They’re popping up like dandelion flowers in spring. Jeep’s new Renegade Trailhawk 4X4 that is. They’re sprouting in large numbers on area roadways and it’s easy to see why.
This subcompact SUV is a cute Ute that is Italian built and based on Fiat’s 500X compact AWD sedan. Its design makes it look like a mini Jeep Wrangler, which it isn’t even though it carries Trail Rated badging on the Trailhawk model.
Its stubby hood, tall roof and short wheelbase give it a distinctive look that allows a roomy interior. There are also slight reminders of Jeeps’ heritage with the grille design showing up on interior trim, a Jeep silhouette in the top of the windshield, a Sasquatch in the rear window, topo map design in the seats and image of the Jeep grille in the “X” embossed taillights.
Renegade is offered in both 2WD and 4WD for Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk models. We tested the latter and it had red tow hooks, red interior trim and a black hood decal, all Trailhawk trademarks.
Unlike the Latitude Renegade, the Trailhawk has a higher ground clearance (8.7 inches) and better approach and departure angles of 30.5 and 34.3 degrees, respectively. This allows greater off-road ability be it to slip over small rocks or negotiate steeper inclines.
Trailhawk comes with Jeep’s Active Drive Low 4WD system, which automatically engages the rear wheels since the vehicle is front-drive. But unlike a traditional Jeep Wrangler, it does not have a transfer case or locking differentials as the 4WD Lock selection merely holds the Trailhawk in first gear for a 20:1 crawl ratio. There are also four knob selectable 4WD modes of Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock. There’s also a Downhill mode. It can also ford up to 19 inches of water, rides 0.8 inches higher than the other two models, and has a 2,000-pound tow capacity. These figures surpass most of all other subcompact SUVs on the market.
Trailhawk’s interior is cool looking but the cloth seats are heated as is the burly leather wrapped steering wheel that comes with the $495 Cold Weather Group. Red accents give a black interior a lot of contrast and pizzazz.
The $1,245 Navigation/satellite radio package displays on a 6.5-inch LCD, but there is no rearview camera. The GPS nav wasn’t very detailed. But the system did include Fiat/Chrysler’s UConnect infotainment system that has received a software fix after a recent hacking situation. The cloth seats fore and aft are comfy and semi-supportive. And there’s ample leg and headroom in the back seat with a 21-inch step-in. The cargo area measures 29 inches deep, 38 wide, 30 high with a 31-inch load height. Flip the 60/40 seatbacks and depth extends to a full five feet. And for an extra $1,095 a My Sky Roof is offered with panels that are easily removed and stowed in the vehicle or at home if the weather doesn’t predict precipitation.
Trailhawk is powered by a 2.4-liter, 180-hp inline four-cylinder that generates 175 lb/ft of torque. Coupled to a 9-speed automatic transmission, the combination gets EPA mileage estimates of 21 city, 29-highway mpg. Power wise, the engine takes some time to spool up to its power band and does so at a higher rpm. It has been 0-60 tested at 9.4 seconds. The transmission, however, may have needed a re-calibration because up and down shifts on occasion caused a clank in the drivetrain.
Ride quality on 17-inch Goodyear tires was smooth but somewhat stiff, which is to be expected from a short wheel based 4WD SUV that is designed for off-road use. The vehicle maneuvered easily and parked easily with a rated 35.3 foot turning radius.
The Renegade Trailhawk came with a long list of standard features such as transmission/transfer case/fuel tank and transmission skid plates, hill descent/hill start control, electronic roll mitigation, Select-Terrain system with Rock mode, and much more. The options list not previously listed were Popular Equipment Group ($745), passive/keyless go ($295), tonneau cover ($75), hood decal ($150), remote start ($200) and a delivery of $995, which brought the base price of $25,995 to $30,195. The Trailhawk did come with a full-size spare tire whereas its counterpart, the Fiat 500X, merely has an inflation pump for temporarily fixing a flat.
It’s obvious Jeep has another winner in its fleet of Trail Rated SUVs. It’s positioned below the Wrangler and Cherokee size and performance wise, and priced lower as well.