When Jeep introduced the Renegade, Jeep afficionados perked up at attention. Could they possibly make a trail-rated mini-ute that wold be fun to drive and, as they say, Trail Rated?

2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk Features

  • 2.4L 4-cyl. 180 hp. motor (1.4L turbo with manual available)
  • 9-speed automatic transmission
  • 8.7 in. ground clearance (Trailhawk edition)
  • 30.5 front and 34.3 rear departure angles
  • Trailhawk includes Selec-Terrain system for snow, sand, mud and rock
  • 166 in. long and 71.0 in. wide
  • Tow hooks and skid plates (Trailhawk edition)
  • Available My Sky removable roof panels
  • MSRP: $28,585
Hanging out atop Loveland Pass in the Colorado Rockies.

Hanging out atop Loveland Pass in the Colorado Rockies.

The Renegade calls any and all roads

After spending a full day off-roading in the Colorado mountains in a Jeep Unlimited, I hopped into a 2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk for the drive home from Denver to Salt Lake City. Opting for the more scenic I-70 route, the Renegade was a fun companion for a quick road trip.

With only 9000 miles on the odometer, this one is just barely broken-in and has a number of great features that help make this mini-ute quite livable as a daily driver. For starters, the electronics package is impressive with intuitive menus and clear displays. The dashboard is quite nice with tons of information at your fingertips. Scrolling through the vehicle’s vitals, trip data, cruise control settings and more. I will say that the splashy redline section of the tachometer is a little tacky — no need for gimmicks like that.

The dials are easy-to-read, but the splashy redline is unnecessary.

The dials are easy-to-read, but the splashy redline is unnecessary.

The steering wheel controls are a little busy and got me confused several times as I tested the mystery buttons on the backside — oops, that’s not the volume (yeah, did that a few times).

The rest of the controls are intuitive and easy-to-use with multiple USB ports, Bluetooth and an aux input to cover all your electronics. Heating and air conditioning is strong with easy-to-grab dials. Auto-up front windows, rain-sensing wipers and push-button start are all nice touches.

Under the hood, the 180 hp. 4-cyl. engine really does quite nicely here. Engine noise is notably muted and power is quite acceptable for this size of a vehicle. With an 8-speed transmission, it doesn’t spend too much time fishing for gears and settles in quite nicely at speed with smooth shifts between gears.

This little boxy SUV was great fun on a Colorado road trip.

This little boxy SUV was great fun on a Colorado road trip.

The ride is as you’d expect from a trail-worthy Jeep. Riding down the freeway, things can get pretty bouncy. In spite of a bouncy ride, the interior cabin is library-quiet and conversations are had without interference. A commanding driving position makes for easy views all-around, making low-speed negotiations quite nice.

Front seat adjustments are a manual affair, which is acceptable, but I wished for additional lumbar support. The rear seats are quite comfortable with ample room, but I wish the seatbacks reclined just a touch more. And, the huge front head restraints may be good for front passengers, but if you are in the rear, they dominate the view.

The interior is intuitive and functional with good electronics.

The interior is intuitive and functional with good electronics.

The full black interior is quite nice and the included rubber mats are a nice touch. Front cupholders in the console are a little small, offering a tight fit for Camelbak bike bottles. The front doors are a little nicer home for bike bottles, but rear passengers have a tight fit for bike bottles — it seems your buddies will be limited in their refreshments of choice.

In the back, the Renegade can swallow a decent amount of gear just fine with side lights to see everything at night.

There is ample clearance for reasonable off-road duty with all critical parts covered by skid plates. But, don’t think this one is quite as capable as a Wrangler, but it should do reasonably well on easy-rated off-road trails.

The Good

  • Fit and finish feels quite nice
  • Cabin is ultra-quiet at speed
  • Nimble little machine
  • Excellent visibility around the vehicle
  • Engine and transmission offer smooth shifts and good power
  • Capable 4WD drivetrain (didn’t test extensively)
  • Dash and electronics are quite nice
  • Seats feel durable without being scratchy and harsh
  • AC and DC power outlets
  • Good get-up for the category

The Bad

  • Bouncy, jarring on-road ride
  • Steering wheel controls are quite busy
  • Cup holders vary wildly in size/shape
  • No really great spot to stash your phone

The Bottom Line: 2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk

After 500 miles and a day in the Colorado Rockies, the Renegade Trailhawk is quite a livable and fun little SUV. It is much more functional in my mind than a Wrangler, but it is also less capable. Fully decked-out, the Trailhawk does get close to $30k, but this is one cool little hauler.

Buy Now: Visit Jeep.com

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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