2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk: Loyalists & Daredevils
Michael Massey, Vehicle Testing Assistant on August 23, 2016
I don't know if Trailhawk is an accurate description of the 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk. What I do know is that it's capable enough for the average off-road driver. Living up against the western mountainous edge of the San Fernando Valley, I am afforded plenty of cool opportunities to be off-road or on a winding canyon road.
This time, I brought my roommate, Jose, so he could see the Renegade Trailhawk in action. He's been kicking around the idea of purchasing this Jeep for awhile now and he was really interested in its capabilities.The Renegade's four-wheel drive engages with a faint mechanical buzz as I'm looking up a sandy, rocky incline in front of me. Tire ruts from previous off-road comrades lead the way. I've been to this park once or twice before but this time was different.
I crept up the incline. The Renegade tackled its obstacle with ease. I turned the Jeep around and demonstrated its ability to descend the same path. Jose loved it and the 4x4 performed as expected, with limited slip under semi-extreme circumstances. The Jeep knew what it was doing off the beaten path. Once back on asphalt we had a blast carving through Box Canyon Road.
Fun continued with a trek around Chatsworth Reservoir. When I glanced over at Jose, it was clear he was in a quandary. He asked what the Jeep cost. The MSRP of our Renegade is $31,465, so he could find a used Jeep Wrangler at a similar price. Granted, it would be a used Wrangler with a lot more miles, but it was still a valid concern.
Jose contemplated either risking hard-earned money on a new Renegade or investing in a multi-decade proven Wrangler. There's not a clear answer because it comes down to personal preference. I think that you find the majority of shoppers in two camps with this train of thought, loyalists or daredevils.
Loyalists are conservative. They will never hit at the blackjack table when they have an upward facing ace like the Wrangler in front of them. They are less apt to try the Renegade, a vehicle in only its second year of production. The uncertainty presented by the unproven model scares the loyalist, who prefers to sit back and wait for the kinks to be worked out.
Daredevils are a smaller segment of buyers, but very important to the entire process. These are the early adopters. They are the people willing to explore new manufacturer offerings and the general public is willing to follow their lead. Without them we may never know how significant the Tesla Model S is or how far the Mustang IIs were from being pony cars. These are the people, like Jose, that are excited by this new Jeep. From their perspective the Renegade is a strong choice.
The more we talked, it seemed like the Jeep Renegade made sense for Jose. The Renegade had better ride quality as a daily driver, better fuel mileage and more creature comforts. It just fit him better. Let's not forget that the Uconnect system is one of the best in the business. You can get that system at a much lower price point in a Renegade than a comparably priced Wrangler. With ride comfort, fuel economy and a quality infotainment system high on Jose's list, the Renegade was the clear leader.
The bottom line is simple. It will go off-road, achieves reasonable fuel mileage and offers a solid infotainment system. Those things interest him. It may not be the best off-road vehicle but it's plenty capable for the weekend enthusiast. For Jose, this test drive was more than enough for him to be certain. The Renegade is on his shopping list.
Michael Massey, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 23,858 miles