There is a distinct lack of smaller 4WD vehicles on the market. There are a few that pretend to have 4WD credentials but few that have actual ability. Enter the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk that we are testing. Launched in October 2015 the all new Renegade has combined fresh and innovative design with true off road ability.
This is an urban sized robust looking small 4WD that is equally at home around inner-city streets as it is on the Birdsville track. It does have the look of a stylish box on wheels with little overhang front and rear, high roof line, 17 inch wheel tyre combinations, unusual X rear lights, an open feel with the My Sky open-air roof system and Jeep Active Drive Low 4×4 system and the traditional 7 slot Jeep grill.
It looks quite the trendy little urban warrior on the outside but step inside the range topping Trailhawk and you are in for a surprise. The high design lends itself to an open airy feel with plenty of head room. Again unusually on recent vehicles the ‘A ‘pillars are reasonably thin and at the angle they are don’t restrict visibility much. All around the visibility is excellent with no real blind spots, and the rear view camera and blind spot alerts on the large external mirrors assist greatly.
The front leather seats are very comfortable with multiple electronic adjustments and for extra comfort are heated as well. I found myself having more than enough room and with the height and reach adjustable steering wheel found the perfect ‘for me’ driving position. This was a bonus in a car this size. The designers have really placed the front occupants comfort as a high priority.
The interior of the Renegade has a distinctive form language which Jeep designers have titled “Tek-Tonic.” This new design theme is defined by the intersections of soft and tactile forms with rugged and functional details. It seems very X Games like
The rear seats are reasonably comfortable with plenty of head room. However the seat squab is short, there is precious little knee room and are better suited to two occupants. However this is similar to other cars this size.
The dash and door trims are a premium feel soft and to make sure all of the needed passenger gear fits, the Renegade is designed with an efficient and flexible interior package that includes a removable, reversible and height-adjustable cargo floor panel and fold-forward front-passenger seat.
The heated thick rimmed leather steering wheel felt great in the hands, had all the controls one has come to expect on it, with the traditional Jeep feel. The indicator and washer stalks are easily visible. The 7 inch fully customisable dash has two large dials on the outside with a multi adjustable display in-between that allows quite a lot of information for the driver without feeling cluttered. Again a big design tick here.
The centre console and stack again shows clever design. It all seems to flow and provides ease of use. The stack is highlighted by an in-vehicle hands-free communication, entertainment and navigation Uconnect system that includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port and auxiliary audio jack. The Trailhawk comes with the awesome Beats 9 speaker audio system.
The Jeep Active Drive Low 4×4 system on the Renegade Trailhawk helps it earn a Trail Rated badge – emblematic of its ability to perform under almost any conditions and features both a single speed power transfer unit and disconnecting rear axle. Seamlessly switching between two-wheel and four-wheel drive the rear axle disconnect reduces energy loss; improving fuel efficiency when 4×4 isn’t needed and enhancing handling and traction when it is. Enhancing its 4WD credentials the Renegade Trailhawk has a 20:1crawl ratio and Jeep Selec-Terrain system.
The Renegade is the first small SUV to feature a disconnecting rear axle and power take-off unit (PTU) – all to provide the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk with enhanced fuel economy. The system instantly engages when 4×4 traction is needed. The Renegade Trailhawk is also the first Jeep to integrate Koni’s frequency selective damping (FSD) front and rear strut system.
Built on an all-new platform, and the first to feature Jeep’s “small-wide 4×4 architecture”, the Renegade combines best-in-class off-road capability with world-class on-road driving dynamics. It does display some torque driving characteristics under normal driving conditions and acceleration, but in general it handles pretty good on road. As a side issue the very first vehicle I ever drove was a left hand drive WW11 Willys Jeep and I have had a strong affiliation for Jeeps ever since.
Jeep Active Drive Low includes the Jeep Selec-Terrain system, providing five modes (Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock mode) for the best four-wheel-drive performance on- or off-road and in any weather condition.
The full package delivering off-road capability that allows the Trail Hawk Trail Rated 4X4 capability also includes in addition to the above:
- Increased ride height 30mm (1.2 inches) to a total of 211mm
- Skid plates, and rear red tow hook
- Fascia design delivers 30.5-degree approach, 25.7-degree breakover and 34.3-degree departure angles
- 17-inch all-terrain tyres
- Fully independent suspension that allows up to 205mm (8.1 inches) of wheel articulation (rear) and 170mm at the front
- Hill-descent Control
- Up to 480mm (19 inches) of water fording
The Trailhawk is powered by the 2.4-litre Tigershark engine delivering 129kW of power and 230Nm of torque. This mates to a clever and technologically advanced nine-speed transmission that is smooth and improves fuel economy. The economy for a petrol isn’t bad and it makes the most of the available power.
Safety and security are a key feature of the Jeep Renegade, with more than 60 available safety and security features – including the availability of Forward Collision Warning-Plus and LaneSense Departure Warning-Plus.
In addition, engineers added both active and passive safety and security features, including available Blind-spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Path detection and a standard equipment list which includes a ParkView reverse parking camera complete with dynamic grid lines; electronic stability control (ESC) with electronic roll mitigation and seven air bags.
The LaneSense Departure Warning Plus system at times is intrusive trying to overtake the steering. I have mixed feelings about such safety features. They have benefits but also override good driving techniques.
The Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is a mixture. It certainly provides a compact proper 4WD vehicle that has legendary Jeep capabilities, it is stylish and fits its urban warrior positioning perfectly, and it is packed with standard features. It unfortunately is pretty useless for towing anything more than small trailers and if it had a small powerful diesel motor it would be unbeatable in its class.
Overall I really enjoyed the Trailhawk, more than I expected, I found myself looking forward to driving it and it was great in and around the inner-city.
What is good!
- Styling and Urban Chic
- Packed with features
- Real 4WD ability
What is not so good!
- No diesel option
- Storing My Sky roof
- Torque steer
Model: Jeep Renegade Trailhawk
Model Price: $44,016 RDAP
Engine: 2.4L Tigershark
Drivetrain: Active drive 4WD 9 speed auto
Power: 129kW @ 6400rpm
Torque: 230Nm @ 4400rpm
CO2 Emissions: 175 g/km
Economy: (ADR comb) 7.5 L/100km
Tow Capacity Max: 907 kg
Tow Ball Rating: 90 kg
Warranty 3yr/ 100,000 km with full roadside assist
Overall OzRoamer Rating 74/100
Behind the Wheel 9
Ride & Handling 8
Fit for Purpose 9
Towing Ability 5
Off Road Ability 7
Value for Money 8