The Jeep Cherokee is a mid-sized SUV for anyone who likes their motoring with a little extra touch of ‘yee-haw’. It’s a bold-looking machine that is also extremely capable off road - far more so than many of its road-centric rivals - even if it actually shares many underpinnings with humble sister cars from Fiat.
One glance at the Jeep Cherokee immediately tells you that it hails from the land of apple pie and Elvis. For a start, chrome trim abounds, and there is absolutely no mistaking that seven-bar grille for anything other than a Jeep.
The Cherokee design also shows that Jeep was looking forward – gone was the vertical front end flanked by two circular headlights. Instead, the Cherokee has an angular, sloping front end with two narrow lights that look like Iron Man’s eyes. The radiator grille is built in to the bonnet, and the bumper also features another pair of lights. Below this are a couple of fog lights.
The angular look continues along the sides, where the wheel arches are almost square, while at the rear the rugged look continues with plenty of black plastic and a rear skid plate below the bumper.
The rear lights flanking the tailgate also resemble the eyes from Iron Man’s costume – and the effect is even more obvious if you buy one in metallic burgundy.
One glance at the Jeep Cherokee immediately tells you that it hails from the land of apple pie and Elvis.
What’s it like to drive?
Engine-wise, it’s pretty much diesel all the way. Yes, there was a 3.2-litre V6 petrol, but these are as rare as a traffic-free M25 and very uneconomical.
The 2.0-litre diesel is available with a pair of power outputs. The better of these is the more powerful option as it has an automatic gearbox as standard.
If you need 4-wheel drive, the 2.2-litre diesel is what to look for. Again, this is available with a couple of power outputs and an automatic gearbox. These engines are all capable on the motorway, and give the Cherokee a decent turn of pace everywhere else.
The steering is also quick, and the car responds well to inputs, while body control around corners is tidy. If there’s a downside to the Cherokee, there’s a fair bit of road noise when you’re on the move.
If you need 4-wheel drive, the 2.2-litre diesel is what to look for.
As with the exterior, the inside of the Jeep Cherokee brings the car wholly up to date, with its swooping, curvy design and a variety of classy-looking materials.
You’ll find the controls for the electric windows and electrically adjustable mirrors on the driver’s door, just where you’d expect them to be. Continuing that theme, the headlight knob is down on the right-hand end of the dashboard, and below it there’s a small drop-down storage box for change and takeaway ketchup pots.
The steering wheel itself is nice and round, and fairly festooned with buttons that let you control the cruise control, the mobile phone system and other car settings. In front of it lies a traditional-looking instrument cluster that contains a couple of clear dials for the car’s speed and revs, and there’s a decent-sized digital display between them that gives you information on the car’s economy, fuel-tank range and average speed.
A large touchscreen dominates the centre of the dashboard, and contains the sat-nav, DAB radio and suchlike.
Then there’s the climate control system, which comprises various buttons and knobs to direct the airflow, and a couple of rocker switches to vary the temperature.
All Cherokees are well equipped, with even entry-level Longitude models featuring cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, a powered tailgate and rear parking sensors. Moving up the range adds niceties such as leather trim, keyless entry, a panoramic sunroof and a heated steering wheel.
The Jeep Cherokee makes a great vehicle for a family of four. There is plenty of space up front for anyone to get comfortable, not just because of the available room but also because of the range of adjustment.
There’s also decent space behind for a couple of average-sized occupants, but the Cherokee has an ace card in the shape of a sliding rear seat, which allows you to vary rear legroom or boot space, according to your needs.
The boot is a decent size, too, although some rivals have larger load capacities. Still, fold down the rear seats and they lie flat to give a completely level load area. There’s also no load lip at all, although the boot is still quite a long way off the ground. This is an SUV after all.
The door pockets, meanwhile, are a reasonable size, and there are a few other cubbies doted around the cabin.
Running costs and reliability
Leaving aside the 3.2-litre V6 (it’ll pass anything except a petrol station etc), the diesel engines do a decent job of drinking not a lot. Even the 4-wheel-drive 2.2-litre models have an official economy figure close to 50mpg, and all versions have a decent-sized fuel tank, so you’ll go a long way between fills.
Insurance costs are entirely middling, with the Cherokee ranging from group 26 to group 37 (although a couple of special editions sit in group 42).
What cinch loves
The Jeep Cherokee is as American as pumpkin pie, and all the better for it. If the ambience and appearance suit you, you’ll be happy as a pig in mud to own it. The interior has plenty of space for a family, and you can carry a third person in the middle of the rear seat as long as the others don’t mind rubbing shoulders. The boot is big enough for their stuff and can be extended by sliding forward the rear seat.
It’s also good to drive on the road and has an ace card in the fact that it can travel farther off road than the average sheep, which makes it great if you tow or go camping.
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The Jeep Cherokee faces some serious rivals, but it is in no way overshadowed. It is easily roomy enough for a family of four and can take all your ‘outdoors weekend’ kit, too. It won’t drink a vast amount of fuel and there’s plenty of kit to keep you comfortable and entertained.
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