2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk: Detroit to L.A. — Day 1
by Mike Magrath, Features Editor on January 29, 2016
I briefly considered abandoning our 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk in Detroit. It was 11 degrees when I stepped out of the hotel where the Jeep was waiting. The last time I'd driven the Renegade, I vowed never to drive it again, yet here I was, about to spend 2,200-ish miles with it. Tipping the valet $50 to dump it in a river and then jumping the first flight out sounded appealing.
I manned-up, hopped in to find that the seat heaters and steering wheel heater were already cranking. My phone paired automatically. Not bad. Maybe I won't leave it.
Travis took the fun route. He went places and saw things. I've done that in the past so this time, I'm just straight-lining it. This wouldn't be a road trip as much as a beeline home. Some road trips are about the road, this one would be about the car.
The route from Detroit to somewhere past Chicago was annoying. Speed was low. Roads were sporadically icy. The only notable thing was that despite having a full tank leaving Detroit, I didn't make it anywhere near Chicago when I had to make the first fuel stop.
Illinois goes by quick in much the same way that Iowa doesn't. The most notable thing that happens along Interstate 80 is that the Renegade, despite its boxiness, doesn't care about wind. The crosswind was sharp and the semis were swaying. Litter flew across the highway at breakneck pace while the little Jeep remained steady. Wind noise crept in from the sideview mirrors and the top of the windshield, as happens when you've got a 75-mph speed limit and 30-mph side winds, but the Jeep was stable.
The only thing that disrupted the Renegade was a high-speed pass of a semi. I learned my lesson, slowed down, and stayed about 5 mph faster than the truck for the rest of the trip.
By Nebraska, I'd already filled the tank four times, averaging about 250 miles per fill-up. Just over 1,000 miles from where I left, more annoyed than tired, I stopped for the night.
Please re-read that last bit. After 1,000 miles in a tiny, four-cylinder Jeep, I only stopped because I couldn't mentally deal with another fuel stop. The Jeep's exceptional seating position and seats, great visibility and relative quietness kept me happy for hours. If the Renegade had a tolerable-size fuel tank, I'd have made Denver easy.
At the end of the first leg, I was impressed. But the next section of the trip was built to challenge the Renegade. The speed limit rises to 80 mph and the endless plains turn into steep grades.
Mike Magrath, Features Editor @ 12,984 miles