Review: Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4×4 – Part 2

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The engine that motivates the Jeep Renegade is a Tigershark 2.4L four-cylinder that puts out 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. That’s quite a lot of power given the size of the Renegade. It’s mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission that can be manually shifted and power goes to all four wheels via a all-wheel drive system that has this going for it:

  • Automatic mode: It’s front-wheel drive only until it senses slippage which saves you gas
  • Low mode
  • Full-lock mode
  • Hill-descent mode

If that’s not enough, you can also turn the Selec-Terrain dial to set it to Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock modes. So unlike most of the competition in the sub compact SUV space, the Renegade can actually go off road and handle any conditions that it encounters. The question is how well does this setup work? Well, it depends on if we’re talking on-road or off road.

Up first are the on road capabilities of the Renegade. When I put my foot down on the highway to pass a truck or to merge onto the highway, it accelerates decently but it takes the Renegade time to get up to whatever speed you want to be at. Part of that is due to the fact the transmission takes takes a while to go from gear to gear. So if you’re expecting neck snapping performance from the Renegade, don’t. Thus you should plan your highway merging and highway passing accordingly. I also note that under some conditions, shifts can sometimes be jerky. Specifically under sustained acceleration when merging onto a highway. Once up to speed it’s more nimble than you think it should be. I found the Renegade easy to maneuver, park and dart through traffic. Though you need to keep your enthusiasm in check as it is a top heavy SUV that does have limits when you’re on an on ramp for example. On the highway it is a capable cruiser once you get it up to speed. You also get beyond excellent visibility in all directions, and that includes out the back where you’d think you’d have blind spots. And the huge mirrors that come with the Renegade really help with your visibility. Thus you should be able to keep track of what’s around you with ease. The suspension was on the firm side, but it largely soaked up road imperfections and did its best to control body roll, so I was okay with that.

When it comes to the off road capabilities of the Renegade, I headed to a gravel road in Belfountain which is north west of Toronto that has very steep uphills, downhills and sharp turns to try it out. It’s usually frequented by the pickup trucks and SUVs that are owned by the farmers in the area. Because of how rough the roads are, I only take “real” off road vehicles there to test and the Renegade qualifies as it was able to deal with this road exceptionally well. Ruts, uneven terrain, and loose gravel did nothing to upset it and I always felt in control. I should also note that there are skid plates that aren’t just there for show on the Renegade. In short, it lives up to the Jeep heritage.

Some other observations:

  • The engine makes a lot of noise when accelerating and you can still hear it while cruising. More so at highway speeds.
  • I noted that there was a grinding sound when I let off the gas pedal and coasted at slow speeds. My assumption is that it is the 4×4 system which is normal, but it is a bit disconcerting to those who aren’t used to this.
  • Wind noise is present at highway speeds.
  • Tire noise can be heard in the cabin, usually at highway speeds.

When it comes to fuel economy, I am currently getting 10.2 L/100 KM in mixed city and highway driving, some of which is in heavy traffic. I’ll see if it gets better as the week goes on.

The next part of the review will look at the interior which is different and has a bit of a surprise. Stay tuned to find out what that surprise is.

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