By Larry Lark / Herald Special Sections Writer
Brands tend to come and go… but not Jeep.
Invented out of necessity in 1941, Jeep has spanned generations, outlasted the fickle tastes of consumers and even survived changes in ownership.
Yet it continues to thrive. That’s when you know something is good. If it can survive the test of time. Jeep was around before the term sports utility vehicle (SUV) was even a thing.
The Jeep vehicle lineup consists of the Cherokee, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Renegade and Wrangler.
My 2017 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4×4 test drive was designed in America and crafted in Italy, and delivered a unique combination of best-in-class off-road capability, open-air freedom and convenience, a segment-first, nine-speed automatic transmission and a host of safety and advanced technology offerings.
The Trailhawk is “trail rated,” which means it includes:
• Standard active drive low with 20:1 crawl ratio
• Selec-Terrain system with exclusive “rock mode”
• Increased ride height to 8.7 inches of ground clearance
• Skid plates and signature red front and rear tow hooks
• Unique fascias deliver 30.5 degree approach, 25.7 degree breakover and 34.3 degree departure angles
• Unique 17-inch wheels with aggressive on-road and off-road tires
• Up to 8.1 inches of wheel articulation
• Hill-descent control
• Up to 19 inches of water fording
• Up to 2,000-lb. towing capability
Alas, I didn’t do my job and stayed strictly on the pavement. I don’t think it’s a stretch to write the Renegade Trailhawk would hold up off-road. It is the reason why Jeep exists in the first place.
Powered by a 2.4-liter I-4 multiport engine, the Renegade Trailhawk seats up to five adults (it was a squeeze), but we managed on the occasion of my daughter’s graduation from WWU. Mom, dad, grandma, grandpa and the honored graduate trekked to Mambo Italiano for a congratulatory meal.
The interior features a rugged and energetic appearance that builds on the brand’s heritage. The small SUV’s precisely crafted detail draws inspiration from contemporary extreme sports gear and lifestyles.
Another cool feature is the “My Sky” roof system that offers two class-exclusive, removable roof panels. They are lightweight and easily stowable in the rear car cargo area. A far cry from the inspiration, a 1941 Willys MB Jeep.
I would also be derelict of duty if I didn’t mention the Renegade Trailawk is loaded with creature comforts that could hardly be called “roughing it.” Leather-trimmed bucket seats, dual-zone climate control, heated seats and a sweet-sounding audio system with six speakers, Bluetooth, navigation, rear-view camera and satellite radio, to name the highlights.
Safety and security is top priority, with up to 70 different features available including forward-collision warning and LaneSense departure warning. Other highlights include speed and traction control, hill descent control and electronic roll mitigation.
I loved everything about the Renegade Trailhawk. Maybe next time I’ll make sure to venture off road and see what kind of trouble I can invent. It could make for some exciting reading.
Base Price: $26,495
Price As Driven: $33,125
Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.