2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4x4 Review
But before we tell you why we consider the Renegade a premium compact SUV instead of just a run-of-the-mill economy model, the Trailhawk trim deserves some attention of its own. It brings a rough and rugged look to what would otherwise be a rather cutesy little 4×4, with a big matte black decal on the hood, thicker black cladding around its lower edges and wheel cutouts, an all-black roof top and side rails, plus cool red tow hooks front and rear. Bold red-painted Trail Rated badges join red drop-shadow-like underlays around the Renegade badges on each front door, and a red-winged Trailhawk badge is fixed to the rear hatch.
Just in case you forgot you were driving a Jeep, the brand’s logo is attached in the usual fashion to the front-center of the hood, plus there’s one on each wheel cap, tiny versions printed on the mirrors, and another large “Jeep” insignia stuck onto the rear liftgate. And if you look closer you’ll find a little seven-slot grille and headlight emblem within the headlamps themselves. Open the front door and there’s the usual brand name on the steering wheel hub and on each of its all-season floor mats, while a big digital “Jeep” graphic lights up on the infotainment screen at startup. Additional Trailhawk logos are stitched in red into the leather-clad seats and attached in designer label-style colored tabs to the backside of the front seats.
All in all, the Trailhawk-trimmed Renegade is superbly executed and filled with top-tier features. Along with metallic red trim around the speakers, front vents, shifter surround and cup holder, red stitching graces the padded leather-clad steering wheel, leather shift boot, seat bolsters and each side of the center armrest. Additionally, the entire dash top and instrument panel to the halfway point is constructed of premium-level soft touch synthetic, while each door insert and side armrest is made from one fluid piece of nicely padded leatherette. To match the steering wheel the shifter knob is also leather, while both feature attractive satin-silver trim, as does the door handles, many of the dials and the rotating knobs.
Another example of how the Renegade could easily pass for a premium model is with its switches; you won’t find better quality in the majority of luxury brands. A chrome-trimmed USB and aux port interface joins a 12-volt charger on the lower portion of the center stack, just above a little storage bin filled with a removable rubber-bottomed tray that, get this, is detailed out with a relief map of the world and, you guessed it, a tiny grille and headlights logo stamped on the corner edge. Jeep has truly gone above and beyond to make this little SUV look and feel special.
For example, the heated steering wheel is an especially nice touch, warming quickly and providing heat all the way around (unlike some that only do so at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions where hands normally rest). Likewise, the two-way heated front seats also warm up quickly and provide toasty comfort. They’re exceptionally comfy as well, with superb lower back support that incorporates true four-way lumbar support on the driver’s side. Even the rear seats are nice and roomy (for a subcompact SUV) and provide excellent lower back support. The center position folds down to expose a nicely padded leather armrest with integrated dual cupholders, while above is a removable roof panel. A three-prong 115-volt household-style AC charger sits on the backside of the front console allowing peripheral power.
This, of course, is hardly the extent of the Renegade’s extras, which for this trim level includes a very large and comprehensive color multi-information display amid its primary gauges and a sizable high-resolution color infotainment touchscreen atop the center stack. Entertainment comes via a fabulous Beats Audio AM/FM/HD and satellite radio, as well as downloadable radio apps, plus Bluetooth wireless phone and audio streaming, navigation, a rearview camera, and more.
Along with all this impressive luxury is a compact SUV that incorporates the solidity of a much larger vehicle. It’s like a little tank, although this reference might give the wrong impression, as it’s way too agile at high speed for anything running on tracks. Really, you’ll be surprised at how much fun the Renegade is to drive, taking to corners with poise and precision and fleeing from standstill or highway passing with loads of gusto thanks to an energetic 2.4-liter four-cylinder capable of 184 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque.
The Renegade Trailhawk 4×4 is as competent off road as it is on the pavement—that Trail Rated badge doesn’t come easily, as any Jeep wearing it needs to have scaled the punishing Rubicon Trail. And with its segment-exclusive nine-speed automatic transmission with four-wheel drive low and lock selector, complete with “AUTO”, “SNOW”, “SAND”, “MUD” and “ROCK” settings, you have an amazingly versatile little SUV.
There’s a lot more that could be written about this fabulous little 4×4, but other than saying its $31,580 as-tested retail price is reasonable when factoring in its premium-level attributes (the Trailhawk 4×4 starts at $26,745), its 4,508-lb. towing capacity, and its 50.8 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded, I’ll leave the rest for you to discover. The Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4×4 is certainly worth the time to do so.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press; Photo credits: Trevor Hofmann and Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press; Copyright: American Auto Press