2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk: I Would Totally, Absolutely, 100 Percent Buy It
by Matt Jones, Senior Editor on December 31, 2015
For my kid.
I just spent about 20 hours and 1,000 miles in our long term 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk. And although I wouldn't get one for myself, I think it would be great for him.
Not just because my son has the frame of a 90's-era defensive end and the Renegade has gobs of room for a driver of his size, and not just because it's fun, funky, and fits in with the supposed lifestyle that ad agencies would have you believe kids his age lead — beach bonfires, tailgating with guitars, laying on the roof gazing at stars.
I'm sure the Renegade would excel in all such activities. Despite those wins, they aren't the reasons I'd like him to have this car. No, I'm more interested in the car's shortcomings.
Some of the other things that make this thing perfect for him, as a newish driver:
It moves, but it's far from fast. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine does just fine in getting the 3500 pounds up to speed, but there's no chance whatsoever he'd ever be tempted to race somebody in it. None.
It is loud. I don't mean AC/DC concert loud, you understand. But loud enough that wind noise wants to be part of the conversation anytime you get up past 65, 70 mph on the open road. It's easy to not notice how fast you're going in a whisper-quiet car. A little wind noise would keep him on his toes. And that’s okay. It's not made to be mausoleum quiet. I mean how silent would you expect a car to be that adds a splash of mud look to the tach?
Speaking of sound, here's another audible option that makes me like the Renegade for my son. Once you hop in the driver's seat, the Jeep is incredibly good at reminding the driver to click in the seatbelt. I'm not saying that the ding-ding alert is deafening, but it's unlikely anybody will ignore it. And it's insistent.
The Renegade rattles over bumps. The Bluetooth connection isn't the fastest. Sometimes the back-up camera lines work, sometimes they don’t. What other drivers may call quality flaws, I call character builders.
Before you think I'm "throwing shade" on the Jeep, let me say that I'm not. I actually like the Renegade a quite a bit. If I didn't, I wouldn't consider getting one — hypothetically of course — for my one and only offspring.
I like that it isn't pretentious. It doesn't try to elegant you with piano finish this, chrome that, or suede-feel this that or the other (although the heated steering wheel is certainly a welcome touch).
When driving the Renegade, I got the feeling that it wants nothing more than to be a smart, tough compact SUV, one that has a firm sense of its own identity. It's not perfect and it doesn't pretend to be. But it's useful, has durable interior materials, drives well (if not rocket fast) and is fun. I'm all over that.
Oh and Matt Jr., if you're reading this, don't get your hopes up. I'm not buying anybody anything.
Matt Jones, Senior Editor