I actually tested two of the Jeep Renegade Trailhawks here just outside of San Antonio, Texas. One was the color Anvil and the other Omaha Orange. The blue gray shade of Anvil is only available on the top-level Trailhawk.
What you get with the Trailhawk 4×4 is Jeep’s “Trail Rated” badge on the fender and all the hardware underneath to back it up. What’s that ? To start with it has 8.7-inches of ground clearance, nearly an inch more than the standard 4×4 Renegade.
To help it actually do something out in the wild it has the top-end Jeep Active Drive Low all-wheel drive system with a 20:1 crawl ratio. You can lock the center differential for ultimate traction, and of course it has the Selec-Terrain knob on the console with a rock mode.
To protect its soft car-based belly, it gets skid plates and red tow hooks poke out of the front and rear bumpers to give it some off-road cred. It’s kinda cute. And to top off the butched up charade, it gets chunky looking 17-inch wheels with off-roady tires.
All of this enables it to do Jeep like things. It can cross water up to 19-inches deep. It can run down dirt trails. And it can even crawl up rocky hills with a level of credibility that backs up that Trail Rated Badge on its fender.
It feels solid enough out here with an impressive 8.1-inches of wheel articulation, which is honestly a lot for a car-based crossover. And in my day with it I didn’t scrape the bumpers as it does have a 30 plus degree approach and 34 plus degree departure angle.
What’s not so impressive to me is that the Trailhawk is only available with the 2.4 liter Tigershark engine and mandatory 9-speed automatic transmission. It has 180 horsepower which is fine, but this engine remains as rough and thrashy as the old World Engine on which it’s based.
And the clunky 9-speed automatic transmission needs to be chucked and replaced with something else, anything else. Even a CVT would be an improvement. Jeep offers a splendid 1.4 liter turbocharged engine with a six-speed manual in other Renegade models, but unfortunately not in the Trailhawk. Maybe that will change in time.
Sitting behind the wheel of the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk offers up is a mixed bag too. The interior quality and build is decent enough. It leans a bit on the Rubbermaid side of the the materials world, but for a Jeep this is a good thing as Rubbermaid lasts.
It’s design might not appeal to all and the seating position and view out is something I’ve never quite warmed up to. But the good side of this cabin is that it comes in some bright trims and color combinations, and the available MySky removable roof panels are pretty neat.
As tested the price of the Jeep Renegade Trailhawks I tested here came in at $32,000 and some change fully loaded. For a vehicle that starts just under $18,000 this to me is a pretty big piece of cake to swallow.
This is especially a tough math problem when you consider you can get into a far more capable Jeep Wrangler for that kind of change, albeit one not quite as equipped with goodies. But alas the Renegade is far less thirsty of fuel if a daily driver and likely costs less to insure.