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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A few days ago, I got to see a 2015 Renegade Trailhawk in the flesh and had a chance to really look it over. Unfortunately, I did not get to drive it. Here are my thoughts (based on having over 4 decades of 4 wheeling experience, a fair amount of it on really challenging trails):


FC does appear to have gotten the ergonomics right on the Renegade--something that Jeep has seldom managed to do very well in the past (I know, I've owned several Jeep products). The interior is comfortable and the controls seem logical. I don't give a darn about all the "Easter Eggs"--they do nothing to enhance the performance of the vehicle.


For the most part, the underbody on the Trailhawk is fairly well protected and ground clearance is adequate, but only adequate. Why didn't Jeep make the tire size on the Renegade a standard size? A big dumb mistake. Underhood, the access is pretty good to everything that an owner would need to regularly check.


I did not get to drive the Trailhawk, much less take one on a really obnoxious trail, but I could conclude some things from looking at the vehicle and its specs, based on my lots of years of 4-wheeling experience. As a "soft-roader" the Trailhawk will likely do fairly well. It should also perform pretty well as a "snow vehicle" for those wanting a vehicle for primarily that duty.


For use on medium difficulty or high difficulty trails, I'm much less optimistic. The Trailhawk's big shortcoming there is likely to be the old "torque vs. gearing" dilemma. Simply stated, the higher speed (lower ratio) gearing the vehicle has, the more low-RPM torque the engine has to provide to overcome the gearing deficiency for slow-speed crawling in severe trail use. Jeep brags that the Trailhawk sports a "crawl ratio" of around 20:1 in first gear--that would be adequate in a high-torque-at-low RPM V8 engine/automatic transmission equipped 4WD, but the Jeep's 2.4L inline 4 only develops 175 lbs./ft. of torque, and most of that only at high RPM. Worse yet, the reverse crawl ratio on the Trailhawk is only 16.5:1--rule here is that the reverse crawl ratio should be as low or lower speed than the forward crawl ratio. Not so with the Trailhawk.


Compare that with my Jeep Cherokee that, by the way, weights just about the same as the Trailhawk. My Cherokee has a first gear low-range crawl ratio of around 27.0:1, BUT it has a 4.0 liter inline 6 that develops 225 lbs./ft. of torque, and with much of that just off of idle. Go to a Wrangle Rubicon and the first gear low range crawl ratio is over 45:1 with an automatic transmission. Bottom line here: In my opinion, to be a really decent off-roader, the Renegade Trailhawk needs a crawl ratio of at least 30:1 and 40:1 would be better. For hard-core off road use, the lack of a lower crawl ratio will be the Renegade Trailhawk's biggest off-roading limitation. Making the diesel engine available in Europe an available option in the US would help a lot, as well. Turbodiesels develop most of their torque at lower RPM's, and that would help the off-road performance (and fuel economy) of the Renegade Trailhawk greatly.


Finally, the big unanswered question about the Renegade for me remains reliability and durability. Jeep has had issues with reliability for years--often in non-critical, but expensive to repair electrical system, engine control, transmission control, and emission control issues. Some posts on this forum indicate to me that Jeep is having issues with some of those same things on the Renegade.


I currently own two Jeeps. At this point, I'm unlikely to trade either to buy a Renegade Trailhawk, though I admit the Trailhawk would likely be more comfortable and enjoyable to drive on the highway than my current Jeeps. If Jeep refines a few things about the Renegade Trailhawk--lower trail gearing, diesel engine option, standard tire sizes, better reliability--well, then I might be interested.


PS--Don't believe Jeep's "Trail Rated" garbage. I own a "Trail Rated" 2005 Jeep Liberty CRD (turbodiesel). In its factory "Trail Rated" trim, it had less than 7" of minimum ground clearance, it had a soft and inadequate front suspension, and it lacked any skid plating to protect the undercarriage. It is now truly "Trail Rated," but it took my addition of skid plating , 3" suspension lift with heavy duty springs and shocks, and larger tires to get it there--over $3K of modifications to be exact. A 25 cent badge doesn't make a vehicle "Trail Rated," notwithstanding Jeep's hype about it.
 

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Thanks for the input. I haven't taken mine on the trails yet, & don't have much 4WD experience. I will be happy with mine just doing the lighter trails. Others on the Forum have posted video clips of trails they have done that seem to me much more moderate & the TH seemed to do really well. Will be interested to hear your thoughts if/when you have a chance to drive one & especially on some trails.....
 

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I'm one of those "snow vehicle" people.

I did drive my Trailhawk through a drainage ditch near my house a few times just for fun today. Dug up a chunk of grass and dirt with my front right tow hook. Picked up a grasshopper hitchhiker. Yee-haw!

I'm king of the drainage ditch!
 

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Valid points, however, while all things Renegade might be new to you, there are already plenty of videos out there from owners and Jeep itself to show it to be quite capable.

Is it as capable as the original Cherokee or a Wrangler of any generation? Of course not. It was never meant to be, designed to be or marketed as such. Anyone thinking otherwise is grossly mistaken. Try getting close to 30 MPG and drive comfortably in the city or long trips on paved roads with those other two.

What the Renegade is, it's a contemporary car-based CUV that possesses unrivaled off-road capability (in TH form)—in this specific class of vehicles.

Comparing the Renegade to the Wrangler, or your old Cherokee is moot. Apples to oranges. A better, apples to apples, comparison would be like this—Renegade TH vs Subaru VX Crosstrek vs Mini Countryman 4wd. Where the dirt road turn into uneven ruts with 50 lb small boulders strewn about, the TH can keep going while the other two unpack and set up camp. Mechanically it is not a Jeep in the traditional sense, but it possesses the spirit of the brand.

Mild to moderate unpaved roads and trails are fine for the TH, so long as that moderate trail doesn't get too steep where lack of torque to weight ratio make forward progress a challenge.

On a scale of 10 for go-anywhere-ness... if the Wrangler is a 10, the Renegade TH would be a 2 or 3... while the Kia Soul would be a solid "nope".
 

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A better, apples to apples, comparison would be like this—Renegade TH vs Subaru VX Crosstrek vs Mini Countryman 4wd. Where the dirt road turn into uneven ruts with 50 lb small boulders strewn about, the TH can keep going while the other two unpack and set up camp.
You might want to rethink the comment about the Subaru XV... while it doesn't have a "crawl ratio" or quite as aggressive approach and departure angles, it will go a lot farther in keeping up with a TH than the MINI ever will. (And unlike the MINI, or the Renegade, with a Subaru you'll never be on a first name basis with your local service department employees.)
 

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You might want to rethink the comment about the Subaru XV... while it doesn't have a "crawl ratio" or quite as aggressive approach and departure angles, it will go a lot farther in keeping up with a TH than the MINI ever will. (And unlike the MINI, or the Renegade, with a Subaru you'll never be on a first name basis with your local service department employees.)
No rethink necessary. The comment (and pretty much the original post) is centered around off-road capability.

The VX is capable. But, with lack of low crawl and having less torque, it has limits. The Renegade TH has an edge over the VX, but slight. The mini is far more street oriented among the trio and one would have to be brave to take it off-road... it's gonna get expensive in a hurry.

Still my comment stands true. These CUVs and the Wrangler are in totally different classes.
 

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Still my comment stands true. These CUVs and the Wrangler are in totally different classes.
It was a nice technical critique right up until you started dismissing everything not a wrangler and lumping it together. This is where the criticism bothers me. I mean, literally, did ANYONE, ANYWHERE, think that the renegade was a wrangler replacement or state such?

The wrangler crowd (well a certain chunk of them) just makes the assumption that every jeep ever made is intended to be a Wrangler replacement. Which is both untrue, and kind of weird to assume. Kind of like all the wrangler owners are worried that outside of a certain niche, it's an awful vehicle for day to day driving that most people wouldn't buy twice, and thus anything even remotely capable while being more pleasant is a threat beyond measure and the monkey part of their brain must start flinging poop.

EVERYONE knows it isn't a wrangler. The only question regarding off-roading is how far can it go out of the box, and how far can it go when modified.

It occupies a spot someplace in between the vast majority of the CUV market, and a wrangler sport, and I'm pretty sure everyone gets that. Beyond that, seeing how far people have pushed the subaru forester, outback, and XV, I'm pretty sure that vast swaths of the US population simply don't have access to a large amount of genuinely challenging terrain.

As a product choice, it's a great vehicle if they get it sorted out. It is good in bad weather, it deals with our decaying roadways much better than a lot of other choices, it's comfy, it's reasonably affordable. This is the kind of vehicle needed if a company like Jeep is going to keep Wrangler around in a reasonable form for a loyal niche audience. I've known a lot of wrangler owners, somewhere in the mid twenties. The number drops drastically when you cut it down to those who have purchased one twice less than 10. Three plus? One. The majority of them moved on to something jeep doesn't offer, but could. The renegade and a mid sized truck would go a long way in augmenting the brand's ability to retain those customers.
 

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It was a nice technical critique right up until you started dismissing everything not a wrangler and lumping it together. This is where the criticism bothers me. I mean, literally, did ANYONE, ANYWHERE, think that the renegade was a wrangler replacement or state such?
ummm... me... to be totally honest.
:redface:
Well let me clarify, When I first heard /read about it, the following stayed in my head...
1-It was a Jeep, and one of the versions was Trail Rated.
2-It was better on gas, and
3-It had a removable roof type of system.
So naturally I assumed it was a mini Wrangler or at least a more modern (gas and features wise) version of a Wrangler. At the very least Wrangler like.
As I researched more and more and then finding the forum, I learned it was in a class in itself. Seeing one in person and it was way better than I expected. I was hooked.

As a product choice, it's a great vehicle if they get it sorted out. It is good in bad weather, it deals with our decaying roadways much better than a lot of other choices, it's comfy, it's reasonably affordable. This is the kind of vehicle needed if a company like Jeep is going to keep Wrangler around in a reasonable form for a loyal niche audience. I've known a lot of wrangler owners, somewhere in the mid twenties. The number drops drastically when you cut it down to those who have purchased one twice less than 10. Three plus? One. The majority of them moved on to something jeep doesn't offer, but could. The renegade and a mid sized truck would go a long way in augmenting the brand's ability to retain those customers.
Totally agree. On point.

TS
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
As a product choice, it's a great vehicle if they get it sorted out. It is good in bad weather, it deals with our decaying roadways much better than a lot of other choices, it's comfy, it's reasonably affordable. This is the kind of vehicle needed if a company like Jeep is going to keep Wrangler around in a reasonable form for a loyal niche audience. I've known a lot of wrangler owners, somewhere in the mid twenties. The number drops drastically when you cut it down to those who have purchased one twice less than 10. Three plus? One. The majority of them moved on to something jeep doesn't offer, but could. The renegade and a mid sized truck would go a long way in augmenting the brand's ability to retain those customers.
It's that "if they get it sorted out" part that is troublesome. I think that the Renegade Trailhawk could fill its niche in the market quite well if these things get sorted out:

1. The 2.4 Tigershark engine has been roundly criticized by nearly everyone from the common driver to automotive journalists to Consumer Reports as being a buzzy, underperforming, not particularly fuel-efficient engine in every vehicle model in which it has been used. It needs to be replaced by a better gasoline engine or the turbodiesel engine available outside the US in the Renegade.

2. The bugs need to get worked out of the 9-speed automatic transmission--it has had problems in every vehicle model in which it has been installed, too.

3. FC needs to address the continuing reliability and quality control problems across its whole vehicle line. FC's customers shouldn't have to pay to beta-test not-ready-for-prime-time products.

Fix those things and the Renegade could be a real success. Don't and it will become just one more Chrysler product that never met its potential.
 

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It's that "if they get it sorted out" part that is troublesome. I think that the Renegade Trailhawk could fill its niche in the market quite well if these things get sorted out:
It's number three in the segment, four if you count the soul which stomps on every other make and model there. It displaced honda, and is pretty close to moving numbers that max out north american allocation from the melfi plant capacity. Arguing it is underperforming is a non-starter.

1. The 2.4 Tigershark engine has been roundly criticized by nearly everyone from the common driver to automotive journalists to Consumer Reports as being a buzzy, underperforming, not particularly fuel-efficient engine in every vehicle model in which it has been used. It needs to be replaced by a better gasoline engine or the turbodiesel engine available outside the US in the Renegade.
Most of the buzz and chatter comes from the multi-air valve train implementation. multi-air simply isn't going away. For it's displacement and stats, performance is on par with the competition. Fuel economy is not. FCA is prepping the hurricane engine for release, and that marks a move to modularize all markets off of the global engine platform. It probably won't be any less chattery, but it will hopefully be more fuel efficient.

2. The bugs need to get worked out of the 9-speed automatic transmission--it has had problems in every vehicle model in which it has been installed, too.
I think they largely have been. The real issues so far seem to be sensors and the spanish AWD system.

3. FC needs to address the continuing reliability and quality control problems across its whole vehicle line. FC's customers shouldn't have to pay to beta-test not-ready-for-prime-time products.
EVERYONE is a beta tester, of everything. It's part of the do more with less culture of business. In the face of increasingly complex systems, that paradigm gets you more ticking boxes. As for QC, FCA seems to be taking improving more seriously than daimler or cerberus did, they just have to get faster at it IMO.

Fix those things and the Renegade could be a real success. Don't and it will become just one more Chrysler product that never met its potential.
Jeeps line up is pretty successful. In europe, the renegade has moved over 27,000 units in the first six months of 2015. That's more than the entire jeep line up sold in the EU in 2013 before it was introduced... by about 5000 units. It's about 4000 units short of total 2014 jeep sales minus 2014 renegade numbers. It's a success there. It shipping good numbers in the US as well, and doing so without noticeably cannibalizing jeep sales.

It may not be as good a car as it could be, but it IS a success, and it's a heck of a step up compared to anything they offered at about the same price if they sort out QC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
^One of the reasons that the Renegade is a big seller in Europe is that it is available there with a diesel engine option that jumps its fuel economy into the high 30's mpg (US gallons) range while offering much better low end torque and high altitude performance at the same time.


As to reliability, Jeep has been making a poor showing there pretty much since the 1970's. About its most reliable offering--still not up to Toyota or Honda reliability--was the XJ Cherokee in its last 4 or so years of production. Of course, it took over a decade of substandard reliability in that model to get it there. The Wrangler has never gotten there, nor have the two incantations of the Liberty, nor multiple versions of the Grand Cherokee. Unfortunately, I think that there is a "as long as it sells, we don't care" mentality in Chrysler corporate culture that just won't seem to go away.


I firmly believe that, if Jeep built the Trailhawk so that it would be reliable, it could very well knock the Subaru Forester off of the pedestal as the best snow country vehicle. One thing that Toyota and Subaru have proved over and over is that American drivers will accept vehicles with buzzy engines and modest performance when the vehicle is dead reliable and doesn't spend its time broken down on the side of the road or sitting for days or weeks on end at a dealer waiting for repairs.
 
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