2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk: More Transmission Woes
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on August 11, 2016
Our 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk comes with the new ZF-built nine-speed automatic transmission, in case you didn't know. I'm not the first driver in these parts to find it lacking. Back in March, JKav took it to task for general inadequacy, opining that it "kind of ruin(s) every car it's in."
I'll add that I had the Renegade over the weekend, and on three separate occasions, I lifted off the throttle in a low-speed situation and it felt like I'd been rear-ended.
I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it's not. The first occurrence was Friday evening. I accelerated in stop-and-go traffic and then lifted off, and WHAM! Some kind of driveline jolt found its way directly to the seat of my pants. I instinctively checked my rearview mirror, but the car behind me wasn't close enough to have made contact. Apparently the transmission was just confused, and it's got an aggressive way of expressing it.
That made me curious, so I tried to reproduce the problem during the rest of my commute, succeeding once. It happened again organically the following day, when I picked up a friend and was dealing with more traffic. I can't tell you exactly what I did, but it was some combination of accelerate/lift-off at low speeds. WHAM! My friend checked his own rearview mirror to see if we'd been hit. It's not just me.
Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds tells me this is known as the "change in mind" shift condition, and it's the hardest one for engineers to master. I can imagine. Still, I've driven a lot of cars, and aside from maybe some exotic-type machines with single-clutch automated manuals, I've never felt this kind of jolt in what I'd call normal driving on congested roads.
The best transmissions don't draw attention to themselves, right? This one's been making a ruckus.
Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor @ 24,325 miles