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BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: 2019 JEEP RENEGADE TRAILHAWK 4X4

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As the compact crossover segment grows longer than a CVS receipt, we start to see each brand isolating itself towards a specific demographic. The Mazda CX-3 for example discovers its animated driving incentive, the Honda HR-V loves its city exploration, and the Ford EcoSport… well, we’re still not sure where that fits in. But when it comes to the Jeep Renegade, its agenda is held to a higher standard for the weekend warrior that has to be both energetic and off-road capable.

Our last experience with the Jeep Renegade brought a feisty form of keenness as it was in an entry Sport with a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and manual transmission. However, much has changed over the last four years and there’s been an updated Renegade elevating its off-road territory with more premium and upgraded technology.

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Sixtynining the 1.4-MultiAir engine and six-speed manual, the Renegade now comes standard with the 2.4-liter engine and 9-speed automatic. However, there is a new turbo in town and while smaller in size, the 1.3-liter turbocharged MultiAir four-cylinder engine makes some pretty big numbers. Supported by 210 lb-ft of torque, this little peppy 177-horsepower engine holds quite the spunk value when getting around town. Its quirky attitude keeps pace and relays a joyful experience at city speeds. Still taking 9-seconds to 60 mph, the Renegade feels quicker than it actually is. That is until someone had cut us off, after slamming on the brakes and reapplying the accelerator – that’s when we found the turbo, like a little kid at Disneyland, got lost and was nowhere to be found. The turbo lag can be frustrating at times, but when it’s working, it’s lively.

Whether at low speeds or high speeds, the Renegade’s demeanor upholds an assertive attitude. Its road mannerisms are confident and forgivable. The weighted steering wheel provides balance of supportive handling. And thanks to our upgraded Trailhawk’s off-road suspension, both on and off-road experiences makes driving this cute-ute a joy. Years past, FCA’s nine-speed automatics were an absolute headache; perhaps now they’ve started figuring things out. The nine-speed here is actually lovely. It still never seems to really find itself in high gear, but for the most part is shuffles around fluently.

Like anything Jeep, there are several trim options followed by a long list of available equipment packages and our Renegade Trailhawk, sixth in line to be the top spec’d version starts at $27,545 – followed by nearly $9,000 in packages. Going the Trailhawk way is serious business when it comes to your Jeeping needs. The Trailhawk upgrades the Renegade to off-road ready behavior with standard four-wheel drive, four-wheel low, and a terrain select management system that offers five off-road modes: Auto, Snow, Mud, Rock and Sand. The Trailhawk also gets added protection with front and fuel tank skid plates as well as 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in beefy all-terrain rubber.

As our little Jade the Renegade reached its sticker shock of $36,005 – it was loaded to the gills with every single option available. The only option missing here was the $1295 Advanced Technology Group that supported Automatic High Beam Control, Forward Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Parking Assist, which isn’t available on the Trailhawk trim. As of the 2020 model year, Forward Collision Warning and LaneSense Departure Warning are now a standard feature.

Modified for its mid-cycle refresh, there are little touches of styling cues spruceifying its machoness. With new styled LED headlights and LED taillights as part of the $695 Lighting Group, the Renegade appears more premium and stated. The 17-inch wheels achieve a more aggressive behavior as they’re ready to tackle any terrain. Inside, little details such as the instrument cluster loses its eccentric muddy style gauges for something more laid back and traditional.

Most of the interior has remained as it carries into the new 2020 model year. The $1695 Premium Leather Group added a quality presence to the cabin, while the driver received a power adjustable seat and toasted warm buns. When opting for any FCA product, it is important to know, the Uconnect system is a must have. Costing an extra $1245 in our Renegade brought in Navigation as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – the crystal clear display and easy functionality makes it a no brainer when selecting through the options list. The same goes for the massive $1595 Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof that brings in so much natural light, we felt as if there was endless head room around.

For a small crossover, there is lots of space to be had. The rear seats are accommodating as well as positioned high and upright for a comfortable long distance haul. Rear trunk cargo is sufficient as we never had to lay the seats down to fit any of our camera equipment. If we needed, the seats fold in a 60/40 split per any other vehicle out there.

It’s hard not to point out the elephant in the room, its $36k price tag – the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk starts at $34,195 – and comes equipped with some pretty impressive features, not to mention its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Taking the price out of the equation and the Renegade is quite the well-rounded sub-compact crossover with more to offer than its city life credentials. We can’t say that there are many sub-compact crossovers that can tow 2,000lbs while forging through 19-inches of water.


VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS


Model: 2019 JEEP RENEGADE
Trim: TRAILHAWK 4X4
Starting Price: $27,545
As Tested: $36,005
Color: OMAHA ORANGE


PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS


Engine: 1.3-LITER TURBOCHARGED FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 177-HORSEPOWER / 210 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 9-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Drivetrain: FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE WITH TERRAIN MODE SELECT AND FOUR-WHEEL LOW
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 22-CITY / 27-HWY / 24-COMBINED
AS TESTED: 22.5 MPG COMBINED
Fuel Range: 300 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±9.0 SECONDS


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