Since 1941, Jeep has been the name brand for getting off the beaten path. The Ford Explorer may have taken the automotive glory in Spielberg’s first “Jurassic Park,” but if you pay close attention, you’ll notice that all the gas-powered vehicles on the island were good, old-fashioned Jeep Wranglers. If that’s not proof enough of a rig’s ruggedness, I don’t know what is.
The problem with the Wrangler, however, is that while it’s fantastic off road, it has never really excelled on road. Outside of the grande-size Grand Cherokee and Grand Wagoneers, Jeep has never really made a vehicle that was capable both in the mud and on the asphalt. Fast forward to 2015 and cue the all-new Jeep Renegade.
Its FIAT-sourced pedigree may raise some eyebrows—the 7-slotted grill has never looked so distinctively European—but after taking it through its paces, I can genuinely vouch for the Renegade (particularly the Trailhawk trim) as an off-roader.
First, the nitty gritty: The Renegade packs dual skid plates, tow hooks, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, a 30 degree approach angle, and can handle water up to 19 inches deep. It has a few restrictions (like its relatively tiny interior cargo room), but it’s not as if it’s smaller than the 2-door Wrangler, which is beloved by off-roaders around the world. In fact, the Renegade is within a few inches of the famous XJ Cherokee in every exterior dimension.
Jaguar Land Rover worked with Monticello Motor Club and IMPA to put together an impressive off-road testing experience, which featured plenty of mud, rocks, hills, and bumps to test the Renegade Trailhawk’s abilities. While there were definitely some thrilling moments, the little Jeep managed to get through each obstacle.
Do the Renegade’s legitimate off-road chops make you want to buy one?
-Words by Matt Smith; video by Jake Hughes
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