We recently got a sneak peek at some new hardware from Jeep and Ram, and thought you would like to see it too. Although it’s not earth-shattering news (that will roll out in late 2017), there are some very nice changes and upgrades in store for the model-year 2016 Jeep and Ram products. Check it out!
Bear Is The New Black
New for 2016 from Jeep is the Back Bear special edition of the Jeep Wrangler. This package is available on both the two-door Wrangler Sport and four-door Wrangler Unlimited. Inside the Black Bear you’ll find a leather-wrapped steering wheel with black accent stitching, and black cloth Sedoso seats. You’ll also find Iron Gray bezels, door and grab handle vent rings, and sport bar grab handles. Air conditioning, the Connectivity and Power Convenience Groups, as well as all-weather slush mats are standard.
On the outside, you get a Satin Black grill, “Granite Crystal” (aka mineral gray) bumper appliqués front and rear, black tail lamp guards, and premium rock rails. The premium Sunrider soft top is standard, or you can get the optional body-color hard top. Other distinctive exterior upgrades are the black taillamp guards and fuel fill door.
This Jeep rolls out of the factory on 17-inch, five-spoke black alloy wheels fitted with Goodyear Silent Armor All-Terrain tires. “Trail Rated” badges are standard, and to add to the distinction of Black Bear edition, a topographical map hood graphic of the Black Bear Trail in Colorado covers the hood. The Black Bear Edition is available in nine colors: Billet Silver, Black, Bright White, Firecracker Red, Granite Crystal, Hydro Blue, Hypergreen, Rhino, and Tank.
For 2016, the Wrangler engine remains the 3.6L Pentastar V-6. Specs are 220ci, 285 hp, and 260 lb-ft. Its EPA rated fuel consumption is 17/21 (20 for the JKU with auto trans) mpg. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, and a five-speed automatic is optional. The transfer case has a 2.72:1 low range; the front axle is a Dana 30, and the rear is a Dana 44. A rear Trac-loc is optional.
Driving the Black Bear Edition Wrangler was like being back in the seat of our first, and favorite trail vehicle. In fact, a Jeep was the original recreational trail rig, and the Jeep JK Wranglers are the current pinnacle of evolution for a production Jeep. We drove the 4-Door Wrangler Unlimited version of the Black Bear package. While the basic Jeep is a Sport model, we found the Black Bear Edition upgrades a nice complement to the Jeep. In the interior the Black Bear’s Sedoso seats are comfortable and the interior looks great. On the pavement the Wrangler Black Bear handles nicely and was quiet inside the hardtop version we were in. Past experience tells us the premium Sunrider soft top is not overly loud and itgives easier access to the open-air feel we love in a Jeep. We found the Goodyear Silent Armor All-Terrain tires to be responsive and low-noise on pavement, wet or dry, and very friendly and traction-capable on the trail. Overall, you can’t find an off-the-lot rig that is cooler to drive, and more capable on the trail, unless it’s another Jeep.
It’s Not A Fiat, Really
The Renegade may not be what hardcore off-roaders are looking for, but it can do dirt, and the Trailhawk version is the current pinnacle of off-pavement prowess for the Renegade line-up. While some naysayers will point out that the Renegade shares some content with the Fiat 500X, there is no comparison. Platform sharing is standard in modern vehicle production, to keep costs down, however, there is much to distinguish the Renegade, and especially so with the Trailhawk Edition.
The Renegade Trailhawk delivers a best-in-class fuel efficiency, and trail capability, too. The standard engine for the Renegade Trailhawk is the 2.4L Tigershark I-4 with MultiAir 2. This powerful I-4 offers up 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. The same engine is used in its larger and heavier brother, the Jeep Cherokee, so it has power to spare in a Renegade. The Renegade Trailhawk backs the 2.4L Tigershark engine with a nine-speed automatic; both are standard for this model. The engine is powerful for its size and gets 21 city/29 highway MPG. This results in about a 350-mile range on the open road with the 12.7 gallons of fuel capacity.
The Renegade Trailhawk comes standard with the nine-speed automatic. It is coupled to the Jeep Active Drive Low 4x4 system. This setup has a low range that offers a 20:1 gear reduction for added off-pavement capabilities. The Jeep Active Drive Low 4x4 system, with its disconnecting rear axle, enhances fuel economy, but instantly engages all four wheels when needed. The design is also segment first and provides five modes of operation. These 4x4 modes are Auto, Snow, Sand, and Mud, plus an exclusive Rock mode on the Trailhawk model.
To further enhance this little Jeep’s off-pavement prowess, the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk has 8.7 inches of ground clearance, almost 1 inch more than the standard 4x4 Renegade. This ground clearance is the same as the baseline ground clearance on a 4x4 Cherokee. In addition, the Renegade Trailhawk has superior approach angle, departure, and breakover angles compared to the standard 4x4 Renegade. These critical numbers for trail use are equal to or better than the Jeep Cherokee 4x4 on several fronts.
Getting behind the wheel of the 2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk was a pleasant surprise. The Renegade is the smallest of the current Jeep lineup, but it is big on capabilities, with the Trailhawk version the best of the Renegades. We liked the comfortable and distinctive interior of the Renegade Trailhawk and found that the small size of the Renegade makes it a fun to drive and easy to park rig. It’s quiet, and surprisingly roomy, with lots of features and conveniences. The Uconnect Access, and touchscreens bring home and office capabilities to your daily drive, and the Beats premium audio sounds great. the 2.4L Tigershark I4 to offer up plenty of power for pavement and trail. The 9-speed automatic and Jeep Activedrive Low 4x4 system gave the Renegade Trailhawk true real-Jeep-like performance. We found that the 8.7 inches of ground clearance was, as expected, more than enough for the desert trails and hills we took on with the Renegade Trailhawk. With the five programmed-modes of four-wheel drive, the Trailhawk is easy to drive in snow, sand and mud, and even has a Trailhawk exclusive Rock mode. This small Jeep has earned its “Trail Rated” badge, and is fun and comfortable to drive most anyplace you want to take it.
Work Truck For Play
The Ram Rebel is a unique truck package that was first seen in 2015 as a mid-year introduction. For 2016 the Rebel has some new interior colors and materials. It gets exclusive new Radar Red and Black seats with a “tire-tread” pattern in the cushion area. The Rebel also has a distinctive new black-finish grill. Only the Laramie Limited has a similar grill, but it’s has a chrome finish.
The really big news for the Ram 1500 Rebel is not what new features it incorporates, rather what the Rebel package brings to the buyer from the Ram line as regular elements. These include Four-Corner Active-Level air suspension, Hill Start Assist, and more. The Active-Level air suspension is referred to as “intelligent,” with five height modes, and a computer that adjusts the ride height according to speed and other factors.
Whether it’s dropping down two-plus inches to allow easier entry and exit, or rising up two inches for more ground clearance, this versatile suspension can be set in one mode and will switch to another mode, as it deems necessary. In addition, the Active level will work to stabilize and level the truck fore-to-aft when carrying a heavy payload. In addition to the intelligent suspension Rebel also comes with Stop/Start System, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) System, and Tow/Haul Mode, along with available features like heat and ventilation for seats, a heated steering wheel, and many more.
On the outside the Rebel has new black off-road style front and rear bumpers, a skid plate, front tow hooks, and Rebel-exclusive 17-inch wheels wrapped with Toyo Open Country T/A tires. The Ram Rebel is offered in 4x2 and 4x4 configurations. The 4x2 comes standard with the 5.7L Hemi V-8. The 4x4 comes with the 3.8L V-6, but can be ordered with the V8. A 5-foot 7-inch box is the only one available, but a Ram Box upgrade is offered, as is a 32-gallon fuel tank option.
The Ram 1500 4x4 is a truck first and foremost, and the Rebel takes the basic Ram to a new level. We found the Ram Rebel to be comfortable and quiet to drive, on pavement and off-road. The 4x4 mode is smooth to engage and disengage, and offers the added traction of a 2.72:1 low range. Our tester was equipped with the optional 5.7L Hemi V-8, it offered plenty of torque and lots of power for both tow and go. On the suspension side, we found the Four-Corner Active-Level air suspension to be a great addition to the basic Ram truck. This suspension lowers for better fuel economy on the highway, and can rise up two steps for added clearance off the pavement. We found that the Off Road 2 mode was great for running mild trails, and while the truck doesn’t have a hill decent control mode, it does include a Hill Start Assist that is quite effective. Overall the Ram Rebel may be the most fun we’ve had in a pickup truck in a long time.
So there you have it, the highlights of what’s new from Jeep and Ram for 2016. We’ve delivered the facts, so now it’s up to you to get out there, kick some tires, and see them for yourself.