Carzone drives Jeep's new mid-sized SUV on and off-road
Pros: Distinct looks, off-roading prowess. great equipment levels
Cons: Boot space, rivals more refined, expensive
The popularity of SUVs is booming in Ireland and you only need to glance at daily search figures on Carzone to see it. Six out of the ten top-searched new cars belong in the SUV segment and this trend shows no sign of slowing down for 2017 with sales figures rising across the segment. But how many of these rugged-looking cars actually have off road credentials? If truth be told, not all that many. Jeep is a name which is synonymous with producing purpose-built off road vehicles, and this year it has released a newly-revised fourth generation Cherokee. With handsome new styling, a heavily-facelifted interior and proper off-roading credentials, the Cherokee is a new option in the segment and will appeal to those who know what the name Jeep stands for. But does it have enough charm to meet the demands of the modern SUV buyer?
What is it like?
The new Cherokee is the mid-sized option in Jeep’s range and the smaller brother to the range-topping Grand Cherokee. While it’s styling will divide opinion, Jeep’s distinctive grille and highly-placed thin LED daytime running lights do lend it a distinctive face. In an effort to appeal to European buyers, the Cherokee is less boxy than the Jeep models of old and it comes with a range of standard features for an off-road finish, including chrome trim, alloy wheels and roof bars. Twin exhaust pipes at the rear and black plastic mouldings along the surrounds are nice finishing touches.
True to its name, the Cherokee feels solidly built when you step inside. The front seats are spacious with an abundance of head and legroom, and there is a similar amount of room in the rear bench. Everything about the hard-wearing dashboard and switchgear is minimalistic and makes the Cherokee fit for off-roading purpose. The layout of the Cherokee’s infotainment system and dashboard doesn’t feel as slick or technically advanced as some of its rivals, but that said, it is easy to use with big buttons and an uncluttered feel. The driving position is comfortable with a range of electronic adjustments in the seat, while the armrest is ideally situated for comfort. The boot opens electrically and is quite small at 412 litres in size with the parcel shelf in place.
The Cherokee is available with two different diesel engines in Ireland, a 2.0-litre diesel engine and a more powerful 2.2-litre diesel version, our test car featuring the latter. Performance on paper is strong with a power output of 200hp and torque output of 440Nm, which translates to the road well as the Cherokee accelerates swiftly from low speeds and cruises confidently at higher motorway speeds. This engine is well-matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission with an additional manual shifting mode which is useful in off-road scenarios, although it is noisier than a lot of competitor offerings.
We sampled the Cherokee in a few different of-road scenarios including wet grass, mud and gravel and it certainly lives up to its reputation, with lots of grip and a surefooted feel. Beside the gearstick there are several different modes which can be selected including Snow, Sport and Sand/Mud mode, and each alternates the electric setting and distribution of power from the four-wheel-drive system. The Cherokee handles just as well out on the road too and it’s very comfortable, soaking up bumps adequately. In terms of running costs, we found it to be quite good returning 8 litres per 100 kilometres in fuel economy, while motor tax for the year comes in at €390. Stop/start is standard on all models.
There are three different models to choose from, with a base ‘Longitude’ version, mid-level ‘Longitude+’ and the range-topping ‘Limited’ which is the one we drove. Specification is very strong right from the base models with a host of standard equipment including an electric boot door, automatic lights, electric driver’s seat, rear park assist, 17-inch alloy wheels and lots more. The highest specification model adds larger wheels, a 7-inch touchscreen display, leather-trimmed and heated seats and Bi Xenon headlights to name a few.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
There are certain things which make the Cherokee stand out from other mid-sized SUVs on the market, which we love. It looks different, the serving of standard equipment is outstanding and it offers reasonable running costs too, along with true off-roading ability. It’s quite expensive however and as we touched on earlier, is not as refined as some of the latest offerings on the market when we consider cars like the new Volkswagen Tiguan and Land Rover Discovery Sport. If you can overlook this and are considering a purchase, we’d recommend investing in the automatic transmission.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Jeep Cherokee Limited
Prices from: €38,350
Price as tested: €57,200
Annual Road Tax: €390
Engine: 2184cc four-cylinder Diesel
Power/Torque: 200bhp, 440Nm
Top Speed: 180 km/h
0-100km/h: 10.6 seconds
Body style: 5-Door SUV
Boot Space: 412 litres
Euro NCAP Safety Rating: 5 Stars