OAK BROOK, IL – Jeep is counting on its smallest vehicle to do some heavy lifting.

“We want the 2015 Renegade to attract a new generation of Jeep owners,” Becky Blanchard, Jeep brand manager, says at a recent preview of the all-new compact SUV for the Midwest Automotive Media Assn.

“We’re looking for young as well as older buyers on a fixed budget, but the core buyer we’re looking to attract is the first-time buyer who will start with our smallest, lowest-priced model and stay in the family as he works his way up through the Jeep lineup over time,” Blanchard says.

The new faces Jeep hopes to win over when Renegade goes on sale at the end of this year are those who normally would buy a small car, especially a hatchback, she says.

“Renegade offers the room and utility of a hatchback car, and with the added security of 4-wheel drive, you can escape the city when looking for adventure,” Blanchard adds.

Rivals will be the Nissan Juke, Buick Encore and the upcoming Chevy Trax that will bow for ’15, as well as the Kia Soul, though “Soul doesn't offer 4WD like Renegade does,” she notes. This segment should account for annual sales of about 2 million units worldwide, about 500,000 of those in the U.S. Jeep does not disclose production or sales targets.

The larger midsize Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 don't compete with Renegade, Blanchard says.