Jeep is a remarkable brand in Ireland. It is an incredibly well known name, yet it sells only in tiny numbers. People misuse the brand name Jeep to describe any SUV in the same way people say Hoover, again a brand, when they mean vacuum cleaner. Jeep Cherokee is a mainstay of the FCA group owned brand and we’ve put the latest 2.2-litre Cherokee through its paces.
Front wheel drive versions are available with the 2-litre 140hp diesel. Prices start from €38,350 but all four-wheel drive versions use the new efficient 2.2-litre. The standard output is set at 168hp, with only the top spec Cherokee getting 200hp.
Jeep Cherokee has a nice distinct appearance. The grille is a modern take on the classic Jeep grille. The headlights clusters are cool too. Inside the cabin of our high spec test car it is quite a plush place to be. The leather seats are big and comfortable. There is a large touch screen centre display that houses all the U-Connect apps and lots of secondary controls like the heated/cooled seats etc. The five-seat Jeep has a good boot too at 591-litres. You can fold the rear seats flat to have 1,267-litres of load space.
Our test car is the top spec 2.2-litre Multijet II Limited (top spec) version fitted with a 9-speed automatic gearbox. Straight away you’d be forgiven for thinking the 9-speed auto must be very smooth but in fact it isn’t overly. It is a little too lurchy at low speed and if you want to use it manually you must use the big lever and even then it will decide when it wants to shift. Ninth gear is very long and is beautifully geared for economical long distance cruising. Power is good too with 440nm of torque and 200hp. The 2.2 falls into tax band C while the 2-litre is in band B2. The new engine is quick with 0-100kph taking just 8.5 seconds. Most of the time the all-wheel drive system in Cherokee works as a front-wheel drive thanks to Active Drive that senses when there is no need for extra traction to maximise fuel economy.
On the road Cherokee is built for comfort and once you don’t corner quickly you’ll be happy behind the wheel. Take the twisty route home and you’ll roll and lurch in the bends as the suspension is clearly set up for soft roading rather than tarmac-ing (I may have just made up that word!). Should you wish to take your Jeep off road there is a simple rotary switch that lets you select from various transmission modes. Should you need to tow a braked triler; the weight limit is now up to 2,495kgs. All wheel drive versions start from €48,350 (entry Longtitude trim), next up is Longtitude + from €51,350 and the range topper Limited starts from €55,850.
Standard kit is good with 7 airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, a host of driver aids and ISOfix child seat anchors. As you step up trim levels the sound system gets better, although in our car the extra clear bass it delivered caused a vibration rattle ot two from the parts of the Cherokee made with hard plastic. There is a rearview camera, auto opening tailgate and ventilated front seats on our test car. Polished alloys are an almost unique look that Jeep brings to the market and overall the Cherokee has good street presence.
Should you buy a Cherokee before a Discovery Sport, X3 or even a GLC Mercedes? If you hate saying SUV and love saying you own a Jeep… then yes. The entry point to Jeep ownership is the Renegade (sister car to the FIAT 500X) and it is brilliant. Next year we will see the new Compass, which is between Renegade and Cherokee in size and price point. All petrolheads love the notion of Jeep and they are very capable off road too. If you buy one in Ireland you will join a very exclusive club… literally.