Gina Baksa heads to the North Yorkshire Moors for exciting off-road action with Renegade, Wrangler and Cherokee Jeeps
Freedom. Fun. Adventure. Never has a brand embodied these values as much as Jeep. The iconic SUV pioneer celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and what better location to test the 4×4 legend than with an off-road ramble across the North York Moors national park.
From the first Willys Jeep in 1941 to today’s luxury Grand Cherokee SUV, Jeep has consistently captured the imagination of the public and its owners. For me, the Willy will be forever synonymous with the Seventies TV show M*A*S*H. From 1945 onwards, Willys took its four-wheel drive vehicle to the public with its CJ (Civilian Jeep) versions, making these the first mass-produced 4×4 civilian vehicles.
We’re outside the Feversham Arms Hotel in beautiful Helmsley after a fabulous overnight stay (breakfasts are superb). Suitably fortified with coffee and a full English, I’m ready to test Jeep’s 75th-anniversary special editions: Renegade, Wrangler, Cherokee and Grand Cherokee across challenging Yorkshire terrain.
Choosing a funky red Renegade with co-driver Brian, this is my first time in a Jeep and I’m impressed by the solid build and comfortable ride. The 2.0-litre, 140hp 9-speed automatic engine is a smooth operator chomping at the bit. And I love the height advantage of an SUV – better all-round visibility and a greater feeling of safety. It’s raining heavily but the wipers are efficient, the cabin is warm – thank you heated seats – the controls easily at hand and the sound system superb. Black cloth seats with tangerine accent stitching and a sexy leather-wrapped steering wheel add to the aesthetic comfort. I want a Renegade.
Available in petrol and diesel, with colour options of black, grey, white and Jungle green, the Renegade 75th editions are gorgeously vibrant. Key features include the Anniversary edition badge, bronze accents on the iconic 7-grille and My Sky removable roof panels. The instrument cluster has an easy-to-view 7-inch display and I especially appreciate the lane departure warning triangles on the wing mirrors. Particularly useful on country lanes, as well as motorways.
Leaving Helmsley we drive – in misty drizzle – to Kirkymoorside then to Pickering, turning north over the North York Moors past Fylingdales to enigmatic Whitby (a must-visit for Dracula fans) and our final destination, the offroad track just above beautiful Robin Hood’s Bay.
Here, the North Sea is boisterous and it’s blowing a gale. We are ankle deep in mud. It’s freezing. Perfect testing ground for the gutsy Renegade, which negotiates the steep curves and climbs with ease. This is my first off-roading session and I’m loving it. Slithers of sunlight attempt to pierce an overcast grey sky that ends in the perfect English downpour. Thankfully Jeep’s 75th-anniversary pop-up showroom provides welcome coffee and shelter from the elements.