Jeep Renegade Off Road Review – Driving a Jeep can be fun, but there’s a right way and a wrong way – and when you try to iron out the differences, you’ll be left wanting more everywhere. Here’s what I learned while driving the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk on and off-road.
The Renegade is designed to appeal to urbanites looking for compact SUV practicality and an adventure Jeep vibe. Its 1.3-liter turbocharged I-4 engine, which debuted last year and replaced the previous 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4, makes 177 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque and is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Although entry-level Renegades power only the front wheels, which is sacrilege for a Jeep, all-wheel drive is available on every trim and standard on some models, including the Trailhawk.
Jeep Renegade Off Road Review
As the name suggests, the Trailhawk is a rougher version of this trough grill micro machine. Complementing its capabilities are a multi-surface drive selector knob, a “low range” setting and hill descent control. Nice touches include red trim badges and tow hooks. Our tester was packed with options like a panoramic sunroof and Jeep’s excellent 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen, which cleverly integrates Apple CarPlay for quick response and intuitive switching between device or vehicle controls.
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Any Trailhawk will spend most of its time on pavement, so we tasked our tarmac testing team with evaluating it. For the 0-60 mph run, road test editor Chris Walton initially fired up the automatic, noting that shifts in third gear were tight and quick, but dropped off after fourth. On manual transfer attempts, “the latency between request and transfer was horrendous.” In either case, the engine “feels like it’s struggling.” Its best 0-60 mph time is 8.9 seconds, which is just a touch faster than the 9.0 seconds senior copy editor Jesse Bishop drove the 2.4-liter Renegade Sport for a year, but negligibly. Jesse now owns a relatively fast Hyundai Kona – also powerful, all-wheel drive – that can hit 60 in 6.6 seconds.
Despite pressing the brake pedal hard, Walton noticed a substantial nose dive and drift in the front end, ending with a 60-0 stopping distance of 133 feet. Distance varied by just 2 feet across five attempts, but all stops trailed the larger RAV4 Adventure’s best distance of 126 feet.
Around number 8, test director Kim Reynolds found the Trailhawk’s pitch and roll performance noticeable, but he thought it was “a little fun anyway.” Due to understeer and “crazy action,” the little Jeep managed a lap time of 28.9 seconds at an average of 0.56 g, slower than the Subaru Crosstrek, which lapped the track in 27.3 seconds at an average of 0.62 g. .
Behavior in real-life driving is similar. The nine-speed gearbox seems to have more gears than it’s intended for. Under gradual acceleration, gear changes are slow and rough, and when it comes time to gallop forward, the response is muted as it considers where to shift. Suddenly, it decides, turbo boosts and accelerates further than you want. The transmission hesitates between reverse and drive, adding to the complexity of parking maneuvers. The engine stop/start function is also slow and suffers from a clunky tilt. In addition to these missteps, the little engine requires a lot of gas to accelerate.
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The chassis, on the other hand, exhibits pleasantly responsive handling. The steering is nicely weighted and doesn’t feel completely off-center. Our tester’s tiller felt nice, too, and the optional leather trim added a comfortable girth. That said, the Renegade’s short wheelbase and narrow track don’t give it a particularly planted feel. Still, ride quality is good; the springs allow for roll and dive, but it’s not dampened so much that it feels floaty. In this large mirror box, external visibility is excellent from all angles.
These factors came into play when I drove from Los Angeles to the Hungry Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area, a popular spot.
Edited to measure off-road capability. As an off-road newbie, I was assured by colleagues that Hungry Valley contained a variety of terrain to challenge both me and the Jeep. After paying and grabbing a map, I clicked the Trailhawk’s all-wheel-drive lock button and entered the vast park. Things get interesting, fast.
The first dirt road was so smooth that the Eagle didn’t even notice it wasn’t paved. Eager to find something more dynamic, I spotted a nearby middle path on the map. How hard can it be? Turns out, quite a bit — especially after novice navigation mistakes. Passing through a rock wash, I found myself at a gate where all traffic except motorcycles had stopped. I followed a short, steep slope to get there and now I had to retrace my steps. It took me three attempts to increase my oomph, but I ordered the Trailhawk to crawl over.
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Adrenaline pumping, I looked for simplicity to stabilize my vitals. Return to a fire road, although the road takes on a gradual character as it wanders along the ridgeline. Rock piles here, deep ruts there, and berms blasted into curves gave me options to explore. Throughout, the Trailhawk displayed confident stability and good articulation, easily lifting the wheels off the ground when needed. Traction isn’t a huge issue, but if you pay attention, you’ll notice this car is front-wheel drive. The Trailhawk became more fun as my confidence grew and I mixed things up and pushed my limits.
Still, I’m afraid to get into the technical parts of networking. These trails are the hardest and considering the traffic I saw going in and out of these trails, I didn’t think this little Jeep would stand a chance. Still, the middle options I encountered amused me, so I returned to civilization.
After setting the cruise control, I thought about what the Trailhawk would be used for. I basically believe it lives up to its name, but it clearly can’t compete with a true, dedicated 4×4. As the skyscrapers came into view, I considered the value of the Renegade’s compact versatility, but also knew that more street-focused crossovers had better city dynamics and more refined drivetrains. In the end, it looks a little weird and the car just doesn’t work as well as it should regardless of surface type.
So who is it for? If you’re an off-road enthusiast but your lifestyle doesn’t allow for dedicated off-road gear, the Trailhawk may be able to meet your needs. If you’re a city dweller who loves Jeeps, it’s probably the brand’s easiest vehicle to drive. But whether you’re traveling through a concrete jungle or deep into the wilderness, it’s never going to give you everything you want. Keep this in mind when you think about your vehicle’s mission. For anyone who wants a subcompact crossover or SUV with serious off-road capabilities, the Jeep Renegade is basically the only option. The Renegade Trailhawk earns the company’s Trail Rated badge with protective underbody skid plates, ample ground clearance and 19 inches of water fording capability. In other words, it does everything that many of its competitors appear to be able to do but actually can’t. This ability comes at a price, though, as the Renegade is more expensive than most competitors. For example, the Trailhawk starts at over $33, 000. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine, displacing just 1.3 liters, drives every Renegade regardless of trim level and will never strain your neck muscles from acceleration. It will get you to the mall or along the trails, though, and it does offer reasonable fuel efficiency. That said, if you don’t frequent the muddy, rocky trails off the beaten track, then you might want to consider more affordable mini-SUV alternatives.
Jeep Renegade Model Review
1Mazda CX-30 Starting price: $26, 370 2Chevrolet Trax Starting price: $21,495 3Hyundai Kona Starting price: $25,435 4Kia Soul Starting price: $21,315 5Volkswagen Tais Starting price: $25,345 18Jeep Renegade Starting price: $29,445
For 2023, the Renegade’s most significant change is the elimination of the front-wheel drive layout; all 2023 models will use all-wheel drive. Additionally, the lineup loses the Sport trim level, meaning the Latitude is now the entry-level model. The remaining changes are related to modifications to the equipment package. Latitude models now offer a Premium Group package that includes a power driver’s seat, heated steering wheel and front seats, roof rails, windshield wiper de-icer and cornering fog lights. A new Upland special edition model joins the lineup, priced just $595 more than the base Latitude while adding rugged exterior styling, unique 17-inch wheels on all-terrain tires, and a 7.0-inch digital instrument display. Meanwhile, Limited models come standard with adaptive cruise control; an available High Altitude Package (Granite Crystal 19-inch wheels, black badging, neutral gray grille ring); plus a new Limited Elite Group package (LED lighting, parking sensors, gearbox Windshield wiper de-icer). Finally, the Trailhawk adds the Trailhawk Elite Group package, which includes heated leather seats, a power driver’s seat, a heated steering wheel, and a windshield wiper de-icer, and the Premium Lighting Group package, which includes the same LEDs as the Limited Elite Group mentioned above lighting components. Detonator Yellow and Solar Yellow have been added as exterior paint options.
Those who plan on using the Renegade to tackle rough terrain will want the range-topping Trailhawk, or another Jeep entirely. Instead, we recommend the Upland model, which has more rugged exterior styling than the base Latitude and comes with some nice features like 17-inch aluminum wheels, a 7.0-inch digital instrument display, ambient interior lighting, and a center console. – Dash navigation.
Every 2023 Jeep Renegade has a turbocharged 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine in the engine bay, but it’s not refined
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