Friday, December 4, 2015

Review: 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk

2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk Front 3/4

By Mercedes Lilienthal

We were really excited to test the 2015 Jeep Renegade Sport earlier this year, and got even more excited when we recently had the chance to review another one, this time, the top-of-the-line, off-road ready 2015 Renegade Trailhawk.

Jeep Renegade Trailhawk gaugesWrapped in Anvil gray paint and boasting the MySky power retractable and removable roof (vs. the non-power version we had in the Sport), this optioned-up Trailhawk Jeep comes equipped with just about everything an off-road enthusiast would want (and need) for light to moderate off-pavement adventuring. This rig offers up skid plates galore, 0.8-inches more ground clearance than the Sport model (total of 8.7" if clearance), 17-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in 215/65R17 all-terrain tires, front and rear tow hooks, and a selectable Selec-Terrain AWD system with Rock Mode and 4WD Lock, which locks the center differential—a nice feature on AWD vehicles.

The Selec-Terrain system is pretty slick. It allows the driver to manually change the handling for different types of terrain and weather. Snow, sand, mud, and rock settings help the vehicle navigate tricky turf. Simply turn the knob to the desired setting and motor on. The mode you're in will display between the tachometer and speedometer on the dashboard, too. Add to that a host of safety features like a bunch of front and side-mounted airbags, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic stability and roll mitigation control, hill start and descent control, and all-speed traction control; you are pretty prepped for outdoor fun.

Jeep Renegade Trailhawk interior

But wait! This is top-of-the-line, right? Yes, and that being said, this rolling Renegade comes with a cold weather package that includes heated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated windshield wiper de-icer, heated exterior mirrors; and creature comforts such as leather, Bluetooth, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display with Navigation, HD Radio, and UConnect, a media hub that consists of USB and AUX ports, and a nine speaker/subwoofer assembly to keep your tunes a playin'. The versatile LCD screen in the middle of the dashboard is also trick, and can display a host of information. There's also a 110-volt port in the back to plug in your all-important ARB off-road refrigerator before heading out to explore. BAM! Let's go adventuring.

All Renegade Trailhawks are powered by the 180 hp 2.4-liter MultiAir engine, which is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission (the only choice). The engine feels smooth and has a good amount of power. Plus, it revs with ease and doesn’t make too much racket, either. It offers up plenty of smooth gear changes, and power is certainly adequate.

I took the car to southern Oregon for a business trip, and spent about 350 miles behind the wheel. At freeway speeds, there is a little bit of wind and road noise but nothing that is too shocking when driving a box-shaped rig down the road. And yes, there's cruise control, thankfully. The Renegade cruises effortlessly, and will go into that ninth gear when cruising to make the most of its fuel economy. FYI, we averaged about 25 MPG combined.

Jeep Renegade Trail Rated BadgeWith its fully independent suspension system, the Renegade's handling is adequate and fairly nimble, despite the increased height and 3.7% larger tire size than the Sport. Although we didn’t have a chance to drive this drive this 2015 Renegade Trailhawk in mud or snow, we did give it a spin on some gravel roads, some of which had good sized potholes. Piece of cake; it was planted and solid with plenty of traction. It soaks up bumps and those potholes easily, and would likely be fairly capable on easy-to-moderate trails thanks to the selectable AWD system. The Renegade Trailhawk does get Jeep's Trail Rated badge, which means the vehicle has passed a set of tests for traction, water fording, maneuverability, articulation, and ground clearance.

At 5'4" tall, I am vertically challenged and I found it difficult to get a comfortable seating position. No matter how I adjusted the seat bottom, back, and steering wheel, I found myself futzing more than I should need to. The front seats are fairly flat, but decently comfortable and have an extremely upright seating position, and the headrests are too far forward and hard. Andy didn’t have as much of an issue of this as I had.

Jeep Renegade Trailhwak center console
Like all Renegades, the Trailhawk boasts many iconic Jeep details, both on the exterior and the interior. Look anywhere and you will find a myriad of circular headlight imprints, Jeep grille details on the rear lift gate, rear taillights, etc.; mud staining on the tach, topography printing in the center stack exposed cubby, and heck, even a spider detailing in the gas door. Yup, you heard right, a spider that says "Ciao baby!" Also abundant were red interior accents. Vent gussets, engine stalk gusset, and stereo cover gussets, all red. While Andy liked all of these details, I thought they were fun but a bit overused. Too much of a good thing makes it not good? Well, possibly depending on who you are. Small gripes I know, but you are reading a review from an extreme detail queen. (It is both a godsend and a curse.)

Another detail to note is the center stack display. All the controls are easy to use, within easy reach, and gusseting is NOT high-gloss piano black. (Thank you Jeep!) No finger prints to be found here, even with the red painted areas. Especially critical if you have the MySky roof off and play in the sand all day, you won’t have issues with cleaning these interior finishes, unlike some other cars and their glossy black finishes.

The MySky roof panels can be opened like a moon roof or taken out and stored in a removable zippered canvas bag found mounted in the rear cargo area. Great idea, but if not being used, I suggest storing the bag elsewhere. Our test model had about 3,000 miles on it and the bag had many scuffs already due to transport and storage of other items placed on top of it. One additional item to note: with a sticker price of more than $32,000 (including destination charge), one would think you would have variable intermittent wipers. Nope. You instead have off, on slowly, then a bit faster, then on fast. Two fixed settings in between off and on. Last time I checked, almost all our test models have surpassed this years ago. Super small item to note but when you live in the wet-centric Pacific NW like we do, you need ALL the speeds of wipers you can get your hands on.

Other items worthy of discussion are knobs for the stereo and fuel economy. Thank you Jeep for keeping knobs for the stereo! So many models come equipped with stereo controls built into the touch screen. Tap, slide, move your finger, they never seem to work well or quickly. Knobs for this awesomely-sounding stereo are the right size and position, and BONUS—I found a mute button. Hurray for a mute button, it is time for celebration!

2015 Jeep Renegade Trail Hawk Rear

The Renegade’s fuel ratings are not too shabby: rated 21 city, 24 combined, and 29 highway. Our tester wasn’t too far off of the Subaru Crosstrek’s class-leading fuel economy, either. In fact, we got about 2 MPG better than the Crosstrek we tested in 2013. Not too bad for a ride that can play equally well off-road as on-road.

This subcompact CUV stickered at $33,265, and is essentially fully loaded. It falls inline with many other upper-end small CUVs. It is, however, $6,695 more expensive than the Renegade Sport we tested this summer. So is it worth it? That depends. If you want the extra ground clearance, selectable AWD, and bigger wheels/tires, sure. Plus, you do get that Anvil paint color and the tow hooks. This tester did have the Customer Preferred Package ($1,495), the navigation/Sirius XM package ($1,245), and the power MySky roof ($1,395) in addition to a few other options, so the price could come down if you didn't care for those bits.

The 2015 Renegade Trailhawk is the perfect vehicle for someone who wants function, form, and image all rolled up into a versatile package with plenty of character. A new model for Jeep? Yes. A new favorite among cross-over adventure seekers? It could be. The Trailhawk version of the Renegade is great if you want a bit more capability, some more off-road style, and some unique features. It's no wonder this vehicle has been a hit so far with CUV buyers. And with the Jeep name behind it, it'll likely continue to be a hot commodity.

THE BASICS: 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk
MSRP As Tested: $32,265
Engine: 2.4-liter, 16-valve I4
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Horsepower: 180
Torque: 184 lb/ft
Curb Weight: 3,573 lbs.
Wheelbase: 101.2
Overall Length: 166.6"
Suspension: F: MacPherson Struts
R: Independent Multi-link Rear
Brakes: F: Disc w/ABS
R: Disc w/ABS
Wheels: 17" alloy
Tires: 215/65/17 All-Terrain
Fuel Economy (MPG): 21 city, 24 combined, 29 highway
Fuel Type: Regular 87 octane

Jeep Renegade Trailhawk Towhook

Jeep Renegade Speaker

Jeep Renegade Flashlight
Yes, that is a built-in LED flashlight. It's located in the cargo area next to the subwoofer. 


Anonymous said...

I feel at this price point you're way too close to a 4-Door Wrangler to opt for this package. If you want this kind of off road performance, why not get the superior vehicle?

The Renegade is great at what it's doing, but it just feels like they went 1 step too far on this one. The Sport package makes sense.

It's kind of like the Fiesta ST vs the Focus ST. The Focus ST is mechanically superior in every way and is only marginally more expensive.

Anonymous said...

Why? Cost, size and gas mileage! Not everyone has the room in their garage for a lifted 4 door Wrangler and can't afford to keep it moving. Wrangler's with the options can run upwards of $40k + pretty easily, however the renegade Trailhawk model can be had at $24k with minimal options. It's really a matter of taste and what you are using it for. Hardcore offroading Wrangler hands down. Everyday commuter Renegade hands down.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding write-up! I followed the link here from your JeepForum profile, btw. I think this article has made up my mind on a new Renegade Trailhawk. Thank you.