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2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk First Look

Jeep goes small at the Geneva International Motor Show

The 2015 Jeep Renegade and Jeep Renegade Trailhawk made a splash in the international subcompact market when they were unveiled at the 2014 Geneva International Motor Show. As Jeep’s first foray into the small SUV segment, the 2015 Jeep Renegade also represents Jeep’s first vehicle designed for the global market, which is probably why it’s also the first new Jeep vehicle ever unveiled outside of the United States.

For the world stage, the 2015 Jeep Renegade and Renegade Trailhawk will offer up to 16 different powertrain combinations, including four MultiAir gasoline engines and fuel-efficient 1.6L or 2.0L MultiJet turbodiesels with advanced stop-start technology. However, for the US market engine choices will be limited to either the turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir Turbo or normally aspirated 2.4L MultiAir2 Tigershark gas engines backed by either a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic transmission.

The styling of the new 2015 Jeep Renegade includes familiar cues taken from Wrangler, Cherokee, and other iconic models in the Jeep family’s past. Things like Jeep’s iconic seven-slat grille, round headlights, trapezoidal wheel arches, and even a My Sky open-air roof system that promises to deliver the open-air driving vibe of the early topless CJs from the brand’s beginnings.

But enough is enough. The internet will soon be awash with regurgitations of the official 2015 Jeep Renegade press release. What you wanna know about is what a real off-road Jeep enthusiast thinks of it. Honestly, it could be worse. Yes, the standard Renegade is a cute-ute. But the simple fact that a Trailhawk version of it exists speaks to Jeep’s commitment to honor its heritage as a builder of off-road capable vehicles. With only a 20:1 low range and a ride height only 0.8 inches taller than its Renegade sister, the Renegade Trailhawk is not a hardcore wheeler. The 215/65R17 Goodyear SR-A tires don’t offer the bite of an aggressive mud-terrain tire, but they’re far better fare than the rolling stock offered on other offerings in the market segment. We like the Renegade Trailhawk’s skidplate package, increased departure and approach angles, increased ride height, the addition of a “Rock” mode to the Active Drive Low full-time T-case other settings of Auto, Snow-Sand, and Mud, and especially the red towhooks.

Here’s the thing about towhooks these days. Auto manufacturers need to meet increasingly strict frontal crash rating, so it’s not like they can just slap on any old set of tow hooks for aesthetics. The engineers at Jeep had to really put a lot of thought and effort into creating a tow hook that fits the Jeep Renegade chassis, that could pull 1.5 times the vehicle’s gross loaded weight, and that would still fold on impact in case of a crash. They’re probably some of the most expensive damn towhooks ever made. So why bother? Because it’s a Jeep. And if it wears a Jeep badge it’s gotta have Jeep capability.

So, yeah, even though it’s not a diesel Wrangler (although there was a CRD Rubicon at the Geneva show), it’s still not a Nissan Juke. It’s not the most off-road capable vehicle to ever wear a Jeep badge. But it’s certainly the most capable vehicle in the arena which it’s meant to compete. The 2015 Jeep Renegade and Renegade Trailhawk don’t go on sale in North America until early 2015, but we’ll provide a more in-depth analysis and our honest impressions of its capabilities as soon as we can get behind the wheel of one.