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Silvios Ride Nov 01, 2017

2017 Jeep Renegade Deserthawk

Silvio is back with another vehicle review and this week it's the 2017 Jeep Renegade Deserthawk.

 

Beneath the camo, there’s a decent little SUV

2017 Jeep Renegade Deserthawk 4X4 $26,895 — as driven $31,920.

Renegade Sport, Latitude, Altitude, Limited, Trailhawk models, with FWD or 4WD, starting at $17,995 to $26,895

Plus: A small SUV with decent manners for the Jeep faithful

Minus: Looks like a bathtub toy, silly costume, somewhat underpowered

 

Did you know you can now order a Jeep that will blast from zero to 60 MPH in three and a half seconds and top out at close to 180 MPH? And that costs $90,000? It’s a 707-horsepower Grand Cherokee called the Trackhawk . . . and unfortunately this isn’t it.

No, this is the Renegade Deserthawk—the other end of Jeep’s lineup. It’s a little rubber ducky dressed up for Halloween in some sort of sand camouflage, with a WWII-style star on its shoulders and a topo map glued to its hood. Huh?

By now we all know the Renegade—it’s Jeep’s budget-priced compact model. Our Deserthawk version, however, costs $32,000. At that price, it’s well equipped with nearly all the toys. The main thing, though, is that it’s supposed to be at home in, well, the desert.

No deserts around here, so we went bouncing around on some logging trails. The Deserthawk has skid rails underneath and good ground clearance. It’s Trail-Rated too, which means it has Jeep’s Active Drive 4WD with a low-speed range, and they’ve added a Rock mode to the standard Renegade Trailhawk’s Snow, Sand, Mud and Automatic setups in the Selec-Terrain system. (Twirl the knob by the shift lever to choose your setting.) Oh, and that map on the hood? That’s supposed to show Moab, the 4-wheelers’ playground in Utah, where Jeep has an off-road jamboree every year.

Whatever it may be capable of in the boonies—which appears to be a lot—it turns out this Renegade is reasonably comfortable on pavement, too. Yes, it’s slow, but no surprise; the engine is only a 180HP Four. However, this 9-speed automatic transmission is right at home in the Renegade. It shifts promptly and smoothly, and really helps get the most out of the engine.

There are quicker and more capable small SUVs out there, but they aren’t Jeeps, and this is important to some people. We probably won’t see many of these Deserthawks on the road. But I’ll bet we continue to see lots of new Renegades. Macho and military? No. A friendly little crossover ute? Yes. BTW, it’s built in Italy on a Fiat chassis with an engine and transmission shipped over from the US. It’s a global, free-trade sort of car.

 

The Renegade, the littlest Jeep, comes in a wide variety of trim levels, with front-wheel drive or 4WD, and is much “friendlier” than its name suggests. The Deserthawk model’s unique paint job is evidently meant to recall Jeep’s WWII battlefield heritage plus its off-road chops. (Photo by: Jeep)
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