Size Matters

January 2nd, 2019

2019 Jeep® Renegade Limited

By Don Armstrong

Full-size, body-on-frame SUV’s were once all the rage. Even today, they sell well. But for many in the Bay Area, the frameless, car-like, unibody construction of a crossover, or CUV, offers what most are looking for, including better fuel mileage.

Jeep Renegade
When we think of Jeep, most tend to see themselves off-roading in the Hill Country, or at least the sandy dunes down the coast. If you fall into that category, then the Renegade Trailhawk may be a perfect fit.

There’s no mistaking its boxy shape and seven-slot grille for anything other than a Jeep.

The Trailhawk edition is equipped with the larger 2.4-liter engine, that we prefer, delivering its 180-horsepower through a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The interior is just plain fun, and the optional, larger 8.4-inch infotainment screen connects you to the world of Jeeping with ease. Seating is rugged yet comfortable. Second-row legroom may be a little tight for those over six feet but expect plenty of space in the cargo area. Removable MySky sunroof panels are a must option.

With the Renegade’s off-road suspension and bigger tires, the ride is a bit stiffer than the entry-level model. But isn’t this why you joined the posse?

Starting price for the Jeep Renegade is $18,445. The Trailhawk trim level, with a few options, is around $30,000.

2019 Buick Encore

Buick Encore
Playing on the near-luxury field puts the Buick Encore in a different class than the Renegade but is similar in size.

This GM brand is known for a quiet cabin and Encore delivers, thanks to Buick’s QuietTuning technology. Specially laminated glass along with sound deadening materials are among many items acoustical engineers employ to keep outside noise, outside.

The interior in our top-of-the-line trim, Essence, is very nice and comfortable, not over-the-top, but true quality throughout the cabin. Its infotainment system is well thought out and easy to use.

Powering our Encore is an optional 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that boasts a wee bit more horses than the base motor, 153 to be exact. We would like to see something closer to the Renegade’s output.

The ride quality is reassuring without being jittery at highway speeds. And that says a lot, considering Encore’s short wheelbase.

Pricing begins at $23,200.

No one manufacturer has an edge over another these days, so select the price range and type of sport ute that fits your needs and start exploring.

Cute and Capable

March 1st, 2015

2015 Jeep® Renegade TrailhawkAll-new Jeep Renegade doesn’t disappoint brand faithful

By Don Armstrong

A recent four hour plane trip to northern California to drive the all-new Jeep Renegade proved to be worth every second.

To loyal Jeep followers, the only real Jeep is the Wrangler, but in today’s cut throat automotive business, the only way to survive is to build vehicles for the masses. There is no question that the Wrangler is the ultimate, but what about those of us that want off-road capability and on-road civility?

The Renegade is offered in Jeep’s off-road version called the Trailhawk, and here is where it really shines, giving the part time enthusiast all of the tools needed to keep up with its Wrangler brother. With its fully independent suspension, capable of up to 8-inches of wheel articulation and over 8 ½-inches of ground clearance, the Trailhawk Renegade knocks on Wrangler’s door. Model-specific front and rear bumpers allow for increased approach and departure angles too.

2015 Jeep Renegade TrailhawkThe Renegade comes with one of two 4-cylinder engines, a turbocharged 1.4-liter version with 160 horsepower, matched exclusively to a 6-speed manual transmission, or a 2.4-liter, 180-horsepower version, connected to a 9-speed automatic. Both get more than 30-mpg-highway. Two, full-time all-wheel drive systems are offered including one with a 20:1 crawl ratio. Two-wheel drive is also available.

The interior is a delight for the eyes with anodized design accents and colors derived from extreme sports equipment. The Renegade is designed with an efficient and flexible interior package that includes a fold-forward front-passenger seat and removable, reversible and height-adjustable cargo floor panel. Outdoorsy-types will like the removable roof panels and cloth and leather seating are offered in color combinations you’ve not seen in a vehicle before.

2015 Jeep® Renegade TrailhawkChrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system is part of the Renegade’s soul and is the best on 4-wheels. With the optional 6.5-inch color touch screen, it becomes the cat’s “meow.”

Most of us will be completely delighted with the two-wheel drive model, but off-road, the Renegade earns the Jeep name. After several hours traversing northern California, including tough mountain terrain, and city and highway driving, we can honestly say it has every piece of Jeep DNA.

Whether you are in the market for a runabout-size SUV or not, we encourage you to go and take a test drive. The Renegade arrives at Jeep dealers this month. With a starting price of $17,995, we think you’ll be impressed.