I remember one of the earlier Renegades from which this latest Jeep product (it beat the new Cherokee to dealers by a year) gets its name; and it should be said that it’s nothing like this. I remember it as a wide-bodied, fat-tired version of the YJ Wrangler. There was a version before that, too, and it was also nothing like this.
Or was it?
When you consider this particular example, some similarities begin to emerge between those globetrotting Jeeps of old and the Renegade Trailhawk version seen here, most notably in the off-road and styling departments.
More on that in a minute, however; this is a Big Guy, Small Car review and so we’re going to have to first establish if this smallest of Jeeps works for the Big Guy in your life.
The Knee Test
Even with the Trailhawk’s slightly higher ride height (it gets an added 221 mm over other Renegades), getting in and out of the littlest Jeep shouldn’t be a problem for anyone, let along someone big and tall. Indeed, the bigger problem for 6’3” guys like me when it comes to smaller vehicles is making sure you don’t crack the doorframe with your skull, or should I say crack your skull with the doorframe? Yeah, that last one is far more likely. You want to make sure your knees don’t strike the shift lever or centre stack or console either.
At any rate, the Renegade’s nice tall roof and sizeable door openings make it so this is never really a problem, as I never really found myself doing the customary act of checking – then double-checking – to make sure I was going to clear that plane. Then, once inside, I had no trouble believing that the Renegade is good for every one of the 1,045 mm of front headroom (1,029 mm in the back) that Jeep claims it has. Add a sunroof – on our tester, it’s more of a t-top kind of thing in that the panels of the My Sky sunroof can be removed with an included tool, though there is a pricier power option – and that total drops to 1,009 mm. That’s hardly anything to complain about, and I found myself marvelling more than once about how far away the headliner was when I looked up. Feels like I could wear a 10-gallon hat in here. Seriously, it does.
Down and Dirty: Tips for Successful Off-Roading
Problems start to arise, a little, when it comes time to consider the legroom. Jeep claims there’s 1,046 mm up front, and while that may be true, it’s the room around your knees that we alluded to earlier that concerned me. For starters, the shift lever is huge, and the bottom seat cushion, not so much. As a result, the lever sits a little close to your thigh as you stretch your legs for comfort. The real problem, however, is the centre stack, which just sits too close to your knees. Meanwhile, a plasticky outcrop is formed where the upper tier of the centre stack meets the lower storage area, and that corner tends to dig into your knee.
Of course, the rear passengers don’t have to deal with any of that, and as a result, while there’s less legroom (891 mm in total, to be precise), it’s easier to at least comfortably position your knees to get a better purchase on the seat.