2014 Jeep Cherokee first drive review

2014 Jeep Cherokee first drive review

Re-conceived Cherokee is more civilised crossover than usual tough-guy Jeep, with a rise in quality which places it firmly alongside the Audi Q5 and BMW X3

This is the all-new, fifth-generation Jeep Cherokee, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the often square-cut and traditional 4x4s that went before it.Instead it mixes Jeep styling motifs (a seven-vertical-slot grille, angular wheelarches) with fashionable design features such as no straight lines, concave surfaces and me-too trapezoidal tail-lights set on a slant.The short bonnet and long front overhang betray the fact that it’s derived from a transverse-engine, front-wheel drive platform with distant roots in Alfa Romeo’s Giulietta.It looks like a design student’s proposal for a properly futuristic Jeep with a fast windscreen rake, a pointed ridge across the front grille and slender DRLs where you’d expect the headlights to be. But you know such a student would have toughened-up the look. As has Jeep, for the top Trailhawk version of which just 20 will arrive in the UK, despite being the visual lodestone of the range.Why so few? Because as well as the full gamut of off-road, big wheel-articulation hardware denied to lesser Cherokees, it has a thirsty 3.2-litre petrol V6 which no-one will want to buy, despites its hunkier cladding, grey detailing and cutaway valances.So the real-world, clean-clothes Cherokees come with Fiat’s 2.0-litre Multijet II turbodiesel in 138 or 168bhp guises, matched to either a six-speed manual or a nine-speed ZF automatic gearbox.You can have front-wheel or four-wheel drive, the latter automatically disconnecting and reconnecting drive to the rear wheels as needed to improve economy, as a Range Rover Evoque now does. Trim levels are Longitude or plusher Limited, and both aspire to a ‘premiumness’ that would make them rivals to an Audi Q5 or BMW X3 at a lower price.

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