The all new Jeep Cherokee, which was launched in 2014, follows a long and proud history dating back to 1974. The Cherokee diesel is available only in the AWD Limited version and sits just below the 4WD Trailhawk and at the top of the range of the AWD versions. Externally, the Jeep Cherokee style is polarising, especially the interpretation of the traditional 7 slot Jeep Grill. Personally I like it and the overall style is like so many other midsized SUV’s yet still manages to somehow be distinct as well.
Cutting edge design elements, such as slimline daytime running lights as ‘eyebrows’ with lower headlights, combine with traditional DNA elements such as the peaked seven-slot grille, trapezoidal wheel arches and the functional ‘kink’ in the beltline mated to a tough, durable lower body provide the all-new Jeep Cherokee Limited with a commanding road presence.
Internally the Cherokee provides buyers with a luxurious European feel and clever design. The Cherokee interior is a blend of fluid shapes, high-quality soft touch materials, innovative colour and material choices, precision craftsmanship, state-of-the-art technology and clever features. Truly unlike what we would expect from an American design, but then expected after the Grand Cherokee.
The leather seats are comfortable, power adjustable, heated/ventilated with memory function and despite first impressions, they are supportive over long hours. In front of the driver is a thick rimmed, newly designed three-spoke Jeep steering wheel with audio, voice and speed controls.
The dash harks back to a simpler day when clarity was paramount. The round dials are clear with white on black design and a seven-inch full-colour reconfigurable instrument cluster that allows the driver to enjoy a customised user experience. The instrument cluster displays basic information at the driver’s fingertips but also allows them to add information they desire – similar to an Apple iPhone. The driver can select from a multitude of information features that can be displayed in the centre of the gauge cluster including turn-by-turn navigation, speed, real-time fuel economy, safety warnings, available Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus, audio information and Jeep-specific features including Selec-Terrain.
The centre stack bezel is inspired by the outline of the front grille of the 1940s Willys Jeep (which incidentally was the first car I ever drove) and continues the design language of its larger sibling, the Grand Cherokee. The 8.4-inch touchscreen multimedia command centre houses the navigation system and the Uconnect system that allows the driver to control the audio, climate controls, heated/ventilated seats and much more from the touchscreen, with additional controls located on the centre stack below the touchscreen or with voice commands. A premium Alpine 506-watt sound system is available with nine speakers and a subwoofer. The clever thing is that there is also a wireless charging system for the phone when in the cradle.
Storage is a key feature with a covered top bin located above the centre stack on top of the instrument panel and a huge glove box that accommodates an iPad. A small storage slot is located between the cup holders and the centre console armrest. The centre console hosts the integrated phone docking station, USB and SD ports and auxiliary-power source. The front-passenger seat in the Jeep Cherokee folds flat and offers hidden, in-seat storage by flipping up the passenger seat cushion. Front doors are able to accommodate maps and bottles. Second-row seats recline and move fore/aft 15 centimetres to increase legroom or storage room as needed. The class-exclusive Jeep Cargo Management System makes the most of the cargo space in the all-new Jeep Cherokee. A universal module rack is mounted on the side in the rear cargo area and provides for hooks and a removable grocery bag.
Safety features, that led to a five star ANCAP safety rating, include both active and passive safety security features, including ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist – a first for a Chrysler Group vehicle; Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus; Forward Collision Warning-Plus; LaneSense Departure Warning-Plus; All-speed Traction Control System (ATCS); Antilock brakes (ABS); Brake Traction-control System (BTCS); Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD); Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Brake-lock Differential System (BLDS). There is also electronic roll mitigation, Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection, ParkView rear backup camera with dynamic grid lines and dual frontal, side chest and side head airbags (curtains) and a driver knee airbag are standard.
Optional equipment and packages include: CommandView dual-pane panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, Technology Group, which includes Advanced Brake Assist, Lane Departure Warning Plus, Auto High Beam Control, Forward Collision Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Blind-spot Monitoring and Cross-path Detection, ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, Electronic Convenenice Group, which includes remote proximity entry and keyless Enter-N-Go, 230V auxiliary power outlet and wireless charging pad.
Driving the latest Jeep Cherokee Limited is the 2.0 litre Turbo Diesel 4 cyl engine, which produces 125kW of power and 350Nm of torque while consuming just 5.8 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres in the combined cycle. This engine delivers its power through an innovative 9 speed transmission. This class leading transmission is super smooth and strong enough for the harsh conditions it may find itself in AWD situations. This is one refined slick transmission. To be clear this combination is simply brilliant.
The standard 4WD system is the Jeep Active Drive11. The Selec-Terrain manages the 4WD system with a simple twist of the dial, to choose the on- and off-road setting for optimal performance. Up to five customised settings are offered: Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud and Rock. It’s easy to use and very effective coordinating the electronics depending on the selection.
While the Cherokee Limited diesel has the 4WD system you should think of it more as an exceptionally capable AWD SUV rather than a 4WD like the Trailhawk. On test we drove the Limited over a variety of surfaces, sand dunes, tar roads, loose gravel and some forest trails. The tracks provided an interesting rather than challenging experience. Throughout, we had the opportunity to try the various applications of Selec-Terrain and all proved competent. For the most part though we just left the Selec-Terrain in auto and drove. The Jeep Cherokee Limited, despite its Alfa underpinnings and SUV styling is great in this type of trail driving.
Once we were on the tar the driving experience was just as satisfying. The diesel engine allowed adequate power and the super smooth 9 speed transmission provides economy with a number of overdrive gears. The steering was a little light and there was a little tyre noise at speed but the Jeep Cherokee is probably the quietest car on road in its class. The quietness is extraordinary for the price range. There are better handling on road AWD SUV’s in the class but not by much and they generally cost much more.
Overall, the Jeep Cherokee Limited diesel is actually outstanding. There are few, if any, AWD SUV’s that are better off road and few that are better on road, none that are quieter and even with price increases it represents excellent value.