INTRO – 2016 Jeep RENEGADE Trailhawk Review
HD Off-Road Drive Video 1
Nearly everyone has a great Jeep Wrangler memory from their youth. You were thin and gorgeous, laughing and loving the top-down lifestyle. Hanging a foot out the doorframe on a sunny afternoon.
Tunes were playing, and exploring the world around you took on new meaning.
Or you were discovering the huge straight-six torque that defined the truck for decades. Or just pining from the sidewalk at your sexy crush driving away. That collective memory is a core element of the brand’s appeal — and always has been.
For 2015, Jeep wants to make some new memories with a huge group of new shoppers.
The Renegade is the brand’s all-new compact crossover — a model so advanced it shares barely a bolt or screw with the Patriot and Compass it will replace.
And just in time, too. While early to the compact crossover game, Jeep was at risk of being left behind by the new Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trax and many more on the way.
Jeep has upped its skills, tech and style dramatically with the Renegade — but keeping the off-road skills, playful personality and cool-kid chic was top-of-mind throughout.
The result? A super-efficient, safe and practical new baby Jeep.
Let’s make some new memories via Renegade review headings of Exterior, Interior, Performance and Pricing. Along the way, we have three HD videos to share and 100-plus photos of the Trailhawk in Jungle Green.
HD Off-Road Drive Video 2
The Renegade’s design is a counter-point to the ultra-modern new Cherokee. Where the Cherokee is all swooping curves and slim LEDs, the Renegade takes the Jeep box aesthetic to new levels of functional brickness. This shape is the best off-road with ultra slim overhangs, maximized cabin room, and visibility for boulder and curb-hopping alike.
Giant round headlamps make a friendly first impression, with their inner detailing making an X like a vintage racecar wearing tape to keep any broken glass off the racetrack. The Jeep style brings this rally-based funtional element into the core look front and rear for the lights — with great effect. A subtle chop of the round lamp-tops sinks them below the hoodline for more of a scowl on the road.
It really works front and rear — with angles so steep and tall, this could be a baby G-wagen. Or, more accurately, a junior Wrangler Unlimited.
The Trailhawk trim at the top of the lineup highlights all the built-in off-road-ability of the design with taller rubber on 17-inch alloys, cool red-accented tow hooks, and a blacked-out look for the glasshouse. Optional MagicSky roof panels are a delightful option with two unclippable roof panels. An open-air experience to let in the warm sun and longing stares, and letting out your friends laughter and a thumping baseline to any soundtrack.
We really like the Renegade’s design in person. Even outside the butched-up Trailhawk trim, there is a humble charm about the functional and retro-modern shape of the Renegade that grows on you. If we had a demerit, it would be that the Renegade might not look different enough from the Patriot — even though the Renegade is taller, larger and shares no panels whatsoever with the outgoing model. The round lights up front have brand continuity and history, but they’re also just a bit too familiar for some folks.
HD MagicSky Roof Opening Video
If the previous compact crossovers from Jeep needed urgent help to battle newer machines in one particular area, it was the cabins.
Woefully yestertech, uncomfortable and un-fun… the interior moods of the Compass and Patriot missed Jeep brand bootcamp completely.
The Renegade tosses all the bad and keeps the good inside. The good being hard-wearing and durable fittings, excellent exterior visibility and city-friendly dimensions. The new Renegade has Jeep grille motif’s everywhere outside and in. Literally everywhere. Find the badge would be a fun game for owners. The classic Jeep grille and round lights emblem is stamped all over the cabin. Even the inner tailgate wears the crest with pride — but it also appears hidden in the plastic behind the rear-view mirror and hundreds of other places. The effect on you is pretty convincing — you get the sense that everything inside here is authentic Jeep. That banishes the old suspicion inside that the Compass and Patriot were little more than Dodge Neons on stilts.
The new Renegade has simply outstanding technology with the Uconnect 7-inch media center. Thumping near max volume via Bluetooth streaming audio, we even jammed out (more than thrice) to the X Ambassadors ‘Renegades’ song from the Jeep television spot.
The words of the song energize and give depth to the Renegade’s new mission leading the compact crossover onslaught. Yes, it might be new and compact. But it is badass and brand-correct.
It is a great song and a marketing coup by FCA and Interscope Records. A brilliant branded content execution worthy of an MBA school case study.
It not only rings true to owners, but sounds fantastic in the Renegade itself. Great stereo systems, after all, are demanded by the Jeep cool-kids class of 2015.
The driving position is extremely comfortable, with a good central armrest many compact vehicles omit. It is narrow inside but the tall profile means you sit up versus splay sideways. This keeps elbow-hockey to minumum up front and in back with two passengers.
The rear seat, but the way, is vastly improved over the previous mini Jeeps. It is still a bit tight overall, with a high sill making entry a bit of a hop. But once inside, the Renegade feels big enough for two large Americans. Three would require more intimacy and butt-contact among riders, but is do-able.
The trunk is the last to benefit from the Renegade’s new tall posture. A perfect box of space back there doubles with the seats folded. All very practical and easy from day one.
HD On-Road Drive Video 1
Performance is the one place the Renegade left us scratching heads in confusion. This loaded 2.4-liter 4×4 model is the top of the option boxes — and is the larger engine offered in the Renegade.
Paired with a slick new nine-speed automatic, the Renegade is extremely high-tech. Jeep chose these engines to deliver fuel economy on par with subcompacts around city driving, and also to stretch out on the highway at low revs and high mileage.
But the 2.4-liter feels quite slow at times. When driven hard with foot on the floor from a stop, the Renegade scoots along respectably. Thrumming through the gears, the Renegade makes progress a bit reluctantly. On country roads like the ones we drive in the video reviews here, the Renegade needs attention to carry speed. It needs you to focus and keep most of your foot atop the gas pedal.
Or it slows down to a more chill pace rapidly.
Whether through aerodynamics or MPG-focused programming — or perhaps just by nature — the Renegade is much happier at half-throttle. A 50-mph speed limit seems reasonable on narrow two-lanes in the Renegade. In sportier cars, 70-mph feels more natural on the same road.
That being said, the Renegade has feelsome and helpful steering that is light yet accurate. Handling is planted around most bends, and the AWD system helps direct horsepower to all four wheels without any slippage.
Yes, this engine fits the mood of summertime party-goers. Yes, it is plenty of motor to handle off-roading in 4-Low. But the Renegade still lacks the punch of the Chevy Trax’s 1.4-liter turbo. Both come in to 60-mph in the high 8-second ballpark, but the Trax has more convincing enthusiasm that encourages full-throttle driving.
The Renegade Trailhawk AWD came in at the top of the price lists: as-tested the truck is just over $28,000.
As much as we loved the Trailhawk details, optional MagicSky and Uconnect features…. the base models from just $17,000 are very tempting.
Despite running front-drive and a six-speed manual from that low-down base price, the Renegade Sport is quite tempting.
Among the target market of jailbate hotties, the $25k Renegade Limited and Renegade Trailhawk will make a better impression with their automatic and AWD boxes checked.
The beauty of the Renegade, however, is that the core vehicle is good enough to appeal to Wrangler fans past, present and future. All while delivering excellent new tech, safety and refinement?
The Renegade is a great truck. On-trend in every way, the Renegade is the
first second great compact Jeep. (Since the original in WWII…:)
Priced right, ready to play on and off road, yet modern and tech-savvy enough for a global road-trip?
The Renegade Jeep will be your copilot all the way.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.