We sold our last Jeep Cherokee in 2006, a few weeks after we joined the Toyota family with our first FJ Cruiser. I haven’t driven a Jeep since then, and have only been inside a Jeep two or three times in the last 11 years.
Last month during a short trip as part of my USAF Reserve gig, I had the opportunity to check out a 2016 Renegade - Trailhawk edition. Of course I’ve read about the baby Jeep since it’s introduction in 2014 as a 2015 model.
The little Jeep (model designator CU) is based on the Fiat 500X platform, and although it is quite small, it bears the Trail Rated emblem.During my few days driving the 2016 Jeep Renegade around Idaho I was not able to explore any dirt trails, but as a rental review for Buck The Commute, I think I have more than enough information. Driving from Boise to Twin Falls allowed me to experience:
- City driving
- Highway speeds & acceleration
- Slush, Ice, and Snowy conditions
- Snow covered parking lots (so I got to test out the SNOW setting)
Overall, the little Jeep managed to handle all the tasks quite well. During the drive back to Boise, during a snow storm, in the dark, I passed several vehicles that had slid off the road, one jack-knifed tractor trailer, and a van on its side. The little Jeep just kept on trekking, no complaints, and no issues.
The Trailhawk version I drove included the Passive Entry system, plenty of power outlets, and a very good infotainment system. It lacked the Nav upgrade, but built-in Nav is more of a helpful guide than an actual feature in most cases. One issue I have with most rental vehicles is that the Bluetooth connectivity options run the gamut from great to barely useful. The Renegade comes tips the scales more toward the great end of the scale.
Style wise, the red & black accents agains the dark grey exterior really worked well. This is by no means a boring car, so it will appeal to those looking to make a statement. The dash is well laid out even though the screen is smaller than I’m used to, and everything was easy to figure out for a short 2 day test drive.
Back seat space seems OK for a small vehicle, but I wasn’t able to test our two large carseats. I’m sure they would fit just fine although I doubt there would be much room in the middle. Likewise, the rear cargo area is excellent - and managed keep my drone, carry-on, and laptop from sliding around on the windy Idaho roads.
During my 400+ miles of mixed driving, I managed to pull a respectable 24mpg. Our final criteria breaks down like this:
Practical: 7/10 - The MPGs are good for a vehicle that can get you just a little off the beaten path. Performance: 6/10 - The 2.4L I-4 gets the job done, but not quickly. Fun: 8/10 - If you like to explore with your moderate commuter car, you’re good to go =)