Among the cars I was most interested in seeing at this year’s Auto Show are this pair of twins: the Fiat 500 X and the Jeep Renegade. These are definitely fraternal twins: they share a substantial family legacy in the form of a Fiat platform, but they look quite different and have distinct personal styles and roles in life. In fact, you may even see them as we do many pairs of fraternal twins, as brother and sister. A lot of writers have been exploring this metaphor, interpreting the Fiat as the girl and the Jeep as the boy, but after seeing them in person, I think it may be the other way around.
Maybe the Fiat is the sleek city boy with a chic Italian wardrobe (nothing is more fashionable this season than matte surfaces) and the Jeep is the sun bleached outdoor girl, a contemporary tomboy who dresses in bright colors and climbs rocks just as well as the macho men.
However you interpret them artistically, these are very important cars for Fiat-Chrysler. The Jeep especially is expected to sell very, very well and indeed it probably has to. Not only is it the long, awaited modern entry-level “real Jeep” in the US (and almost automatically a prominent player in the red-hot “mini ute” class of small highboy wagons), but this is the car that will represent the nameplate in the worldwide market, where “Jeep” is a very trendy label. And I think that it’s going to work out well for them. The powers that be wouldn’t let me sit in any of them, but based strictly on looks, size and features, Renegade is going to be a blazing popular success. It’s just as cute as all get out.