You might ask, why compare the new Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500x compact crossover? After all they look completely different, bring entirely unique personalities to the table, and aren’t all likey to appeal to the same customer. Right?

Well it might surprise some to know these two new compact utilities fall from the very same tree. They are built by the same parent company, roll off the same assembly line in Italy, and use identical chassis architecture and powertrains underneath.

Thus, while they have characters all their own, they’re identical twins under the skin. But remarkably while you can find similarities, there are a great deal of differences when you begin comparing the two.

First there’s the styling. The Renegade does its best to bring Jeep’s broad shoulders and butch off-road gravitas to down to a compact car sized silhouette. A trademark upright Jeep grill with round headlights is brash right up front. And it must be noted the Renegade is some 3-inches taller than the 500x.

While some argue it’s not Jeep’s best attempt at marrying the two opposite worlds, there are several Jeep overtones throughout. A good bar napkin game might be to count how many Jeep logos can be found both inside and out. After all, they’re literally everywhere to be seen.

The Fiat 500x on the other hand takes the playful and cheeky style of their much smaller 500 hatchback model and scales it up into the larger crossover it is. Like the Renegade, the 500x is washed with styling details that accentuate the brand image.

Different is its more car-like silhouette which has a less upright rear roof-line, and as mentioned a lower overall height. This keeps its style more in keeping with the brand’s other icon model, but does cut into its utility.

Both vehicles however line their lower bodies with black plastic cladding which seems a basic requirement for the crossover class. After all, if you plan to go trekking or trailing with either you don’t want your soft under-belly getting rashed up.

Inside, these two vehicles share an identical seating position and relationship to their steering wheels but their interiors share little more than a similar steering wheel design and a few elements of switch-gear.

The Fiat 500x dash seems to be lifted right from a 500 with the same playful and quirky design that makes it fun and somewhat retro. A body colored slab across and simple forms make it not only cute but easy to live in.

Jeep on the other hand created something new with its design which has a more rugged and hiking boot feel. Jeep logos and thematic details won’t be forgotten here as there are many both in plain sight and hidden throughout.

Both offer cloth seating in base models and can be had with leather at the top end. A large panoramic sunroof can be optioned in the 500x where the Jeep offers removable roof panels for a more out-doorsy way of letting nature in.

When it comes to passenger space, the two are virtually identical when it comes to leg and shoulder room, as well as general comfort. Head room is slightly less in the 500x due to its lower roof line, but it is still tall enough you aren’t likely to notice it.

Cargo volume is where the largest differences lie. Due to its lower and raked roof, the 500x has only 32 cubic feet of cargo volume. In the tall boxy Renegade you get the same semi-flat load floor as the Fiat 500x, but its shape affords nearly 50 cubic feet of rear cargo area.

Under the hood of both you can have the same 1.4 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine sourced from Fiat good for 160 horsepower coming only with a six-speed manual transmission. Alternatively you can get in both, a 180 horsepower 2.4 liter Chrysler sourced four-cylinder mated with a nine-speed automatic.

In the Fiat 500x you can only get the 1.4 liter turbo and manual in the base model Pop, all other trim grades up the scale mandate the 2.4 liter and nine-speed automatic. In the Jeep on the other hand, you can have either engine up into higher trims until you get to the TrailHawk or Limited.

Which leads us to off-road capabilities. While both are termed crossovers, there are important differences between the two when it comes to off-roading. While both can be optioned with all-wheel drive, the Jeep offers additional chassis bits that make it more robust.

When you step up to all-wheel drive in the Renegade, it gets heavier duty front lower control arms for the suspension. This makes off-pavement treks a bit less jarring and likely plays better into longevity.

Additionally, the Renegade offers their TrailHawk version which gets additional off-road hardware like skid plates and a full-time all-wheel drive system with low range for crawling rougher terrain. The 500x doesn’t offer any of this even in its top models.

What the 500x has which the Renegade doesn’t when it comes to driving and chassis is the console mounted drive mode selector which has different steering, transmission, and throttle mapping for Sport, Normal and Traction + modes. The Renegade offers a similar mode selector, but only with 4×4 models known as Select Terrain.

After our lengthy test drives in both models we give the on-pavement handling edge to the Fiat 500x which has a sporting personality and character both due to its lower profile and therefore less top-heavy mass in addition to its drive mode that works well in Sport for spirited jaunts.

The Jeep as expected gets the nod for being the true trail-blazer off the tarmac, particularly when optioned with all-wheel drive and its more robust suspension components as well as its available full-time four-wheel drive system.

In any case, we hand it to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for offering up two distinct products based on the very same bones. From the parking lot and even from first blush behind the wheel you would never know these two were born of the same parents.

Too see our individual test drives of each, click on the links below