There are car makers with enviable traditions. Like building rugged, all purpose vehicles, which get you anywhere, purely styled cars with a unique character and a noble pedigree. Above all this, these cars come even with a very significant history: nothing less here than having helped to make our world liberated and free. You guessed it, this make is called Jeep. It has been with us since 1941, as is proudly embossed in the steering wheel.
We sat behind the wheel of a beautifully styled Cherokee, which truly delivered everything it has been built for, and even more. It certainly exceeded our expectations...just read on!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The Cherokee certainly has the looks. This Jeep is a beauty. Its styling is timelessly well balanced, and this medium size SUV looks good from any angle. The front end is a modern interpretation of the classic Jeep grille with its vertical lines, however the whole elegantly curved with a very nice styling solution for the headlamps, which are markedly horizontal, representing a harmonious contrast with the vertical lines of the radiator grille.
The sideways styling treatment of this Cherokee is not marred with superfluous accent lines; it is a good example how elegant, self assured styling of a SUV should be. We also are very much taken by the somewhat square wheel arch outlines, reminiscent to the pure "squareness" of the original Jeeps.
The rear end is also distinguished by well proportioned surfaces and volumes as well as quiet, elegant styling.
A cabin to live in...
The same elegance combined with a flair of pure, timeless ruggedness one finds in the cabin. Instrumentation is clear, very practical and readable, with nice round dials for speedo and rev counter.
Between them on a screen just in front of you, one can read or see with picture symbols what is happening. So practical to read in clear English (or in the language of your choice) what is exactly happening, instead of getting a symbol which is only logical to the designer...
The dashboard layout is actually virtually similar to the Grand Cherokee, and one feels quickly at home. There is a large central display, with all the necessary functions. Hooking up your I phone is a breeze, all the navigation, media and radio controls are so self explaining, that you can use this Cherokee expertly without ever setting an eye on the manual.
And that is how a modern car should be. We truly enjoyed the excellent sound quality of the radio and audio system in general, as we were testing the car just in the midst of the Queen Elisabeth Competition for Violin, and we found the Cherokee a grand place to be to enjoy the classic violin sound of the talented candidates; in the meantime, we can utter here a word of praise of the excellent sound insulation of this Cherokee, with virtually no road noise/tyre roar and or engine throb being transmitted into the cabin. So the Cherokee is a nice car to spend hours in for music lovers while travelling hundreds of kilometres? You bet!
But you don’t have to be fond of melodious sounds to appreciate the excellent quality and comfort of the leather seats, which whirr discreetly into position whenever you push the ignition on. We liked this very much, the fact that the front seat automatically adjusts in your chosen ideal position whenever you slide behind the wheel. When, at the end of your journey, you put the contact off, the seats automatically travel fully backward, so you can easily step out of the car. Sooo nice!
Our test car came with the full panorama roof, so you could just by pushing the automatic button on the roof let the sunny skies in, or out, it things are getting too hot for you. Again, the commands are all ideally placed, the touchscreen makes using all the functions a childlike affair. The Cherokee is certainly a car to live in... and enjoy living with!
Velvet Latin Diesel power...
The heart if the Cherokee we tested comes from the Fiat group. The unit is build in its Italian factory at Pratola Serra. And Diesel specialists they are, having acquired a masterful expertise in making modern, smooth, powerful and frugal Diesels, with state of the art low emissions.
So, as could be expected, the 2 litre, 170 HP four cylinder double overhead cam 16 valve Multijet II unit combines well with the Cherokee, and also mates ideally with the 9 speed auto transmission. Indeed, the torque characteristics of this engine are perfectly suited to the gearing and the gearchange behaviour of the box, which chooses smoothly the right gear in every driving circumstance. Maximum power is 125 kW or 170 HP at 4000 rpm, with maximum torque 350 Nm at 1750 rpm. On small throttle openings, the box lets the engine pull at very low revs, which of course helps economy. Some engine vibrations are then noticeable, but in sedate city driving and boulevard cruising, consumption is impressively low.
During our test, with a lot of city driving included, we clocked an average consumption of merely 6 litres/100 km(!)
The Cherokee is a very pleasant car to drive in dense city traffic, with its ultra smooth and alert transmission, and ample engine torque with for that instant power to suit any traffic situation. All round visibility is excellent, partly due of course to the higher driving position in this SUV. It is even frugal to: we hardly went over 7 litres/100 km in slow, dense traffic.
The Cherokee also excels on those long motorway journeys, with the engine remaining virtually inaudible at speed, road and wind noise being very well subdued. When cruising at speeds slightly below the legal limit in our country, say around 115 km/h, slight engine vibrations are noticeable as the engine pulls at low revs in the highest 9th gear, turning at merely 1400 rpm. One is advised, to cruise at slightly higher speeds, say a shade over 120 km/h. The engine remains inaudible then and is silk smooth. Of course, this delivers excellent constant speed consumption figures.
Cruising at 120 km/h, the big Cherokee sets you back only 5,6 litres per 100 km.
The 170 HP or 125 kW warrants lively performance. The Cherokee will accelerate from 0 to 100 in 10,1seconds, and achieves a top speed of 192 km/h. As said, high cruising speeds are a comfortable pleasure in the Cherokee, as straight line stability is excellent, and the roadholding and stability are superb in long, fast (motorway) curves. A word of praise is also fitting for the excellent cruise control, together with distance radar functions, which operates very smoothly indeed, and recognises traffic situations very well.
Well balanced suspension with excellent off-road properties.
The Cherokee is very comfortable, and will iron out the worst road surfaces, offering its occupants a high level of comfort in all circumstances. This is where the vast experience of Jeep really tells, with the suspension striking a very good balance between roadholding, handling, and comfort. The Cherokee can be driven with spirit, long fast curves are its element, as we said above, the steering gives plenty of feedback and remains very precise. Not that the Cherokee inspires you to throw it around, but it certainly is up to the task when the pace is fast(er).
Then we have said nothing about its truly excellent off-road capabilities. Here the Cherokee really stands out. The driver finds a handy selector knob on the centre console, where with a simple turn, he can adapt the 4 WD system to all terrain conditions. He can choose between “auto, “snow”, “sand/mud”, and last but not least, also “sport” mode. This means that the box in this “sport’ position will choose a markedly higher rev range, and the Cherokee becomes a very alert performer. Of course, here the slight drive train and engine vibrations due to the engine pulling efficiently at low revs are totally absent, as the engine works in the higher rev ranges.
We put the Cherokee also through its paces on unhardened terrain, and were very impressed indeed. It takes large denivellations and ridges very well into its stride, and has sufficient ride height and short overhangs to tackle most demanding terrain.
The Cherokee has a lot of trump cards up its sleeve. It is stylish, has a smooth, powerful engine, coupled to a state of the art 9 speed transmission. This Jeep feels as well at home in the city as on the motorways, is fit for long, enjoyable journeys, where one can really go off the beaten track if you wish: this Jeep has, in line with its long tradition, excellent off-road qualities.
On top of all that, it has a very pleasant cabin, with very good ergonomics and practicality, and excellent seats. So we would suggest, take the wheel of this Jeep, and you might discover a trustworthy with a pedigree, which you would love to call your own...
Hans knol ten Bensel