Jeep Cherokee: car review
The Cherokee is a definite return to form by Jeep.
What is it?
The Jeep Cherokee is a new SUV from the world’s oldest 4×4 maker. It’s a rival for the likes of the BMW X3, Honda CR-V and Land Rover Freelander.
How safe is it?
It should protect you and yours in an accident, thanks to a comprehensive list of safety equipment fitted as standard. Euro NCAP rates the car highly.
Who should buy one?
If you like the Cherokee’s striking styling, the new Jeep is a definite contender although there are many talented cars in this class.
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
The old Cherokee quietly disappeared from showrooms back in 2010. It was big, heavy and tough car, but increasingly out of tune with the times. The 2014 Jeep Cherokee is altogether more modern, and far more capable on Tarmac.
Today’s Cherokee rides more comfortably than the old model, and the suspension goes about the business of absorbing bumps quietly. Only really sharp imperfections in the road surface unsettle the car.
Light steering and relatively soft suspension means the Jeep isn’t as much fun to drive as a BMW X3, but it handles neatly enough.
For the time being the Cherokee is only available with diesel power. Jeep predicts most buyers will go for the more powerful 170PS (168bhp) version. All models with this engine are 4x4s, and all have a nine-speed automatic gearbox. The auto changes gear unobtrusively and makes the most of the available performance. However, it’s worth noting that many of the Jeep’s rivals offer more powerful engine options.
Go for the 140PS (138bhp) version of the same engine and there’s a choice of two- and four-wheel-drive versions. Either way the lower-powered models have a six-speed manual gearbox. It has a precise but rather stiff action. We preferred the auto.
Whatever the power output the engine sounds strained when accelerating hard. That’s a shame, as otherwise the Cherokee is a reasonably quiet and refined car, except for road noise when driving over coarse surfaces.
Head off-road in the 4×4 version and the Jeep proves able – you’d expect nothing less from a brand with over 70 years experience building 4x4s. That said, it’s odd that there’s no hill descent control to maintain a slow and constant speed when driving down steep slopes. That omission will be corrected when the off-road-focussed Trailhawk model arrives towards the end of the year, although this version will only be sold with a 3.2-litre petrol engine.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Fit and finish in the new Jeep Cherokee show a huge step forward. The cabin feels solidly put together from attractive and upmarket materials.
There’s a huge 8.4-inch touchscreen on all but the most basic models. It’s easy to use, and we’re pleased to see the air-con temperature controls have been kept separate so they can be adjusted quickly without wading through on-screen menus.
The driver and front seat passenger get plenty of space, and adults have just about enough room to get comfortable in the back. It’s good to see air vents between the two front seats to keep rear-seat passengers cool on hot days. Just think twice before ordering the panoramic sunroof, as it eats into headroom.
Luggage space isn’t as generous as in a Honda CR-V, but the boot is a good square shape and there’s 77 litres of additional storage under the floor. You can slide the rear seats forward to make more space, but of course this compromises legroom.
Folding the back seats down frees up a maximum luggage capacity of 1267 litres.
Our biggest criticism is the thick front windscreen pillars, which compromise visibility at junctions. Otherwise there’s every sign the Cherokee is a very safe car. It has been awarded five stars by the safety experts at Euro NCAP and there are several high-tech safety systems available, including Forward Collision Warning with Crash Mitigation which uses radar to help the driver avoid a crash, or reduce its severity.
Until the Trailhawk version arrives, there are three spec levels to choose between: Longitude, Longitude+ and Limited. The most affordable Longitude models have LED running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning, electric front windows, Bluetooth connectivity and rear parking sensors. Additions on the Longitude+ car include an 8.4-inch touchscreen, sat nav, a DAB radio and a nine-speaker stereo. Equipment on Limited models is anything but, with keyless entry, rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats and 18-inch alloys.
Forget gas-guzzling Jeeps of the past. You no longer need your own oil well to run a Cherokee. The front-wheel-drive model has an official combined figure of 53.3mpg. The 140 4×4 returns 50.4mpg, while the 170 4×4 achieves 48.7mpg. These aren’t class-leading figures, but don’t trail the opposition by much. Prices start from £25,495. That’s more than you’d pay for an entry level Honda CR-V or Land Rover Freelander, but undercuts the cheapest BMW X3.
The Cherokee is a definite return to form by Jeep.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds
Economy: 48.7mpg combined
Insurance: Group TBA
Tax: Band G (£180 first year)
Figures for the 2.0 Limited 170 Automatic 4×4