Written by: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography by: Stephen Spyropoulos
I had a conversation with an elderly gentleman this past week revolving around his youth and the experiences he wished he had completed when he was my age. We got into the importance of going on new adventures in life and exploring the unknown. He also mentioned that he had only recently taken up the sport of off-roading and how he regretted not starting earlier.
As I stood next to my bright Sierra Blue Jeep Renegade Trailhawk that was dripping and caked with pieces of Mother Earth, I emphasized what a rush the whole experience could be if you had a capable rig. We spoke for a good 30 minutes before he bid me adieu. He wished me the best of luck and reminded me to always try new things. For someone like myself who only gets the chance to off-road when I am booked into a competent press vehicle, I never let the opportunity escape. To try new things, to break the status quo, and to keep a smile hanging on my face – these are elements that embody the new Jeep Renegade.
While visually this car is no homage to the old Jeep Wrangler Renegades of the 70s, the new Renegade, chassis code (BU), screams youthfulness from every angle. This Renegade strays from its Jeep siblings by avoiding the boxy body lines that hinder aerodynamic efficiency in favour of being more closely related to its Italian cousin, the Fiat 500X.
In fact, I had a few people come up to me while I was at the gas station in complete disbelief that this bright blue compact SUV was a part of the Jeep family. The softer body lines give way to the fact that this is not your typical Jeep.
The Renegade bears some resemblance with its signature 7-slot grille on the front end and the flurry of grille imagery plastered all over the vehicle, but more on that later. Compared to the Fiat 500X, the Jeep is the more rugged looking of the two with tow hooks at the bow and stern painted in a bright crinkle red paint. The Renegade looks like it has been specifically upgraded for an off-road service role for whatever challenging terrain you find yourself in.
The black grille and trim give the Renegade a bit of a menacing look and the rectangular taillights with big inset Xs resemble army jerrycans. If the operator decided to have a quick afternoon delight into mud country with another Jeep and some rope, the Renegade would be more than ready to ensure you could pull each other out of deep mud pits.
Furthermore, the Renegade Trailhawk has an increased ride height and ground clearance compared to the 500X—from 17.9 cm on the Italian stallion, to a whopping 22.6 cm on the Trailhawk Renegade. It should be noted that non-Trailhawk trim Renegades can only clear 20 cm of ground.
When you are bombing down trails or trying to clear a rock face, veteran off-roaders will tell you that every centimetre counts. This is where the Renegade Trailhawk shines. The Trailhawk allows for a deep 30.5-degree approach angle and 34.3-degree departure angle, to make sure the bodywork doesn’t get caught on pesky terrain.
While some call it the smallest off-road-capable SUV in the world, the Trailhawk is actually big-boned when matched up to competitors. With a wheelbase of 2,570 mm, the Renegade matches up closely to the Kia Soul. But in terms of body dimensions, the Renegade dwarfs it. Luckily, interior room is very spacious in the chunky Renegade and I was quite impressed by the amount of legroom that is present for rear passengers.
On the inside, the Renegade Trailhawk is a Jeep enthusiast’s dream with plenty of easter eggs to keep you entertained—for the first little while anyway. In fact, there are so many of these little nostalgic secrets carved into the bodywork that I had lost count by the end of my test week. Looking for these treasures brought me back to my younger days when I would incessantly “read” the I Spy book collection and search for clues in the puzzles.
The front fascia 7-slot grille icon was the most common easter egg. It was on almost every interior panel. A pleasant surprise was the little spider illustration inside the gas door, which contained a speech bubble with “Ciao baby!” written inside of it—a clear nod to the Italian assembly location of Renegades and Fiat 500Xs.
The interior isn’t all just fun and games however. Comfort is a word that falls into the Renegade’s dictionary. The overall interior matches the exterior’s function-over-form appearance. The front seats are heated and appointed with supple leather embossed with ‘Trailhawk’ on the back-pad. The door trim was also fantastic with very soft leather on the armrest, which assisted in making me feel at home.
Fitted to my tester was the MySky package that enables the user to completely remove the “sunroof” portions on the roof in both the front and rear sections to simulate the top-down feeling you can get in the current Jeep Wrangler. The overall process does look quite complicated and likely requires two hands. If you want that wind in your hair feeling, Jeep is going to make you work for it. Unfortunately, you need a special key in order perform this, which my tester did not have at the time I conducted my review, so the roof had to stay on.
A few weeks prior to testing the Renegade, I had the Land Rover LR4—another off-road capable vehicle. While the LR4 is indefinitely better equipped to handle more variations of terrain, the Renegade Trailhawk is no slouch when you need to hit the beaten path. Trailhawks will benefit from Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system with settings for snow, sand, mud, and an extra “rock” mode specific only to this trim.
Those wondering about the performance of the Renegade over rocks should rest their worries; this Jeep comes equipped with skid plates underneath to keep all of its underbelly and innards away from harm. Compared to the LR4, which is extremely heavy and expensive, the Renegade is much lighter and gives the driver more confidence when heading down trails at a faster clip. As an added bonus, the Renegade looks absolutely fantastic when it is covered in mud. In fact, those that purchase the Trailhawk should christen it with a mud bath as soon as possible, it would be sacrilegious not to.
The Renegade is interesting in that it drives like it is a hot hatchback. While body roll can be quite excessive at times, the steering and throttle response gives the Renegade some added enjoyment when travelling on paved tarmac. My tester came with the 2.4-litre Tigershark 4-cylinder engine that is shared with the 500X. However, the Renegade makes 4 more horsepower (up from 180 hp) and 2 more lb-ft. of torque (up from 175 lb-ft) than the 500x.
Interestingly enough, the Jeep Renegade felt lighter on its feet than the Fiat. Although the Renegade and the 500x share the same transmission, a ZF sourced 9-speed automatic, the Renegade’s transmission felt smoother. I did not have any instances of jerky motion or any hiccups in the power delivery. The transmission actually managed to stay in 9th gear, even at 100km/h, something the 500x could not accomplish.
Over my test week I averaged 11.2 L/100km from a mix of 40/60 highway/city driving. I wonder if the EPA could create a rating for off-road driving, now that would be something.
Pricing for the Renegade Trailhawk in Canada starts at $30,995, a serious bargain for the amount of capability you receive. But after the plethora of options, including a premium navigation upgrade that adds in a 6.5-inch touchscreen and an upgraded sound system ($1,500) and a few select others, the price balloons to $37,730 before destination fees.
Buyers looking for an all-around car that can frequently handle the tough terrain should take a closer look at the Renegade. Personally, I would opt for nothing less than the Trailhawk trim as it comes loaded with everything you need to tackle all four Canadian seasons. A few options like the black hood decal ($150) however, I could live without.
The Renegade is the perfect excuse to shout living like we’re Renegades every time you hop in and fire it up. The vision behind it and the enthusiasm that lives within is enough to put an everlasting smile on your face. I started making excuses to get outside, switch on the 4WD and explore off-road paths and abandoned construction sites that I never knew had existed.
Sliding around in mud up to a foot deep and spraying dirt on the bodywork is something everyone should have on their bucket list. The surging emotions when pieces of Earth fly onto your windshield are indescribable.
I guess the old man was right. He should have started earlier.
型号 Model: 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk
顏色 Paint Type: Sierra Blue
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $30,995
試車售價 Price as Tested: $37,730
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,570
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,232 / 2,023 / 1,689
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,621
引擎 Engine: 2.4-litre Tigershark MultiAir I-4 engine
最大馬力 Horsepower: 180 hp @ 6,400 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 175 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4WD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson strut, coil springs, flat front steel crossmember, high-strength steel double shell lower control arms (4x4), stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Chapman strut, high-strength steel links, isolated steel rear cradle (4x4), coil springs, stabilizer bar
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: 305 x 28 mm vented rotor with 60 mm single-piston floating caliper
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: 278 x 12 mm solid rotor with 38 mm single-piston floating caliper
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 11.2 / 8.0
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.2
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P215/65R17