Words: Robert Nichols
Photography: Robert Nichols
Published: May 17, 2017
Last year I enjoyed driving the Italian-built Jeep Renegade 75th Anniversary Edition 4X4. I found it to be a surprisingly capable off-roader even though it was wearing street tires. When I was offered the chance to drive the more off-road focused Trailhawk version I set about planning an off-road excursion worthy of the Trail Rated badge. Unfortunately I live in southern Ontario, a part of the province that has few if any legal trails to be exploited.
Thankfully the weather turned wet the week of my drive and I headed out to find some mud and discern whether the Trailhawk badge is just for show.
My tester came in white, a rather odd choice for a vehicle designed to play in the dirt. With a black cloth interior, seats embroidered with a topographical map pattern and heavy duty rubber floor mats, the Trailhawk certainly hints at its off-road heritage. The interior has not changed at all since my last excursion in a 2016, I only wish this one had that fantastic removable two piece roof. The My Sky option will set you back $1,595 and is a must have. It comes either power operated or the removable lightweight two panel version.
On my way to find some flooded tractor roads I began to worry that the Trailhawk may not be up to par, that perhaps the trail rating may be just a badge. Yes it has two tow hooks in front and one in the back, and yes there are many skid plates protecting the mechanicals beneath. But as I approached my first closed road, my faith in the little off-roader wavered as I gazed over the swamp that was once a road. Having alerted a local farmer that I may need to borrow a tractor I psyched myself up, put the terrain system in MUD, the transfer case in 4X4 low, and built up a little forward momentum.
The Jeep plodded along effortlessly at first, and then the ground beneath softened. I was in Haldimand County, where I grew up, and an area known for its reddish clay earth. Apparently this becomes thick and slippery when wet. I hit a deep rut which tilted the Renegade quickly to the right and to a rather unexpected angle. It was at this moment that my forward motion seemed to disappear and my heart sank, “NO NO NO NO!” was all I could utter.
The Renegade must have heard my plea and after a brief instance of hesitation (which felt an eternity) the tires found some traction and pulled us out of the mire. As soon as I found a firm bit of ground I stepped outside for a few pictures and to survey the now filthy white Jeep. As I had suspected, the tires were full of the heavy earth. I decided that once in each direction was enough for that particular path and headed to a back road near my parent’s home.
I had taken the first Renegade down this second road and into some of the fields. The road was narrow and has started to get overgrown through lack of use. The Renegade is also narrow, which makes it perfect for traversing such paths.
Due to the rain a few large puddles had formed. It had been a year since I last drove this tractor road and was not aware that the puddles covered rather deep ruts. So in blissful ignorance I once again selected MUD and gave her in 4X4 high so as to make a big splash.
The first puddle went as expected; water came up and over us much to my delight. The second puddle was deeper than I had thought. I had walked along with a stick to test the depth, but I only tested one spot in the middle. Well that was a mistake. As I lunged ahead my speed dropped off almost immediately as the water rose up to the level of the floor. I had another “UH OH!” moment but the capable off-roader once again girded itself found some purchase and pulled us out of danger. In retrospect I should have been in Low, but my day ended with a grin, a filthy Jeep and no call for rescue.
My excursion had me convinced that the trail rating is real, and there is something special about this model. I glanced at the specifications and found that the Trailhawk is unique among the Renegade line in a few ways. As with all the 4X4 models it shares a system with a fully disconnecting 4X2 mode and automatic 4X4 engagement, a 20:1 crawl ratio for the more difficult trails, and a full time 4X4 mode that uses active on demand clutches.
Where it differs is some extra skid plates (protecting the front suspension, transmission, fuel tank and transfer case) and suspension setup. Compared to the next most capable version the Trailhawk rides higher with 221 mm of ground clearance vs a non-Trail Rated 4X4 at 203 mm. It has a steeper approach angle of 30.5° vs 21.0° and a break-over angle of 34.3° vs 32.1°.
Other than gifting increased off-road abilities the suspension felt stiffer and the ride on smooth roads was a bit jittery. Larger potholes were dispensed without upsetting the chassis but smaller bumps that you may never had noticed before seem to be exaggerated. This is life with a purpose-built trail machine and if you intend to use your Renegade as I did, the slightly uncomfortable ride will not bother you one bit.
The 2017 Renegade and especially the Trailhawk version have made it onto my want list. When it comes time for me to buy a toy for bombing around the countryside and exploring Ontario’s north, I cannot think of a better vehicle. Mine will be Hyper Green with the two piece removable hardtop and a winch.
型号 Model: 2017 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4X4
顏色 Paint Type: Alpine White
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $33,045
試車售價 Price as Tested: $40,470
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,570
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,232 / 2,023 / 1,689
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,519
引擎 Engine: 2.4L Tigershark MultiAir2 inline-four
最大馬力 Horsepower: 180 hp @ 6,400 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 175 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4X4
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.9
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 215/65R17 Falken Wildpeak H/T