Jeep, with its latest Cherokee, has done the reverse with the KL Sport nomenclature being slapped on the entry-level, four-cylinder two-wheel drive variant, while better-off siblings – Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk – enjoy the advantages of a V6 engine and four-wheel drive, hence sportier performance.
Saving grace is the nine-speed automatic transmission the Sport shares with other family members and the design and quality fitout which matches its more expensive mates. Then there’s the price; $33,500 for the entry-level 4×2, as opposed to $40k-plus for the others. A big difference which puts the Sport within reach of a lot more buyers.
Designers have done a real Italian job on the new Jeep Cherokee. The sharp corners of old have been knocked off the exterior to be replaced by thoroughly up-to-date, mid-size sport utility vehicle styling.
However, traditional styling cues are allowed to shine through with the signature Jeep seven-slot radiator grille. The body has taken on a more aerodynamic profile without losing the tough, go-anywhere character Jeeps are famous for.
The latest LED technology is used throughout the all-new Jeep Cherokee. Up front, lighting features a distinctive new daytime running lamp shape, giving the impression of a slim headlamp.
Projector headlights almost disappear below the DRLs, which are positioned high for optimum use while water fording. LED tail lamps are designed to kick air off the side of the body which, together with lightweight aluminium wheels, add to aerodynamic efficiency.
The cabin interior is all soft touch surfaces and quality material upholstery with contrast stitching. Once again sculpted surfaces take the place of flat areas throughout, although there is still room for the odd nod to traditional Jeep trapezoidal shapes in the instrument and centre stack surrounds.
Standard features on the Sport model are a Jeep Uconnect 5-inch touchscreen media centre with Bluetooth and a media hub that offers USB, SD and auxiliary ports and charging capability, plus a 3.5-inch TFT grayscale reconfigurable instrument cluster which allows the driver to check speed, fuel economy and take note of safety warnings.
Guidelines are not part of the reversing camera image but audible warnings give notice when approaching obstacles.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
Dismiss the word ‘Sport’ straight away. The entry-level Cherokee Sport is powered by the Jeep 2.4-litre Tigershark four-cylinder engine which musters only an average 137 kW at 6400 rpm and 232 Nm of torque 4600 rpm.
Good news is the new nine-speed automatic transmission that makes the best of the paltry power while producing a claimed 33 per cent reduction in fuel consumption over its predecessor.
High-strength steel body panels and seven airbags, some multi-stage, that inflate with a force appropriate to the severity of the impact, cocoon occupants, while four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, electronic stability control and traction control help prevent an accident in the first place.
The Cherokee Sport runs out of puff on steep inclines and ensures the tranny is kept hard at work when you have a full house of passengers and their gear on board. Manoeuvrability is a breeze with electric power steering delivering the goods.
Our test vehicle recorded fuel consumption of 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres in highway driving and 13.6 litres per 100km in city traffic, on the high side of the ledger, no doubt due to the close-to two tonnes the four-cylinder motor had to push around.
Space and comfort come up to scratch for a mid-size SUV but the Cherokee shows its left-hand drive origins with the absence of a driver-steadying left footrest in the right-hand drive version Australia receives.
Forget the ‘Sport’ moniker and this Cherokee is a modern mid-size two-wheel drive SUV at home in the urban landscape. To onlookers it has all the Jeep off-road capabilities. But we know better.
AT A GLANCE
Jeep Cherokee Sport 4×2 2.4-litre petrol five-door wagon: $33,500 (automatic)
Jeep Cherokee Longitude 4×4 3.2-litre V6 petrol five-door wagon: $39,000 (automatic)
Jeep Cherokee Limited 4×4 3.2-litre V6 petrol five-door wagon: $44,000 (automatic)
Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 4×4 3.2-litre V6 petrol five-door wagon: $47,500 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Jeep dealer for drive-away prices.
Uconnect 5-inch touchscreen media centre with Bluetooth and a media hub that offers USB (centre console), SD and auxiliary ports and charging capability
New 3.5-inch full-colour, thin-film transistor (TFT) centre cluster
Cloth seats with driver and passenger manual height adjustment
Driver-seat back pocket
60/40 split rear seat that reclines and adjusts fore and aft with armrest and cup holder,
7 airbags including multistage driver and front passenger air bags, driver knee bag, front seat-mounted side air bags, supplemental all-row side
curtain air bags
LED tail lamps and daytime running lamps; halogen projector headlamps
Bright exhaust tip
Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes
Electronic stability control
Electric power steering
Power windows with front one-touch up and down
Electric park brake
Air conditioning with rear outlets
Remote keyless entry
Tyre pressure monitoring system with four tyre display
17-inch aluminium wheels with all-season tyres and full-size spare
Rear reversing camera
ParkSense rear park assist (option)
SPECIFICATIONS (Jeep Cherokee Sport 4×2 2.4-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine))
Capacity: 2.360 litres
Configuration: Inline four-cylinder, 16-valve MultiAir. SOHC, four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 88.0 mm x 97.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Maximum Power: 137 kW @ 6400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 232 Nm @ 4600 rpm
Nine-speed automatic transmission
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4624 mm
Width: 1858.8 mm
Height: 1670.2 mm (with roof rack)
Wheelbase: 2699 mm
Track: 1580.0 mm (front); 1573.2 mm (rear)
Ground clearance: 221.6 mm
Approach angle: 16.7 deg
Departure angle: 24.6 deg
Break over angle: 17.7 deg
Tare weight: 2290 kg
Kerb weight: 1834 kg
Gross weight limit: 2041 kg
Drag co-efficient: Cd 0.332
Cargo capacity: 0.7 cu m; 1.555 cu m (second row folded)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres
Towing capacity: 2200 kg (braked)
Turning circle: 11.5 m
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Suspension: McPherson strut, long travel coil springs, one-piece aluminium
sub-frame, aluminium lower control arms, stabiliser bar (front); four link suspension with trailing arm, aluminium lateral links, isolated high-strength steel rear cradle, coil springs, and stabiliser bar (rear)
Brakes: 330 x 28 vented rotor with 60 single-piston floating calliper (front); 278 x 12 solid rotor with 38 single-piston floating calliper (rear).
Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h: N/A
Top speed: N/A
Fuel type: 91 RON unleaded
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 8.3 litres per 100 km. CO2 emissions 232 g / km (4×2 with automatic transmission)
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Greenhouse Rating: 6.5 / 10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5 / 10