In the past few years, I’ve driven the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk all over Moab, Utah; Hollister, California’s ORV park; and now Gold Mine Hill right here in beautiful Colorado. For those of you who have yet to see our little obstacle course, it’s a somewhat challenging hill for somewhat capable off-road vehicles.
During the winter, it’s nearly impossible to finish the first of three obstacles, unless the vehicle has excellent snow tires. When it’s dry, the path is rocky and a tad slick. After nearing the top on the rocky road, the test vehicle comes to a stop before making an off-camber left turn. Once again, when snow is on the ground, it’s very challenging. Otherwise, it’s a bit of a challenge to regain traction (after stopping) and making the sharp turn without clobbering a tree.
The final obstacle is a steep hill with a massive rut. This hill is only passable by a few vehicles. Tires have to be good, articulation must be better than average and the off-road system must be intelligent enough to figure out how to transfer power around – rapidly.
To say the 2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk was challenged may be a bit of an overstatement. I would say it was lightly challenged. Traction was lost in a few places and it had to work to figure it out, but, with a bit of patience, all was sorted. When used as directed, the Jeep Selec-Terrain system is hard to fault.
Not everything is perfect. The 180 hp, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder makes 175 lbs-feet of torque – that’s less torque than the peppy 1.4-liter (184 lb-ft) you get in the base model. It ain’t fast. The 9-speed automatic transmission is perfectly happy to channel the buzzy horses to the rubber, but it can be slow-shifting when pushed. Off-road, it works well, but playing with the manual control seems to befuddle the works.
Leaving the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk to figure things out on its own is the best bet.
You’ll see an uncharacteristically mellow drive and only a few thrills. Why? That’s exactly what Jeep wanted out of their baby Renegade Trailhawk. Push a few buttons, twist a dial and enjoy the ride. Watch the video and you’ll see what I’m talking about.