Jeep Cherokee review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Jeep Cherokee is a crossover that offers something a bit different to the usual small SUVs

For: 
Nice interior, off-road ability, sharp handling
Against: 
Controversial styling, only Trailhawk models get full off-road treatment, V6 model is thirsty

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The Jeep Cherokee is a boldy styled crossover, offering buyers something a little different in a class of cars that includes the Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Tiguan

In the past Jeeps haven’t necessarily been known for their interior quality but, now under Fiat ownership, things are improving and the Cherokee has one of the best yet. As ever, though, there’s a focus on delivering unrivalled off-road ability in the segment so buyers can pick between three different four-wheel-drive systems. That includes a special Trailhawk model that comes with unique styling for better approach and departure angles, as well as a rear-locking differential.

At the time of writing we’ve only had the chance to drive a 3.2-litre V6 model in the USA but UK-specific engine options will include a 2.0-litre diesel fitted to a nine-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. There are also efficient two-wheel-drive models, should you not need to ever stray from the tarmac. 

Our choice: Cherokee Limited 2.0-litre diesel

Styling

3.7

This is obviously one area where people will either be drawn in to Cherokee ownership or driven away. The bent grille and narrow headlights create a look that’s unlike anything else on the road, and the flagship Trailhawk model gets really rugged looking bumpers and special Trailhawk badging.

The interior features soft-touch plastics on the dashboard and door panels, chunky switchgear and high-quality options like a 6.4-inch touchscreen in the dashboard and a colour display in the intsrument cluster. Obviously, the more you spend the fancier it gets but even basic cars have a premium feel about them, while mid-spec Limited models get the colour screens, 18-inch alloys and full leather trim. 

Driving

3.8

The V6 petrol that we’ve driven is certainly not destined to be a big seller in the UK, but because we drove an early model in the USA, there were no diesels available. Still, there are plenty of positives to take from the experience, with impressive refinement and excellent, smooth shifts from the nine-speed auto. This’ll come hooked up to the 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel as standard, while a lower-powered 148bhp version of this engine will get a manual.

The ride was a little firmer than we were expecting but only in a way that feels robust rather than uncomfortable. We’ve also always associated Jeeps like the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee with being a bit cumbersome in the bends but the Cherokee is actually pretty agile. The steering is relatively quick and surprisingly responsive, giving it quite a sporty character. 

Reliability

3.9

Many of the Cherokee’s underpinnings are shared with other Fiat Group products like the Alfa Romeo Giulietta so they have proved themselves to be relatively reliable. Many of the electronics have also been designed for use across the Fiat Group and have been working well for the past year or so. 

As for the interior, Fiat has placed an emphasis on build quality in all of its products and the Cherokee has a robustness about it that was missing from some of Jeep’s earlier cabins.

The V6 petrol engine is tried and tested and we’re expecting the 2.0-litre diesels to be reliable, too. They’ve been recently introduced into the facelifted Giulietta line-up without any issues.

For crash safety, the Cherokee has performed very well in American crash safety testing by the IIHS, and was voted as a Top Safety Pick by the organization. Euro NCAP awarded it five stars, with a 92 per cent score for adult occupation protection.

Practicality

3.8

Since it’s not yet available in Europe, we don’t have confirmed figures for boot space. Still, it looks plenty big enough for a family’s weekend bags and it has a nice, low lip so you can easily load things in.

There’s also a pretty generous amount of leg and headroom in the back seats so you can squeeze in tall adults. 

Running Costs

3.8

We don’t have any finalized figures for the Cherokee’s European running costs but we know the V6 model will only deliver around 30mpg. The diesels, on the other hand, will offer nearer to 60mpg. 

The final servicing schedule and warranty details are also still to be confirmed by Jeep. 

Last updated: 10 Feb, 2014

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