2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk Is a Surprise New Little Hit

I finish out the class of 2016 with a vehicle that features a legendary name but actually arrives from a little boot-shaped country in the Mediterranean. The Jeep Renegade compact off-roader came to be thanks to the corporate influence of Fiat and proved to be quite a surprise of a vehicle.

I was a bit skeptical when I first learned of a Jeep/Fiat alliance for the new Renegade but after spending a week behind the wheel I actually prefer this model over the Compass and Patriot models that have been in the Jeep fleet for quite some time. I give the nod to the Renegade in all areas including styling, powertrain, amenities, capability, etc. I would recommend this model over those other two any day of the week and quite honestly feel it should have replaced those dated models.

Powering the new Renegade is the Fiat 2.4-liter Tigershark inline four-cylinder engine or the peppy little 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo four. The Tigershark is mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox while the Turbo is paired with a six-speed manual transmission (yes, you can get a turbo motor with a manual tranny in this little off-roader). Our tester arrived in the Trailhawk 4×4 trim level and featured nearly every option available on this model line and despite its somewhat diminutive size the Renegade Trailhawk offers rugged good looks (along with Jeep’s Trail Rating and off-road capabilities).

We enjoyed driving around town with the 180hp Tigershark 2.4-liter engine and nine-speed auto that gave us plenty of power and acceleration when needed but never got overly loud or harsh as some four-cylinder powerplants tend to demonstrate. The Renegade rode very stable even in corners and offered a surprisingly smooth on-road feel and quiet cabin. Seating proved to be ample for four adults and the grandkids really liked riding around in back as well. The second-row seat is tight for three passengers and will not accommodate three car seats, but Renegade is perfect for four no matter how you mix up the combination.

The new Jeep Renegade arrives in 4×2 and 4×4 configurations. Renegade was the first FCA US vehicle to utilize the new corporate small-wide 4×4 architecture that is now also used on the Fiat 500x crossover. The fully independent suspension offers wheel articulation up to 8.1 inches and ground clearance up to 8.7 inches. Renegade is the first Jeep to integrate Koni’s frequency selective damping front and rear strut system that leads to the very good on-road driving characteristics. For those taking your Renegade off of pavement, you will be taken care of by Jeep’s Active Drive or Active Drive Low 4×4 systems. There is also the Jeep Selec-Terrain system where drivers dial in their weather or surface conditions of Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud, and even Rock mode in Trailhawk editions.

Our Trailhawk tester also added 20:1 crawl ratio, skid plates, signature red front and rear tow hooks, unique front and rear fascias for improved approach, breakover, and departure angles when off-roading, unique 17-inch aluminum wheels with all-terrain tires, hill descent control, water fording up to 19 inches, and 2,000 lb. tow capability. Trailhawk also adds badge-specific paint and decal packaging.

Inside the Renegade, occupants will enjoy all the latest Jeep amenities and technology including Uconnect 5.0 infotainment system with touchscreen display, integrated voice command, and Bluetooth connectivity, 7-inch color cluster display, leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant system controls, leather-trimmed seating with power front seats, heated steering wheel, remote start system, and blind spot and cross path detection. Overhead we enjoyed the My Sky roof system with power retractable/removable panels.

Pricing for the 2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk began at $26,495 with our loaded tester arriving at $31,400. Fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway for this 4×4 model.

The new Jeep Renegade may speak with an Italian accent but it is making itself right at home here in America. It embodies nearly everything that is Jeep and features rugged, boxy styling with softened edges. It was a surprise how much I enjoyed driving this vehicle and it is a model I will be recommending to those shopping the small utility segment.

Please be aware that we sometimes place affiliate links in our posts. If you make any purchases through those affiliate links, you will be supporting this site with a small percentage of your sale. Thank you.


About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.