While the latest-generation Jeep Cherokee certainly heralds a bold new look for Jeep, Howell argues that all the ‘right’ Jeep DNA, including the trademark seven-slot grille, trapezoidal wheel-arches and short overhangs, have all been cleverly incorporated into the new design.
It’s still something of a gamble though, as the larger, more traditionally-styled Grand Cherokee has been a big success for Jeep, combining style and features with a good deal of cache at a reasonable price.
Unlike rival 2WD models in the mid-size SUV segment, such as the Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport and\Toyota RAV4 GXL, which make do with 2.0-litre petrol engines, the entry-level Cherokee Sport gets a 2.4-litre petrol engine.
This is unlikely to hold the Jeep Cherokee back as it has raised the bar when it comes to transmissions by equipping the entire model range with a first-in-segment nine-speed automatic as standard. The gearbox is designed by Jeep, but manufactured by well-known German specialist, ZF Friedricshafen AG.
The latest Cherokee is available in four grades; Sport, Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk, powered by one of three different engines including a 200kW/315Nm 3.2-litre V6 Pentastar and 125kW/350Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, which will join the range later this year.
Only the base model Sport is available with a four-cylinder powertrain and 2WD, all other model variants get the V6 with a choice of three different 4WD systems.
Inside, Cherokee’s design revolution continues unabated, with a blend of quality, soft-touch materials and plenty of cool technology on the higher grades.
Jeep’s intention was to squeeze as much of the Grand Cherokee into this smaller package – and they’ve done a darn good job.
All the controls are clear and simple, centred on some tasty technology such as the 8.4-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation (on the Limited and Trailhawk) and one of the most user-friendly Bluetooth pairing systems we’ve seen.
That said, the entire Cherokee range is well-appointed with even the base Sport scoring a range of features including 17-inch alloy wheels, five-inch touchscreen with voice command, Bluetooth phone and music, LED daytime running lights, projector headlamps and rear-view camera.
Published: Friday, June 13, 2014