Is it just us or does the medium sized sport utility vehicle sector look a little bit mundane? The Japanese giants are tripping over each other making very capable but also very similar vehicles in many ways. The premium brands are trying hard to be different but their price tags seem to be climbing to match any bold design changes. Jeep on the other hand are flying just under the radar but the big question is, are they on your radar when you are thinking of buying a new mid-sized SUV? This week we have been driving and enjoying the new Jeep Cherokee. Some say this is the jeep that invented this sector many moons ago but poor sales against its rivals meant it was all to often forgotten. Now things are about to change and we firmly believe this different and rather attractive SUV will raise some eyebrows in an already crowded market place.
Purchasers will have a choice between a 140hp or this 170hp 2.0-litre MultiJet II turbo-diesel engine that we have on test. The front-wheel drive basic 140hp manual uses just 5.3 L/100km on the combined cycle and spews out 139g/km of CO2, dropping it in Tax Band B2 (€280 per annum) whilst my test vehicle with all wheel drive and a smooth nine-speed automatic transmission, falls into Tax Band C (€390 p.a.) with emissions of 154g/km and a fuel economy figure of 5.8L/100km. These are pretty good figures for a Jeep of this size and its no slouch either with 100 km/h coming up in a shade over 10 seconds and a top speed of 192 km/h. Inside you can tell the bigger Grand Cherokee has influenced the design greatly and in doing so more quality products have been used with a nice soft touch dash and elegant dial surrounds.
In Limited spec, which we have, we are treated to heated and ventilated leather trimmed seats with the driver benefiting from an 8-way power seat with 4-way electronic lumbar support. These creature comforts certainly push the Cherokee into the premium sector and the customer configurable 7-inch screen features a wealth of entertainment capabilities including the award winning Uconnect. On engine start-up we experienced the first negative in the fact that from cold the new all aluminium cylinder head with a double overhead cam engine is slightly noisy until warm. Vibration is not an issue thanks to the cast iron cylinder block with a balance shaft unit to reduce engine movement but we noticed in the mornings it was just little loud but could perhaps be rectified with more sound deadening. On the road the Cherokee comes into its own and feels comfortable and luxurious to drive.
The 9-speed automatic is nice and smooth going up and down the gears although when you plant your foot it does drop two to three gears sending the rev counter high when overtaking. A little bit of time behind the wheel and you will easily adapt your driving style to be more in-tune with the gearbox when overtaking. Off road capabilities were high on Jeeps list of “must do’s” also with a multi terrain setting choice for the driver but even more clever is the fact that its the first mid-size SUV to feature rear axle disconnect, meaning it only uses all wheel drive when needed. It does this seamlessly without any input from the driver regardless of what setting you are in. This obviously helps in achieving the fuel-efficient figures we mentioned earlier.
In terms of space you wont be disappointed either. There are cubbyholes, pockets, cargo nets and adjustable rear seats to make it a truly pleasant place to be. If the 591 litres of boot space are not enough with the seats up you can drop them to make 1,267 litres or tow up to 2,475kg with this Auto 170hp model. Safety was paramount too with no fewer than seven airbags as standard and trick electronic aids such as Forward Collision Warning with Crash Mitigation, LaneSense Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path (RCP) detection which is ideal for those school runs. We enjoyed our time with the Jeep Cherokee Limited and we believe it is a credible alternative and certainly one of the best looking SUV’s available in Ireland right now. You can get into a 140hp 6-speed manual Longitude for €36,000 and €43,750 for the Automatic version. Should you want the Limited model I’m driving be prepared to pay upwards of €50,900 depending on what options you choose. Remember one thing though, it’s nice to be different!
Engine Size – 1956cc
Fuel Type – Diesel
Power – 170hp
Torque – 350Nm
Acceleration (0-100km/h) – 10.3 seconds
Top Speed – 192 km/h
Consumption (Combined) – 5.8L/100km
CO2 Emissions – 154 g/km
Road Tax – Band C €390
Base Price – €36,000
Price as Tested – €58,260