2017 Jeep Renegade Desert Hawk offers unique style, off-road chops

Nov 12, 2017 Hit: 389 Written by 
The 2017 Jeep Renegade Desert Hawk features a unique look and design, and is built for off-road capability
The 2017 Jeep Renegade Desert Hawk features a unique look and design, and is built for off-road capability Photo by Matt Myftiu/

Jeep is a brand that will always have an audience, both in America and abroad, and it carries a lot of the load for FCA. Much of that success is from annual top-sellers like the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, but there’s also some very cool special editions that come out -- including the 2017 Jeep Renegade Desert Hawk, which I recent had a chance to test out.


The Renegade comes in many trim levels, including the off-road friendly Trailhawk. The Desert Hawk is basically a limited edition of the Trailhawk with a very cool look that’s all its own. As with most Jeeps, the trail-rated Desert Hawk is aimed at those who like to hit the road where the road ends

Visually the Renegade Desert Hawk is one of the most attractive vehicles I’ve seen all year. It starts with a strong paint scheme (Mojave Sand), then up front it features the bold Jeep grille and a unique headlamp design, going up to the hood and its huge but not gaudy map decal design. It’s not a stretch to say that when driving a Desert Hawk, no vehicle on the road will look quite like yours.

Other colors are offered on the Desert Hawk (gray, white, green), but the Mojave Sand is easily the best-looking option.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2017 Jeep Renegade Desert Hawk
  • Price as tested:: $33,415
  • Best feature:: Attractive limited edition Jeep with strong off-roading chops
  • Rating:: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Jeep lovers who want to look sharp and feel confident while going on their off-road adventures

Going to the interior, materials are decent quality but not super high end. One note of interest: The inside seats also carry a map design to match the hood decal.

I was a bit disappointed in the lack of storage space inside the Desert Hawk. There was no center console in the front, so placing your items down in the vehicle Is often a difficult chore.

Back seat was pretty tight and not too comfortable for anybody tall. Front seats are pretty roomy, though, and storage space is adequate.
One cool thing on the Desert Hawk is you can get the removable roof panels, a la the Wrangler, so you can drive around with the top off and enjoy the open air. The removed roof panels can be stored in the cargo area.

For the off-roader

Being a trail-rated 4x4, the Desert Hawk is aimed at the off roading crowd, not those who are strictly going to be driving on city streets. That trail-rated badge comes after testing on the Rubicon Trail.

A dial featuring Auto, Mud, Snow, Sand, and Rock options is included,, and performance will respond based on your choice. You also get hill start assist and hill descent control

One standard feature is off-road rock rails, which provide protection when you are maneuvering over rocks.Also, the Jeep Active Drive Low 4x4 system is featured, and allows for more control when off-roading at slower speeds.
The parking brake works very well, those it’s poorly placed and easy to set off accidentally.

Under the hood
The Desert Hawk I tested featured a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine; plus a 9-speed automatic transmission. Output was 180 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque.
A manual transmission is offered if you chose the 1.4-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine (160 hp); but the automatic is offered with the better engine, so you’ll have to choose between them.
The Renegade Desert Hawk is available in either front-wheel drive or AWD, but it’s a no-brainer to go for AWD.
In terms of overall ride quality, it’s not the smoothest ride but those who like Jeeps already know this and probably don’t care. It's not trying to be a Lexus. The draw is the off-road capability.

Technology, safety
The Renegade Desert Hawk features USB ports and a 1 year satellite radio subscription.
Some of the tech and safety options include:
-- A 6.5-inch touchscreen with navigation and UConnect, which worked great as usual. This infotainment system is one of best elements in all FCA vehicles. It’s well-designed for touch use and also excellent with voice response.

-- Backup camera, which I always like to have for safety reasons

--Safety and Security group, which features blind spot and cross path detection

-- Cold Weather group, including: Heated front seats, heated steering wheel, windshield wiper de-icer.

-- Remote start is also offered

If you go with the front-wheel drive Desert Hawk, officially you’ll get 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway; Go all-wheel drive and the numbers are: 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway. My average was lower than those numbers (19.2 mpg), which is a common issue with FCA vehicles.

Price, bottom line

The 2017 Jeep Renegade Desert Hawk 4x4 starts at $28,390 (slightly more than the regular Trailhawk version, which starts at $26,895), and with options my test vehicle came to $33,415. That seems a bit high at first, but this is a limited edition vehicle so it’s not surprising.

People tend to love or hate Jeeps. But if you’re in the love category, and want one that's unique and capable, you have an excellent option in the Renegade Desert Hawk.


--------------- can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.


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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.


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