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OK, I'm just shy of 6'7" and about 250lbs. 37" inseam and 39" sleeve. I went to my local auto mega dealership with something like 12 brands on site and did back to back test sits/test drives. Something to note is that the jeep web page has some issues with some dealers inventory. This particular one has never come up for my trailhawk searches despite them actually having one, and doesn't even come up with the model I test drove. So check your local dealers' listed inventories, and don't just rely on the jeep home page.


So first up the rogue. The handle on the headliner rests about an inche form my temple, so it failed the "will this car possibly paralyze you in a low speed parking lot collision" test. About all I can say is nissan is making some very comfy seats these days, and pricing on the rogue is very attractive for the level of fit and finish inside.


Next up is the CX-5:

It has a very nicely done interior that's abit on the minimalist side of things. I test drove the cx-5 touring with moon roof and bose stereo, but without the tech package, and it felt like the thing had no controls on the center column (it had two dials, a know, a switch, and three buttons in reality, but felt like less). I'd put the feel and materials on par with maybe acura or volvo. I could sit comfortably in the drivers seat in several positions, and sit comfortably in the back seat behind the drivers seat just fine when adjusted as such. Everyone on the planet extolled the handling of it as sporty, but I'd call it very sedan like. Very smooth and a bit insulating. In fact, smooth is the key word I'd use to describe it. I couldn't set off the ABS panic breaking. Acceleration felt overly smoothed out and slower than it actually was. It was a bit of a let down compared to most reviews, but mostly in a manner that they lead me to expect something entirely different. Something spirited and fun. What I got was comfy and competent and a bit insulating. The most memorable things were that the bose upgraded stereo sounded awesome in the front seats and like crap in the back seats. Like shockingly different sound levels of different. The car had really nicely done fold down seating releases like door handles in the hatch area that worked very nicely to control the 40/20/40 split seats. Very slick and nice. I was surprised how much storage space you had as well although the donut spare was pretty comical looking. Seats were decent both front and rear although front was, as usual, much more comfy than the back.

CX-5 tall person notable things: The liftgate gets pretty high. I usually get the sharp sheet metal edge about eye level, and clip my forehead with it pretty painfully when I have failed to duck enough in most single piece lift gates in the past. With this one, I got the padded corner of the door card if I clipped it at all. The turn signals are also in a good place. Last car had the horrible combination of quiet turn signals AND having them hidden by the steering wheel. Also of note is that the tilt/telescoping steering wheel has LOTS of adjustment. I didn't even need to have the seats pushed all the way back. Also important is that despite fitting well, there's not gobs of head room, so my eyes are still pretty close to the top of the windshield. This kind of sucks for street signs, but wait theres a moon roof! But wait some more, the moon roof is like a foot back from the windshield, so doesn't really help much there. Some, but not much. Both the door and center armrests were very usable by me, which is not normally the case.

Worst things about the car: The side mirrors are SMALL and help out with the blind spots very little. The touch screen is a bit laggy. I think it goes a bit past smoothing out the rough edges to dulling a fun drive a bit. The sport/econ switch is pointless. Yes it makes it hold a gear longer, and you can hear the high revs, but driving wise it feels pretty much exactly the same on or off.

Best thing about the car: Driver/Passenger space and the upgraded stereo for front seat dwellers.


The renegade:
I drove a sport with the 2.4 auto and 4x4 package. I wasn't thrilled by this, but it was all they had that weren't still fully cocooned for transit.

The renegade was a much more trucky (kind of) feel. It bounced and jostled and vibrated more than most modern CUVs and sedans are set up for. However, the seats were better sprung than you usually find in cars these days so as the driver it's not like my spine was getting abused. Space in the interior is... odd. It's got a bit of a funhouse effect where there's where things look like they are, and where they actually are, and the two aren't necessarily the same. It took me a bit to get used to it, but my sales droid who's experience with the renegade amounted to driving it across the lot to pick me up seemed a bit disconcerted by the whole thing for the entire test drive. I really liked the speed adaptive steering although I have to wonder where the "heaviness" tops out. from parking lot to 65 I thought was good, but if it gets much heavier than that, I'd definitely take issue. I also had to wonder what it would behave like if the alignment was off. Does the programmed in "heft" try to pull it off going straight that hard because the sensors say so, or does it take it in stride? I also like the way the suspension behaved when you took corners more aggressively. I think they nailed a very nice compromise of fun and utilitarian. The engine is a chattery little bugger though. It's weird. You think the sound insulation sucks until you relaize that bumps and such aren't loud and booming it's just all engine. Oddly enough you also think it must be incredibly noisy from the outside too, but it's not really bad. The valve train chatter just really slices through the sound insulation like a hot knife through butter. I liked the bolstering on the seats, but they are shaped weird. They push forward on your shoulders and have like zero lumbar support. I definitely want to check out something higher up the food chain than the sport, and test sit it for longer before I make up my mind. I really liked the mirrors, and the greenhouse forward of the C pillar. I did not like the visibility out the back. Everything rear of the C pillar was pretty bad visibility wise. The transmission was pretty normal feeling, but I don't know if I ever got past 5th gear without hard acceleration. Overall, compared to similarly priced vehicles it's a bit uncivilized, but it made me crack a smile driving it.

I can't speak to the stereo or anything like that because none of the electronic stuff appeared to be functioning in the car. I think the only renegade that was really fully prepped was the one in the showroom. Also impacted by this was the steering wheel adjustment. I didn't think to test it out in the showroom, and the demo had it all wrapped up with foam sheeting, so I couldn't get it to adjust very well.

Oh of note, the a-pillars aren't that bad. THe driver side one, visually, only blocks about a half inch more than my 2005 legacy GT a-pillars. The passenger side one is worse, but you don't have to worry about cross traffic making a right in the US. It also isn't big enough to hide a car along side of you. The only real problem is it IS big enough to hide a pedestrian at a cross walk for a couple of steps, so move your head about and check.

Renegade notable tall people things:
Lots of head room for a small car. With the seat bottomed out, I had at least 4 inches of headroom. The turn signals on the dash are almost impossible to block, and have a nice 90's era clickiness to them even if they were. the liftgate lifts pretty high, and almost clears my head. I'm wondering if the trailhawk will clear it entirely. I use my side mirrors set wide much like the standard BMW instructions on adjusting side view mirrors. Doing this puts them very near the limit of their range of motion in at least one direction. I went a bit far on initial adjustment and was afraid I had gotten them stuck. The box behind the mirror feels like it is REALLY in the way, especially coming from a not very tall sedan. If it is going to really interfere iwth anything, it's going to be you seeing signage while navigating, not you seeing traffic that might kill you.

Worst thing about the car: The plastic finishes. First the fake matte aluminum. Not for even a FRACTION of a second does my brain ever go.. hey that's aluminum. In fact it looks so much like it is not for things like the decorative bezels, your brain doesn't even compare it and sort of accepts they did this colored/textured plastic thing and that's perfectly fine. But that's because you aren't staring at it or touching it. It feels cheap, or at least not right, and putting it on the interior door handles was a mistake in my opinion. It doesn't feel good to the touch, and it feels like it will wear off quickly. Also, having it on the dials in the dash cluster seems like a really bad call. You look at those things a lot, and the fact that the dials protrude rather than having been recessed doesn't help. It's odd styling with a less than stellar finish applied and to be brutally honest, had me feeling like I was checking out something in the power wheels aisle with my kid at toys r us. The other bad thing was the poorly executed chrome accents on the HVAC knobs. It's like the only piece of cheap fake chrome there and feels very parts bin. Not to mention it looks like the mold they were pulled out of was not particularly good. No other car I looked at that made use of vacuum plated plastic chrome accents had the kind of wavy look these had. It was both out of place with the rest of the interior and poorly executed on that sample.

Best thing about the car: The green house forward of the c-pillar. It REALLY, REALLY made me aware how far up the belt lines on cars have been creeping over the years. It was just very pleasing to be able to see so much out the front and sides. The suspension steering combo was a close runner up.


CX-5 vs. the renegade:
They both did a stellar job with making the vehicle fit a wide range of people in the space alloted. I'm glad to see that the industry as a whole seems to be making the whole single piece lift gate thing less awful. If I had been locked in a closet the last 4 years and you had me test drive both telling me that one advertised itself as having sporty handling and reviewers had gushed about it all over the place for multiple years, there is no way I would have been able to tell you that it was the cx-5 they were talking about. The renegade felt faster (it wasn't, hard acceleration to 45 was about the same, and hard acceleration to 60-65 it was measurably a tad slower), and definitely felt more lively, connected to the road, and unfiltered. Without the blind spot monitoring, the renegade was definitely better prepared for merges and lane changes. If you are planning on road trips with more than two people, the cx-5 is better on space. Cargo wise, for taller objects they probbaly aren't that different, but for things like grocery bags, the cx-5 has a significant advantage for cargo space. The cx-5 interior is nicer and more consistent. The renegade is a bit of a mixed bag on materials.

Price wise, similarly equipped they are priced withing a couple hundred bucks of each other. The renegade is a bit cheaper if you get there via the limited route, or a bit more expensive if you get there by the trailhawk route, etiher way you don't get a moon roof but most of the rest is the same. However, the CX-5 has incentives and bigger dealer discounts so is effectively cheaper. It's also just better built, bigger, and gets better mileage. It's the more sensible car, but I don't like it nearly as much as the renegade. The question is how many years until that flips? In 6 years, 8 years, 10 years, probably the worst thing I'd feel about the mazda is that it si boring and a bit dated looking. The renegade? I'm not really sure. I definitely need to test the trim level I want with all the bits working before I can even guess. Realistically, the seats are probably going to make it or break it before anything else. The lumbar support or lack thereof is going to be a deal killer if the higher trim level seating doesn't put up a better showing.
 

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Awesome write-up. Hopefully you get to do the same for the Trailhawk version.
I would have to sit in one again to judge the aluminum/plastic finishes. Didn't really paid attention to them at the auto show.

TS
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Resetting the infotainment system might clear up its laggyness. If it works on some personal computers, it might also be the case for these systems.

Overall, great write up, thanks for sharing.
Maybe. I'm not sure that the CX-5 screen is not a resistive touch screen rather than a capacitive touch screen. If controlled from the hard buttons, it didn't have as much issues, so I'm inclined to think it is the touch screen that was laggy or it just has a poor touch polling algorithm for swipes.
 

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Great review! I'm also a tall guy and really appreciate how you go into the details most reviews skip over.

I test drove a Trailhawk model and felt that the altered interior finishings make a big difference. Comes off looking more upscale and the seats with the Moab-trim look and feel much better. If you haven't already done so, take a look at a Trailhawk model which should be a lot easier to find on lots now.

I would like to know your thoughts on the Trailhawk vs. the CX-5 touring. Price, space and features favor the Mazda, but the TH is better for camping, snowboarding and off-roading.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Great review! I'm also a tall guy and really appreciate how you go into the details most reviews skip over.

I test drove a Trailhawk model and felt that the altered interior finishings make a big difference. Comes off looking more upscale and the seats with the Moab-trim look and feel much better. If you haven't already done so, take a look at a Trailhawk model which should be a lot easier to find on lots now.

I would like to know your thoughts on the Trailhawk vs. the CX-5 touring. Price, space and features favor the Mazda, but the TH is better for camping, snowboarding and off-roading.
Well, I bought a trailhawk after finally getting a test drive in one, so that should say something. There were a number of things that the TH had going for it that improved my impression over the sport I initially tried out.

1) Having the 7" display in the center made the speedo and tach look less cheesy.

2) The upgraded upholstery was much more pleasing, and the red trim pieces ot match the red stitching moved from looking like a bad simulation satin aluminum to being simply accent color.

3) I got to test drive one in a color I actually liked rather than black white or gray.

4) Being fully unpacked form transport, I could fully adjust the tilt and telescoping steering wheel.

What had me pick the renegade was the following

1) the renegade really fit better. I have a 37" inseam, and this is the first time I have run into a vehicle I can get my legs under the steering wheel outside of a full sized van or a tahoe/suburban. Roughly 50% of the adjustment range of each of the three adjustments on the driver's seat were usable by me.

2) although I'm sure lots of people would disagree with me, I liked the way the renegade handled better. It felt truckier in it's ride characteristics, which isn't "sporty and composed", but the cx-5 felt dead and lifeless in handling despite being stable and composed. THe renegade had much better driver feedback. Also, while the cx-5 may have been praised for its electric power steering, my reaction to it was along the lines of "wow, this feels jsut as good as hydraulic power steering" while my feeling was about the renegade's electronic power steering was that they used the technology to make something that behaved better than hydraulic. They just really got the driver feedback and variable level of assist really right.

3) Good/bad handling aside, especially in trailhawk format, it handled decaying major roadways of NJ better. While not a in issue I'm deeply passionate about, it is a key factor in my decision to move away from performance sedan type of cars, and the renegade did it better.

4) Colors. I'm VERY, VERY tired of soul sucking grays.

5) Price. After a more thorough test drive paired with asking around on the forum about the cross path detection, and talking to my insurance agent about any discounting for anti-theft, it became clear that really all the renegade needed to keep me happy was the upgraded speakers. I could avoid the dual zone climate control (which has annoyed me in every vehicle I have encountered it in), the keyless enter and go which just makes stealing a car easier, the car alarm because nobody listens to them and it gets me zeor discount (and the base model still has the rfid immobilizer function), and the power seats additional adjustment wasn't needed. For the CX-5, the touring with the bose and moonroof package was what would get me all the features I wanted, but the moonroof was in the wrong spot to make seeing signs easier for tall people. Getting something other than soul sucking gray meant getting slightly listless red, which is an upcharge.

Net result of the above was that I could get into a trailhawk I liked for just over $26k, and getting into the CX-5 was going to cost me about $28k.
 

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Raz-O you must be very sensitive to road vibrations. I found 1.4L Renegade Sport very complaint, well behaved platform given the design of suspension, it's height and articulation.
I have yet to find speed at which Renegade would understeer. Maybe because my arse slides to much in moderately-unsupportive seats.
Having driven all versions of Renegade I found Sport is most satisfying for me.
I know TH is riddled with 4x4 tech which is overshadowed by a base Wrangler model.
Electronic gizmos are for those who thrive on such amusement.
Off-road prowess isn't strong suit of Renegate.
IMHO Renegate is one of better CUV available on the market today which is still offered with manual gearbox in 4x4 configuration.
And for that I bow before FCAgroup.
P.S
I used to like Mazda (I still have 07 Mazda5) before introduction of hideous looking INFO center on top of dashboard. It was HUGE deal breaker for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I like road feel in my steering. Renegade has it, the cx-5 didn't really have much (if any).

The renegade doesn't under steer badly, which was something I liked. However, it's suspension is stiffer and truckier. On the right (bad) road surfaces you can break the rear wheel free at surprisingly low speeds.

It's just stiffer. I like it and think overall it is a decent set of compromises by fca. But for the purposes of shopping, it's worth pointing out for folks trying to make a short list for shopping.
 
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