2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk: It's Not the Liberty
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor on September 29, 2016
We've whipped on our 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk for a few glaring flaws, most notably a witless transmission that some readers think would be fixed with a software update (we aren't keeping this thing long enough to find out).
But as I was driving the Renegade recently, probably for the last time, I spotted an early Jeep Liberty and thought, "Well, at least it's not that."
I speak from experience. My mom was so starry-eyed when I bought my 2001 Jeep Cherokee — Last of the Real Cherokees! End of the XJ! — that she wanted a Jeep of her own. She'd already paid her dues years before, logging many miles in a mid-80's Cherokee, but preferred the new Liberty's compact size and better on-road manners.
That thing was a disappointment. It was back at the dealer for warranty service after only a couple of months. There were some electronic gremlins and minor fit-and-finish problems within the first 10,000 miles. Not catastrophic stuff, but annoying.
Also, Mom's Jeep wasn't getting any better fuel economy than my XJ. I think she owned it for less than two years before trading it for something else I can't recall. It's not a fondly remembered car in the family.
The Liberty had a good 10-year run and made some fans, but I don't think it measured up as the XJ replacement that Jeep had in mind. And as crossovers got lighter and more fuel-efficient, the Liberty couldn't keep up. I think history will judge the Renegade more kindly, especially as the transmission improves. The Renegade won't be a first choice for the "It's a Jeep Thing" faithful, but it'll be a fun, favorite first Jeep for many, something the Liberty couldn't quite pull off.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor