Jeep Renegade Trailhawk Road Test Report 22 Photos Zoom

Jeep Renegade Trailhawk faces the first test: Small Jeep makes a big impression

First off-road journey with Jeep's new ray of hope. The Renegade is being launched with a wide range of models and moderate prices. We got to be the first to try out the Trailhawk version, specifically designed for off-road suitability.

Compact, cute, yet robust: this is presumably the claim made by the designers in naming the new Jeep Renegade. With its exterior length of 4.25 metres, it is currently the smallest model within the Jeep range and faces extraordinary competition in Europe: the Skoda Yeti and Opel Mokka have made some progress in the market, and the new Jeep renegade now hopes to venture into their territory.

Jeep Renegade in many versions

And it does this with a surprisingly wide range of variants, even in comparison to the competition. While when it comes to the other models, the German Jeep dealers may to a certain extent be reliant on what is "predefined" in the USA, with the Renegade a Jeep model is available once again in Europe, for the first time in years, and indeed exclusively. On account of production taking place in the Fiat plant in Melfi there is plenty of scope for customisation, unlike with other Jeep models. In addition to seven engine variants, this also includes various visual gimmicks with which buyers can personalise their Jeep Renegade.

Only one model comes in below the 20,000 Euro mark: the Jeep Renegade with the 1.6-litre standard petrol engine in the Sport version produces 109 HP and is only available with front-wheel drive. If you interpret the name Jeep correctly, you will naturally want all-wheel drive. In this case there are a total of three engine variants available: the modern 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine produces 168 HP, the variant with the 2-litre turbo diesel is available at two performance levels (138 and 168 HP) As the first Jeep to do so, the new Renegade is available with an optional nine-speed automatic transmission, which comes as standard in the top-of-the-range Trailhawk, while the powerful 168 HP diesel is likewise reserved solely for the Trailhawk.

Jeep Renegade Trailhawk with off-road technology

In the tested Jeep Renegade Trailhawk certain measures have been taken to improve the vehicles suitability for off-road use in comparison to the standard versions. Jeep speaks mischievously of off-road gear reduction, but technically speaking this is not present. Instead the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk has a shorter axle ratio compared to other models (4.3:1 rather than 3.8:1), which, together with the short first gear of the nine-speed automatic, results in an overall ratio of 20.4:1. By way of comparison: in the 138 HP diesel with manual transmission the ratio is 15.9:1. In conjunction with the torque converter automatic transmission, this also ensures improved climbing abilities in the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk. However, not just in the Trailhawk, for the Renegade Limited with a diesel engine and nine-speed automatic transmission also has the shorter axles. However, the Trailhawk a;lso receives slightly taller tyres, 12 mm additional ground clearance, raising it to 210 millimetres, underride protection plates and a special front skirt with a much better angle of approach.

This means it is capable of a lot when off-road, even though the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is certainly not a robust, extreme climber like the Jeep Wrangler. Its abilities are nonetheless adequate for "domestic use". It shares the economical interlocking chassis with its classmates, and as such when on rough terrain it often merrily rocks on three wheels through the countryside, with the traction control taking care of the forward propulsion.

Extensive off-road program

The converter clutch of the automatic transmission, in conjunction with the comparatively short ratio in the first gear ensures that you can also tackle very steep roads without any trouble. There are also selectable driving programmes for various terrain formations, for example to adjust the control thresholds for the electronics in deep sludge or sand and to enable more powerfully spinning wheels, which is desirable on such surfaces.

The rotary pushbutton for off-road control provides a mode whereby "4WD Low" can be activated, which is commonly interpreted as being off-road support. In actual fact, the selection of 4WD-Low does not alter the transmission ratio. Instead the traction control is "pre-tensioned" and a mode that allows less wheel slip than in standard mode is activated. The first gear of the automatic transmission is also locked to prevent gearing up. In addition, the accelerator characteristics change, whereupon the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk can be driven more delicately. All in all, more sensitive and precise manoeuvres on difficult terrain are possible in 4WD Low.

However, on account of the altered programming of the traction control in this mode, its intervention also becomes more jerky and uncomfortable than in normal mode, which enables softer intervention with more wheel slip. Nonetheless, on steep climbs 4WD Low is the better choice, as this allows the car to be driven in a more controlled fashion and without the wheels spinning intermittently. It will be interesting to see how many future owners actually insist on having gear reduction in the Jeep RenegadeTrailhawk.

With the effective hill-start assistant and Hill Descent Control in order to master steep descents,, the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is still well equipped for rougher terrain. Among its peers, the afore-mentioned compact SUVs such as the Opel Mokka or Skoda Yeti, the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is without doubt the best suited for off-roading.

The 168 HP diesel has no problem shifting the 1.6-tonne Jeep. Acceleration and drive are at a high level, whereby the automatic transmission successfully conceals the capacity-related lack of torque below 1,500 rpm. With a reported top speed of 196 km/h, the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is the quickest variant in the Renegade series. The steering in the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk seems somewhat subdued and provides little feedback, but is fairly accurate.

Nice details in the interior

The attention to detail in the interior of the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is particularly pleasing. Contrasting trims, the instrument panel with the large colour display in the centre, the design of the air vents – you notice that a great deal of care has gone into elevating the Jeep Renegade above the standard car. The material selection also seems to be of high quality, for example the foam-covered surface of the dashboard.

For a car of this side, the seats in the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk are really comfortable. There is plenty of room to move up front, while on the back seats, which are not mounted too low, there is sufficient space for adults, even though knee-space may be somewhat limited for people of over 1.8 metres in height. The angular design also makes the storage space a little larger than in competitors, and there is also a large storage compartment beneath the loading floor.

Jeep promises much from the new Renegade: the plant in Melfi is designed for an annual capacity of 170,000 units, and the Jeep Renegade is set to be launched in 100 countries. Initially, not all variants will be available at the market launch in October: the basic petrol version with front-wheel drive and the all-wheel drive model with the 168 HP petrol engine will be with us in the second quarter of 2015. A price and an equipment overview can be found via this link.

Conclusion:

With the Renegade, Jeep is bringing an interesting alternative to the compact SUV class. The upright, off-road-style bodywork doesn't make outrageous promises, as the Renegade Trailhawk is actually capable of going further than its class mates.

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Autorenbild Torsten Seibt

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Jeep

Date

17 March 2015
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