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2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4X4 Review By John Heilig

2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4x4

By John Heilig
Senior Editor
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

MODEL: 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4X4
ENGINE: 2.4-liter I-4
TRANSMISSION: 9-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 180 hp @ 6,400 rpm/175 lb.-ft. @ 3,900 rpm
WHEELBASE: 101.2 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 166.6 x 79.6 x 66.5 in.
TIRES: P215/65R17
CARGO: 18.5/50.8 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)
ECONOMY: 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway/23.5 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 12.7 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,573 lbs.
STICKER: $30,195 (includes $995 destination, $3,305 options)

BOTTOM LINE: There’s no question the Renegade is a Jeep, but with some refinements over the Wrangler. It is a comfortable driver, but a bit short on power. It is a good combination of rugged and civilized.

I had a former boss who was in love with his Jeep Wrangler. I remember a ride to lunch one day where we rode in the back seat. It was an adventure I’ll never forget.

The all new Jeep Renegade is definitely related to the classic Wrangler, with a more civilized exterior and interior and a far more comfortable back seat. While there’s no mistaking that the Renegade is a Jeep, to my not-serious-off-roading mind, it’s far better than the Wrangler.

However, the Renegade is Trail Rated and is probably as capable as the Wrangler for navigating the rocks and streams of the Rubicon Trail. And if you forget that you’re in a Jeep, there’s the “Since 1941” engraving over the infotainment screen to remind you.

Overall, the Renegade is a nice package. Essentially a Wrangler with an SUV body, it’s a good size for in-town driving, Interstate driving, and fooling around in the woods.

While the ride is comfortable, it isn’t smooth. I hesitate to call it rough. You feel rough roads, but there is no harshness, as there is with some small SUVs.

The 2.4-liter inline delivers 180 horsepower through a 9-speed automatic transmission, which is enough for most instances. However, if you encounter a hill, the tranny will downshift. The Renegade could use a bit more power. You can also sequentially manually shift using the shifter, and that leads to spirited performance. It reminded me of my underpowered 1950s British sports car.

We drover on pavement, stones and dirt, plus a lot of rain, yet I always felt in control. The only time I didn‘t feel in control was when there was so much rain I couldn’t see the road or the cars around me, but that was t the Renegade’s fault. The front seats are comfortable with some side support, which made the run through the monsoon livable. The seats are part of the Trailhawk package. There’s adequate rear seat leg and knee room (are you listening Dave?). The rear seats are basically flat and they fold down easily to extend the cargo capacity. Flexible pockets behind the front seats are useful.

In general, the cargo capacity is good, but I had to lower the rear seat backs to carry my golf clubs. The cargo area is not wide enough, but it’s still a good size. There are four tie-downs to hold stuff in.

With a vehicle that has a 74-year heritage, the instrument panel is clear and free of ridiculous doo-dads. There are the standard tachometer and speedometer with an info panel in between. Below the infotainment screen on the center stack are knobs for the HVAC. Below these are 4-wheel drive controls, USB and AUX connections and a 12-volt outlet. I like the cup holders. They grip the cups so that if you are driving energetically, the cups won’t fall out.

The black interior is highlighted with dark bronze trim around the speakers, shifter, cup holders and air outlets. There’s a “chicken handle” in front of the passenger if he or she can’t abide by your spirited driving. And a feature that I’d wish more manufacturers would adopt is visor extensions when the standard visor isn’t long enough. The small center console/arm rest contains a USB connection inside.

Along with the capless fuel filler are tow hooks on the rear bumper and tail lamps with a “Jeep” design.

Many people are put off by the Jeep Wrangler’s obvious ruggedness, while many others grasp it lovingly. The Jeep Renegade has most of the virtues of the Wrangler, but with a more civilized body and interior. As such, it’s a good offering at a reasonable price point.

2015 The Auto Page Syndicate

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