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In-depth reviews

Jeep Cherokee (2014-2019) review - Engines, performance and drive

Even the top-spec 2.2-litre auto lags behind rivals in terms of drive and performance. The Cherokee’s comfort-biased setup makes it tolerable on longer journeys but it wallows and rolls on country roads

It only takes a few minutes perched behind the wheel of the Cherokee to realise this is a car aimed primarily at being as comfortable as possible.

Jeep has made big boasts about this car moving away from agricultural handling to more car-like road manners, but it has focused so heavily on a smooth ride that can handle the worst British tarmac that the drive is rather inert and disappointing. There’s lots of body roll and extremely light steering even at higher A-road speeds.

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The 2.2-litre diesel adds weight over the nose, but as a result the Cherokee is rather wallowy in the corners. The steering doesn’t let you know what the front wheels are up to, though four-wheel drive models do get plenty of grip. 

The Nissan Qashqai and Ford Kuga strike a better balance between family-friendly ride quality and a modicum of composure in faster driving. If your budget allows, though, the BMW X3 is this segment’s class leader. 

Special praise must go to the Cherokee’s nine-speed automatic gearbox, which is optional on the lower powered diesel and standard with the bigger one. We’re often wary of gearboxes with eight or nine speeds as they can change gear too often in the name of meagre fuel consumption improvements.

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But not only is the Jeep’s gearbox smoother than Land Rover's nine-speeder, it also contributes to a claimed 16% improvement in efficiency versus the old Cherokee.

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It makes it a great motorway cruiser, and mated to the soft suspension ensures it is very easy to drive long distances. Refinement is pretty good, too, though the diesel engines are a little rattly at idle. It’s just a shame Jeep doesn’t offer any steering wheel-mounted paddles.

Engines  

Engines ranged from a basic 138bhp diesel to a stonking 3.2-litre V6 petrol for the Cherokee at launch. But the 2018 update sees them dropped with just a 2.2-litre diesel in 150hp or 195hp guises offered. These two offer the best compromise of performance versus running costs, so it's no great loss to see the other engines disappear.

The entry-level diesel is available with a choice of front or four-wheel drive, while the more powerful one is 4x4 only, but with Jeep's clever rear axle disconnect system that boosts fuel efficiency. There's plenty of torque, but the 2.2 doesn’t feel quite as smooth or quick as a BMW X3 xDrive20d, and is significantly off the pace compared to higher-power (but similarly priced) rivals. It’s by far the pick of the range though, and the one we’d recommend if you’ve got your heart set on a Cherokee.

None of the diesels are particularly refined around town, but out on the open road they settle down into a quiet thrum. Plant the throttle though and the gruff clatter sparks back up – encouraging gentle progress on longer journeys. 

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