The Jeep Cherokee effectively sits in a class of its own. It’s built to rival models like the Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Tiguan, yet on price it actually competes with cars like the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. As a standalone product the Jeep is fine, but it’s difficult to recommend against such strong challengers.
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The 2.2-litre diesel engine is an eager performer, especially when fited with the smooth-shifting 9-speed auto, while the clever 4×4 system means you can have genuine off-road ability that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice good fuel economy. Avoid the top-spec models, though, as they’re rather pricey and Limited trim has all the goodies any buyer could possibly need.
The Jeep Cherokee established itself in the 1990s, when the XJ model was first for sale in right-hand-drive form. That version of the Cherokee has gone on to become a cult classic, but the current Cherokee is a far cry from its predecessor. While it used to be a model that delivered rugged appeal with a smattering of luxury further up the range, the current fifth-generation Cherokee is more like a crossover.
However, it’s a pretty expensive one, with prices that place it alongside premium models such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Audi Q3 and Jaguar F-Pace. However, the Jeep can’t match these cars for quality, and it’s more of a rival for top-spec versions of cars like the Mazda CX-5, Ford Edge and Volkswagen Tiguan.
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One thing that helps the Cherokee to stand out is its looks. With its stylised seven-slot grille, slender headlamps and additional air intakes, the front end of the Cherokee certainly was controversial when it arrived in 2014. However, an update for 2019 has brought in larger headlights similar in style to the Grand Cherokee and tidied up the front end considerably. The rear was also modified, with the number plate relocated from the bumper to the tailgate and new rear lights added, although the end result is a rather generic look from the back.
Under the skin, the Cherokee is based on a platform that can trace its roots to the Alfa Romeo Giulia, a result of the two companies being part of the FCA Group of Fiat and Chrysler brands. You might think that these Italian roots would inject a bit of dynamism to the way the Cherokee drives, but it doesn’t. The Jeep is a relaxing car to drive, but it doesn’t have the dynamic edge that some of its rivals offer.
Power comes from a single 2.2-litre diesel in two power outputs – there’s no more V6 petrol available. The Multijet diesel comes in 148bhp and 192bhp forms, with the latter model coming with Jeep’s smooth shifting nine-speed auto. This model is also four-wheel drive, but features Jeep’s trick rear axle disconnect system that automatically operates in 2WD mode when the 4×4 system isn’t needed. Also included is Selec-Terrain, which sets up the transmission and throttle response to suit different conditions, while Active Drive I and II offer improved off-road ability. If you don’t need 4WD, there is a front-wheel-drive model offered, too.