Hollister, CA for camping and picnicking. It is also laden with graphic trails for 4x4s, dirt bikes and ATVs. In fact, Jeep held the media drive for the Grand Cherokee a few years back in this same location and utilized some of the exact courses to prove the Renegade Trailhawk’s bravado. It scampered up steep hills providing a view of the sky from the windshield, not the sunroof, and continued traversing upward until our campground below looked as if it was being viewed through a telescope. I then selected Hill-decent Control and let the Renegade crawl downward at a slow pace while it self-braked. The Trailhawk was also confident in bouncing over small boulders and bending around tight, dirt slopes. Yep, everyone was scratching their heads after the off-road experience.

2015 Jeep RenegadeThe premise of the Renegade is simple in nature but complex in construction. And of course there will be compromises when attempting to package your wish list and still come out on top with a game changer. For this reason the Renegade is an oddly shaped Jeep when it comes to styling, but it gets the job done. When a Wrangler pulled up, my drive partner and I looked at each other wondering why it actually didn’t resemble the Wrangler more. Naturally the vehicle features a vertical front end with big round headlights and Jeep’s 7-slot grille, a lowered beltline for larger windows, a flat roof and Trapezoidal wheel arches from the 1941 Willys MB Jeep. One of the coolest elements is the two-piece removable My Sky open-air system aka the dual-pane sunroof, of which one is power retractable and the other is fixed. Yet, both allow you to remove the 10-pound glass panes and store them in the cargo area under the 2-piece floor. With all windows rolled down and the sunroof relocated, the joy of fresh air and deep sunlight does become reminiscent of a Wrangler. The operation takes about ten minutes max so if your Spidey senses forecast rain make sure to pull over in enough time.

The Renegade is presented in four models dubbed Sport, Limited, Trailhawk and Latitude and ranges in MSRP from $17,995 for a Sport 4×2 to $25,995 for a Trailhawk (excludes $995 destination). Each represents a specific aspect of the Jeep hallmark such as the aggressive Trailhawk which is the toughest of the crew and is enhanced with front tow hooks, more aggressive approach (30.5 degree) and departure (34.3 degree) angles, taller tires, a painted roof option, Hill-decent Control, skid plates and the 4×4 Jeep Active Drive Low system with Rock mode). Two efficient 30-mpg plus powertrains come in the form of a 2.4-liter MultiAir2 4-cylinder with 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque (paired with the new 9-speed automatic transmission) and the spunky 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo kicking out 160-horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque (paired with the 6-speed manual transmission). Either engine can be had as 4×2 FWD or 4×4 ($2,000 option), but only the 2.4-liter specifically can tow up to 2,000 pounds.

2015 Jeep Renegade LimitedI found the 2.4-liter to move with aspiration on the hilly roads in route to SVRA while manipulating the lower gears on the automatic. Though, on the highway we could have used a bit more torque for top-speed passing. A bevy of mechanical and electronic technologies advance the Renegade above some of its competitors. One of which is Selec Terrain traction system with settings for Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock. It is paired with both Jeep Active Drive and Active Drive Low 4×4 systems. Snow mode for example starts you off in 2nd gear and reduces throttle while Sand mode provides a little more wheel slip. Forward Collision Warning-Plus, LaneSense Departure Warning-Plus, seven airbags, Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection and ParkView rear backup camera are just a few of 70 safety features added to the Renegade.

Jeep does some very cool things like model Orange/Grey interiors from base jumping suits and title their exterior hues Commando, perfect since I wore fatigues which made me feel like G.I. Joe on a recon mission. Jeep also challenged the company’s younger designers to sketch enthusiastic interiors grounded on their very own lifestyle expectations. The end result is an energetic, functional cabin with fold flat seats, a high-pitched headliner, large controls, colorful contrasts and the trapezoidal theme which accentuates the vents, door handle moldings, speakers and gearshift casing.

2015 Jeep Renegade TrailhawkSitting inside 116 cubic feet of interior space (51 cubic feet for the cargo area) felt like a magic trick. My athletic build is suited more for Grand Cherokees, not Renegades, so I thought. But I was pleasantly surprised by the vehicle’s roominess and comfort. The thick, multifunction steering wheel is solid and firm, as is the tall gear selector with manual mode on the 9-speed. An electric park brake creates space and leaves room for items such as the hardy, center cup holders and the Renegade’s actions are interpreted through a color 7” multi-display and configurable TFT gauge cluster which allows the vehicle to clearly communicate its activities with the driver. Additionally, Uconnect 5.0 and 6.5AN touchscreen systems deliver equivalent technology and digital services as the rest of the Jeep family. Intuitive, thoughtful and engaging, I am more at ease in a Chrysler ride when Uconnect is present. “With Uconnect Access, the all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade is the most innovative small sport-utility vehicle (SUV) on the market,” said Alan Amici, Head of Uconnect Systems and Services — Chrysler Group LLC. “Thanks to the array of Uconnect features and services, Renegade’s drivers can remain productive and stay in touch without ever taking their hands off the vehicle’s available heated steering wheel.”

You can get with this, or you can get with that, but if Trail Rated is part of your vocab then Jeep is where it’s at!

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude: The Concrete Jungle Conqueror

2014-Jeep-Cherokee-Latitude-BlueLeon Brittain

Last year I attended the launch of the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Although automotive press trips are well planned and attended, they only provide a glimpse into the real-world application of the given test vehicle. This being the case, I was happy to pick up that half day drive experience with Fit Fathers 2014 Cherokee Latitude 4×4 at home in Maryland for a couple days of city running and kid shuffling fun.

Around town the True Blue Pearl Latitude easily handled the tough terrain of the city streets thanks to new front and rear independent suspensions. Powering our concrete jungle conqueror is a 3.2-liter V6 engine and fluid 9-speed automatic transmission with an EPA of 27 highway mpg. Unfortunately, my combination of rough city and speedy highway galloping didn’t yield the positive mpg results I had hoped for. This could’ve been directly correlated to the spirited acceleration and handling I became addicted to. [Read more…]

Jeep Wrangler Family Life

Jeep-Wrangler-FamiliesBack in 2007 I had the privilege of attending the 4-door Wrangler “Unlimited” launch along the Rubicon Trail in Sierra Nevada with Automotive Rhythms‬.

As the owner of a ’98 Sahara Wrangler (my second Wrangler) during that trip, I thought a 4-door model was an interesting attempt, but took away from the sturdy essence of a Jeep. Furthermore, the ’07 model lacked the creature comforts and refinements befitting an adventurous family. In 2012 while on another Wrangler trip in the Pacific Northeast I, however, became a believer in the 4-door Wrangler as it was a significantly enhanced with the same trail related abilities of the 2-door model with improved “on-road” and interior comfort.

I am now that consumer Jeep talked about during the “Unlimited” intro presentation back in 2007 and love bringing the family along for our Jeep adventures. ‪#‎JeepLife‬ ‪#‎DadLife‬ #AutomotiveRhythms ‪#‎FitFathers‬ ‪#‎RockMonster‬

11th Annual “Active Lifestyle Vehicle” of the Year Competition

4-door-jeep-wrangler-black-front-alvThe Carspondent.com’s Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year  program is the only event to combine the input of nationally recognized automotive journalists, elite and area athletes to determine the best cars and trucks for buyers with active lifestyles. This year’s event at Local Motors in Chandler, Arizona on October 17-18 features 30 vehicles from two-dozen automotive manufacturers, competing for trophies in the following categories: Best Value On-Road, Best Value Off-Road, Urban, Best Value Family, Luxury Family, Luxury On-Road, Luxury Off-Road and Green ALV. [Read more…]

Operation SAFE Return – Jeep Hosts a Day of Service

Operation_SAFE_Return-Jeep_Hosts_a_Day_of_Service_10Some companies go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to supporting America’s troops.  Jeep is one such company which has partnered with the USO to launch Operation S.A.F.E. Return, a program designed to give back and support our men and women in service defending this great nation.  To help with the remarkable outreach, Jeep and the USO enlisted the support of celebrity chef and retired Marine John Besh, actress Olivia Munn and Super Bowl Champion Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens) for the grand opening of the new Warrior and Family Center in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. [Read more…]

Jeep & Men’s Health Urbanathlon Training: Redefine Your Finish Line!

Jeep_Mens_Health_Urbanathlon_Training...005I’ve always considered myself an athletic guru with the heart of a lion. From track and field state records in high school to playing D1 football at Georgia Tech, the competitive spirit runs deep in my blood. That was then, and this is now. Today I’m the father of two beautiful little girls and can’t quite keep up with the competitive pace of collegiate athletics. Yet, I still exercise five times a week and maintain a healthy diet. I’m also the Publisher of Automotive Rhythms and travel the globe pretty extensively test driving and evaluating the latest vehicles for consumer purchase. So, I decided upon a personal challenge and motivational accelerator by signing up for the Chicago 2011 Urbanathlon presented by Men’s Health Magazine. [Read more…]