The all-new Jeep Cherokee has styling that’s out of the ordinary for the iconic marque, but it still has plenty of cues to follow the design brief that ‘Jeeps must look like Jeeps’. The designers have done a very good job in adding aerodynamic sleekness to the new body, but have held onto enough of the shape of the most iconic of them all, the Jeep Wrangler, to make it instantly recognisable.
New Cherokee will certainly appeal to those seeing the hugely successful ‘He bought a Jeep’ advertising campaign.
The new Jeep Cherokee KL series has good all-terrain ability (of course), better fuel efficiency, lower emissions, plenty of the latest technology, and advanced safety systems.
An interesting feature is a nine-speed automatic transmission, though we should warn you now that unless you’re in the Northern Territory it’s unlikely you will ever see the Jeep in top gear. The gearing is set for countries that have more sensible speed limits than ours.
Available in four models, Sport, Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk, with a choice of two petrol engines and a turbo-diesel, prices start at $33,500, plus on-road costs.
Our test Jeep Cherokee was a Longitude 4WD with a 3.2-litre petrol V6 and the aforementioned nine-speed automatic, priced at $39,000. It was fitted with the optional 8.4-inch touch screen Uconnect radio with satellite navigation.
Designers have given us a front end that’s still slightly controversial in the shaping of the seven-slot grille, though it seems to be becoming more accepted by the day. It has signature Jeep cues such as the, trapezoidal wheel arches and the characteristic kink in the beltline.
Interestingly the DRLs (daytime running lights) are situated high on the front for effectiveness while fording water – we love that.
The Cherokee KL Series cabin was named one of Ward’s 10 Best Interiors for 2014. Compiled by US-based automotive resource WardsAuto.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The 3.2-litre Pentastar V6 200 kW makes its debut in the new Cherokee Longitude. It’s a smaller derivative of the 3.6-litre Pentastar unit we have seen in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler, Dodge Journey and Chrysler 300 for several years.
Jeep Cherokee is the first mid-size SUV to feature rear-axle disconnect, the axle seamlessly switches between two- and four-wheel drive without driver input. That’s to minimise fuel use and emission production. When conditions get tough Jeep’s Selec-Terrain traction control system lets the driver choose the on- and off-road setting for optimal performance. There are five settings – Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud and Rock
The test vehicle was fitted with the optional Uconnect system with satellite navigation allowing the driver to control sat-nav, audio, climate controls and much more from the touch screen, additional controls on the centre stack below the screen or with voice commands.
With large touch areas, the 8.4-inch colour screen with Uconnect is easy to use and includes Bluetooth connectivity, and audio streaming capability.
The driver can tailor the display to show speed, real-time fuel consumption, safety warnings, audio information and the Selec-Terrain system.
Seven airbags include multistage driver and front passenger airbags, driver knee bag, front seat-mounted side airbags and all-row side curtain airbags. A five-star ANCAP rating has been gained.
Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are backed up by Electronic Stability Control, traction control and hill-start assist. A tyre pressure monitoring system has all-wheel display.
Seating is provided for up to five adults, though four and a child is probably the preferred load for most. The high driving position provides good forward and side visibility, but the relatively shallow back windows mean there’s relatively restricted rear view. Large exterior mirrors make life simpler.
The powered tailgate, controlled from the key fob, allows easy access to the cargo area. This can be extended by folding the rear seatbacks flat. A handy feature in the Longitude is that the front passenger seatback folds to offer a flat area for to provide a desk for the man on the move – though obviously he (or she) shouldn’t be using it while the Jeep is in motion. In-seat storage is accessed by flipping up the seat cushion.
Response from the 3.2-litre V6 is so good off the mark you can spin the wheels of you’re not paying attention. Once up to speed, the automatic transmission works with quiet efficiency in a very smooth and easy American manner. Shift mapping automatically changes to suit varying conditions and the big choice of gears (keep in mind there are nine of them) means there’s something for every driver in every road or off-road condition.
Jeep claims the new Cherokee’s V6 is 20 per cent more fuel efficient than the engine it replaces. Our test Longitude had impressively low consumption of just 6.5 to 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres on the motorway. But that jumped to 13 to 15 litres per 100 in city and suburban traffic.
Go anywhere capability has been a Jeep feature for many years. The all-new Jeep Cherokee certainly doesn’t disappoint here. Couple that with decent ride comfort and a great new six-cylinder engine and you have a Jeep that’s already doing well in the sales race downunder.
AT A GLANCE
Sport 2.4-litre petrol 4×2 five-door wagon: $33,500 (automatic)
Longitude 3.2-litre petrol 4×4 five-door wagon: $39,000 (automatic)
Limited 3.2-litre petrol 4×4 five-door wagon: $44,000 (automatic)
Trailhawk 3.2-litre petrol 4×4 five-door wagon: $47,500 (automatic)
Limited 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $49,000 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Jeep dealer for driveaway prices.
ABS Brakes: Standard in all models
Automatic Transmission: Standard in all models
Cruise Control: Standard in all models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in all models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in all models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in all models
Reversing Camera: Standard in all models
USB/Auxiliary Audio Inputs: Standard in all models
Bluetooth: Standard in all models
Steering Wheel Mounted Controls: Standard in all models
SPECIFICATIONS (Jeep Cherokee Longitude 3.2-litre petrol 4×4 five-door wagon)
Capacity: 3.239 litres
Head Design: Four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Bore/Stroke: 91.0 mm x 83.0 mm
Maximum Power: 200 kW @ 6500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 316 Nm @ 4400 rpm
Driven Wheels: 4WD
Manual Transmission: Not offered
Automatic Transmission: Nine-speed
Final Drive Ratio:
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4624 mm
Width: 1859 mm
Height: 1683 mm (with roof rack)
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Turning Circle: 11.5 metres
Kerb Mass: 1834 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres
Towing Ability: 2200 kg with braked trailer
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Front Suspension: McPherson strut, coil springs, one-piece aluminium
sub-frame, aluminium lower control arms, stabiliser bar
Rear Suspension: Four link with trailing arm, coil springs, stabiliser bar
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Solid disc
0-100 km/h Acceleration: Not supplied
Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.3 L/100km
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Greenhouse Rating: 5.5 / 10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5 / 10