Wednesday, October 7, 2015

2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4WD: The Brand’s Baby Wrangler


Highlight: The Jeep Renegade shares a platform with its Italian sibling, the Fiat 500X.

Test vehicle’s MSRP: $29,330 (base model $18,990)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: airbags; 4-wheel disc brakes; all-speed traction control; daytime running lights; electric stability control system; a hill start assist system; a passenger assist handle; and a tire service kit

Standard Equipment (base model): 16-inch tires; a 6-speed manual transmission; cargo tie down loops; cloth bucket seats; manually adjusted front seats; electric parking brakes; electric power steering; front center sliding armrest; a rear window defroster; a remote keyless entry system; steering wheel mounted audio controls; a manually operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel; and a 3.5-inch screen   

Upgraded Standard Features On Test Model: 17-inch wheels; a 2.4-liter engine, 180-horsepower engine; a 9-speed automatic transmission; 4x4; 5-inch display screen with Jeep’s Uconnect system; accent color badging; air condition; automatic headlights; deep tinted sunscreen glass; electronic roll mitigation; skid plates; a leather wrapped steering wheel; outside temperature display; a rear back up camera; and a remote keyless entry system

Optional Features On Test Vehicle: fixed roof removable panels and a navigation system

Other Trim Level:




Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 4-speaker AM/FM audio system

Bluetooth Connectivity: Depending upon trim

iPod connectivity:  Depending upon trim
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 100,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.4-liter, 4-cylinder/160-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage: 21-city/29-hwy

What’s New:  The Jeep Renegade is the newest 4x4 addition to the brand.

Pros:  Unlike the Patriot, the engineering team made the Fiat-based cartoon-like Renegade a true Jeep. The entry-level Renegade is trail rated with all of the 4x4 capabilities one expects in a Jeep. The mini Jeep is also available in a 4x2 configuration. The Renegade is capable of off road adventures, as well as being a fun-to-drive street cruiser, depending upon the configuration.

The Renegade is available in four trims: Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk and Limited. Unlike the other trims, the Trailhawk, which we reviewed, is only available in a 4x4 configuration. Our Trailhawk added a fun factor too, with its optional pop-out, removable open air panels. Occupants could pop out one top or two. When both panels are popped-out, the vehicle is easily converted into an open air vehicle just like its sibling the Wrangler. Jeep also offers an optional power operated roof, too.

The Renegade Trailhawk we reviewed was also outfitted with FCA’s (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) new 9-speed more fuel efficient transmission, which was mated to a 2.4-liter engine, the same one that is shared with the Fiat 500X.

The mini Jeep, depending upon the trim can be optioned out with such features as a/c, a dual zone a/c system, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, leather seats, power driver’s seat, a windshield wiper deicer, a navigation system, a 9-speaker audio system, satellite radio, black painted roof panels, specialized hood decals and black side roof panels, 17-inch wheels, 18-inch wheels, or just a few ways the vehicle can be accessorized.

Furthermore, such safety optional features as an electronic blindspot system, a cross patch detection system for backing up, a forward collision automatic braking system, a lane departure warning system, rear parking sensors and a security alarm are available, too.

Cons: With this being a pint size Jeep, there was a few drawbacks. When we popped out both optional roof panels in the Trailhawk, we didn’t realize that the rear panel had to be popped back in first, before sliding the front panel end. We wasted valuable time figuring that out.

Added to that, since the Renegade and the Fiat 500X share the same platform, both vehicles are equipped with electronic parking brakes. In our opinion, this seems out of step with a trail rated vehicle. A vehicle that is equipped for the trails should have a traditional hand-pull braking system.

Moreover, depending upon the trim, as in the case of the Trailhawk, the vehicle couldn’t be equipped with such features as a lane changing system or a blind spot detection system. We’re not sure of the logic behind this decision.

Lastly, the Renegade is the least fuel efficient vehicle in the segment. Don’t believe the hype as it relates to compact vehicles equals fuel-efficiency. The Renegade proves that theory to be untrue even with its more fuel-efficient 9-speed transmission. To put this in perspective, the power house Corvette Stingray pushes out over 455-horsepower and it garners 29 miles on the  highway, which is just two miles lower than the Jeep Renegade.

Verdict: Initially, we were somewhat skeptical about Fiat and American’s icon, Jeep, sharing the same platform. However, to our surprise, FCA pulled it off, allowing both Fiat and Jeep to maintain their identities just like a great marriage. So, for those seeking a compact Jeep with loads of spunk and personality in either a 4x2 or a 4x4 configuration, this 5 passenger compact crossover is worth checking out.

Competition: Chevy Trax, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Juke and Subaru XV

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