The compact SUV market is one of the most competitive in New Zealand. So if you have a model in your range, you better make sure it ticks all the boxes, or just out from the crowd in some way. Jeep definitely have their own look, but is it what NZ customers are after ?

The Range

With the 2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, you have 3 models currently available; Limited, Trailhawk and the 75th Anniversary model. The Limited is a scaled-back version of the Trailhawk, with only a 1.4L engine, 2WD and a 6 speed auto. The Trailhawk and 75th Anniversary edition are similar, both with a 2.4L petrol engine and 9 speed auto and Active Drive Low 4×4. A handful of visual tweaks, badges and bronze accents adorning the 75th model. The Trailhawk is available with a selection of 11 colors and a short list of optional extras. My Sky Power/Removeable Sunroof, Trailhawk black leather upholstery with ruby red accent stitching, black painted roof and Lane Departure Warning.  


First Impressions

When I first saw the Renegade, it was parked beside a Wrangler, which was not the best first impression, as the Renegade looks nothing like the Wrangler, nor does it have the tough off-road ready look and feel that the Wrangler struts.

But once you take it out on its own, it’s not a bad looking vehicle. I do like the look from the front – very aggressive – but this is lost a bit when you move to the sides. What bothered me the most was the color of our review car, Jetset Blue. It was not nice at all, and it did nothing to complement the huge array of funky design features all over the Renegade. Even on a recent trip to Hawaii, where it was noticeably Jeep country, as there were hundreds of Renegades on the road, I did not see a single one in this colour option. And this is probably because every other option available makes this vehicle look more interesting, exciting and cool.


The Inside

The interior’s fresh and unique design was a very pleasant place to be. It was obvious that Fiat has had a hand in the design influence, as we no longer see any of the cheap and nasty materials or finishes that are so commonly linked to US vehicles. The inside of the Renegade is very different to the outside, you feel like you’re in something very tough, solid and ready for anything. All the controls were easy to find and use, with everything where you would expect it to be. As you worked your way around the cabin, you can’t help but notice the tiny branding easter eggs hidden everywhere. I thought this was quite cool, and not something you see from many other brands. It shows me that Jeep is proud of its brand and they are not afraid to show it.


The centre console, was good, bar one tiny thing that bugged me: The size of the screen. It was small, and considering the size of the surrounding trim it felt overshadowed. And this was again noticeable when using the reversing camera, where a larger screen would have been more beneficial. The seats themselves were very comfy and supportive. I did have one thought in regards to the side bolsters, which may benefit from being larger for offroading. The rear seats were a bit tight too, and if the driver is tall the space in the back is limited. We also found that getting 3 adults across the back was a bit of a tight squeeze too.


The audio system was a bit of a surprise for me, as it was from Beats by Dre. This must be the first vehicle to see a Beats sound system in it, and thankfully due to the design of the interior, it worked well in the Renegade.


The Drive – on road

I will be honest and say that I did not expect the daily driving ability off the Renegade to be that enjoyable. I expected it’s non-aerodynamic shape and design to leave it with a list of annoying features and experiences from normal road driving. But I was wrong, and I was surprised by how much. Once on the road, it feels like any other SUV, very easy to drive, and even though you felt like you were riding in a bigger vehicle, it was easy to get in and out of tight spaces. The ride was smooth and quiet, most of which is due to the improved interior and sound proofing. I was even surprised with the road noise, being on and all terrain tyre I expected to hear a lot more noise. But it just wasn’t there.


The handling was another feature I did not expect much from, however due to the lower ride height of the Renegade, it was surprisingly good to drive. Even when you took it down some twisty back roads, you felt very confident about your ability to place the vehicle on the corner. The 2-litre engine was no performance monster, but it did the job well. With where we are in the chase for more economic vehicles, I found it odd that the Renegade was not fitted with a Turbo. I think this would have improved the fuel consumption a lot, as I never saw it lower than 8.5L per 100km. Which is well above the advertised numbers of 6.2L per 100km. It also would have helped when that extra burst of power is needed for overtaking. Being naturally aspirated, when you floored it to get a more power, it too a few seconds to catch up to what you’re trying to do.


The Drive – off road

I was unable to give this vehicle a good offroad test, but I did manage to get it off the beaten track and see what it can do. Being that it was a Jeep, the confidence was there to push it around to see if its heritage rang true. Its ability seemed to be as one would expect from a brand that prides itself on their off-road ability.

However one thing became apparent, it is not a high riding vehicle. Even though I knew the underside of the vehicle had a lot of protection, crash plate and covers, there was a lot of noise coming from below. Small branches, ruts and bumps, rubbing against the underside of the Renegade. The protective trim around the front and rear bumper, had a lot of areas to catch, and could be pulled off easily, leaving a lot of damage. Based on what I put it through, I can’t fault it’s ability as it pottered around up and down the hills, but the clearance was definitely an issue. And if you’re someone who really wants to go off the map, then expect to spend some money on a lift kit, just to get it to a useable height.

The Competition

The SUV market in New Zealand is growing faster then most could have imagined, and has something close to a 50% stake of new vehicles sold here. The Renegade sits in an bit of an odd segment, with one foot in the compact SUV around town runabout, and the other foot or gumboot in the mud. When you look at what’s available, these two segments matter, as there is a lot on offer for the around town run about. Making the Jeep look very expensive for what you get. But on the flip side of that, there is not a lot that would stand tall next to the Jeep for off road ability, which then makes it much better value.



Compact SUV

Brand / Model Engine Power Fuel L/100km Boot Capacity Price Highest to Lowest
BMW X1 1.8L i4 100kw / 220Nm 5.3L / 100km 505 Litres $59,990
Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 2.4L i4 134kw / 237Nm 7.5L / 100km 354 Litres $49,990
Honda CRV 4WD Sport 2.0L i4 140kw / 222Nm 8.7L / 100km 556 Litres $46,700
Mitsubishi 2.0L i4 112kw / 366Nm 6.8L / 100km 591 Litres $43,990
VW Tiguan 1.4L i4 110kw / 250Nm 6.1L / 100km 615 Litres $41,990
Toyota Rav4 2.0L i4 107kw / 187Nm 7.0L / 100km 577 Litres $37,990
Ford Escape 1.5L i4 134kw / 240Nm 7.0L / 100km 406 Litres $37,990


Pros Cons
  • Funky Design
  • Nice solid interior
  • Stands out from the crowd
  • Great to drive on the road
  • Quiet, even on all terrain tyres
  • Comfortable driving position
  • When inside, it feels a bigger then it is
  • Cool, design flare easter eggs hidden throughout the cabin
  • Very low ground clearance for an offroader
  • Lots of plastic bodywork that could can be easily damaged or pulled of when off roading
  • Rear seats tight and uncomfortable for 3 people


What do we think?

There is a fun exciting side to this Jeep, and I can really see how the brand backs what they call the “Jeep Lifestyle”. For an around town or suburban runabout, there is a lot to like about the Renegade. Sadly the colour option I was given to drive, was not one of these things.

Would I buy one, probably not. And that’s only because I love the look of the Wrangler, which appeals to me a lot more, as it’s a bit more off-road ready then the stock Renegade. This in itself comes down to the buyer, and for anyone who is keen to join Jeep’s lifestyle.

You would have to weigh up the models and decide if the Renegade is for you and are you keen to spend a bit more money on upgrading it so that it’s a worthy offroader. And if you’re just after something for the city, and not really an offroader, something quirky and funky that stands out from the pack. Then the Renegade would be right up your alley.



Rating – Chevron rating 3.5 out of 5

2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk

Vehicle Type AWD Compact SUV
Starting Price $49,990 NZD
Tested Price $49,990 NZD
Engine 2.4L inline petrol engine with 9-speed auto
Transmission 9-Speed auto
0 – 100 kph 8.7 seconds
Kerb Weight 1550 kg
Length x Width x Height 4259 x 1805 x 1697 mm
Cargo Capacity 351 Litres
Fuel Tank (range extender) 48 litres
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.5 L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined – 8.8 L / 100km

ANCAP Safety Ratings N/A


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John Galvin (JSG)
It started at a young age with bedroom posters, the Countach of course. This slowly grew into a super car die-cast model collection, fifty five 1:18 models at the last count. At which point it had almost taken full control, the incurable Mad Car Disease ran deep though my veins all the way to the bone. And things for my loved ones just got worse as the cars where now being bought at 1:1 scale, after a BMW, HSV, and couple of Audi's, the disease reached my brain, pushing me over the edge and down the rabbits hole into the world of the bedroom poster.


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