Jeep Cherokee (2014) Review

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We like: Excellent specification Build quality Ride and handling Gadgets galore Can go offroad 9-speed gearbox works well

We dislike: Radical styling Engine is quite thirsty

The latest Jeep Cherokee is visually quite far removed from anything in the Jeep family, but beauty is only skin deep. This Jeep Cherokee goes straight into a pretty competitive segment so it just has to deliver the goods, but does it?

When I first saw images of the newly-launched Jeep Cherokee on the Internet, my jaw dropped. That front end is so unlike anything the brand has done before and I found it repulsive. Fast forward a few months and I'm standing face to face with the new Jeep Cherokee. In the flesh, its not bad, but its still controversial. Controversy does work, the Nissan Juke is proof of that. Overall, its not a bad looking car, and while that face is going to raise a few eyebrows its the rear which more than makes up for it. The rear three-quarter angle is very pretty indeed.

Generous Specification

I was little worried when I first saw the pricing for the new Jeep Cherokee. This particular model is the 3.2-litre all-wheel drive Limited which retails for R563 990 with the range starting from R479 990. Your money does get you an awful lot of car though, and I was mightily impressed with the levels of standard specification on this Jeep Cherokee. There's a brilliant infotainment touchscreen unit which encompasses an intuitive satellite navigation system. There's two USB slots, SD card slot, Bluetooth, automatic dual zone climate control and there's even the option to fit a wireless charging pad for mobile devices.

The list doesn't stop there. How about heated seats, automatic tail gate, tyre pressure monitoring system as well as a full parking camera system? It also has the cool feature of being able to be started remotely by using the key. What this means is you can set the car to switch on its heated seats and heater first thing on a winter's morning before you get in, which is handy. Or, blow some cold air through the car before you climb in on a hot summer's day.

Engine and Performance

The new Jeep Cherokee offers commendable performance with 200 kW and 315 Nm from its 3.2-litre Pentastar V6. Mated to a 9-speed automatic gearbox, the vehicle proved to be smooth in operation, with very little hesitation from the gearbox. Fuel consumption is rated at 10L/100km and I was able to record 11L/100km during its week-long stay. This all-wheel drive version does exactly that and can hit the offroad stuff well. There's a tougher Trailhawk version which is even more capable, but that commands a premium of R 607 990. Despite lacking a locking diff and low-range gearbox, the Jeep Cherokee was still able to make light work of some sand dunes.

Comfort and Practicality

The Jeep Cherokee was comfortable and spacious, and during its week with Cars.co.za it was used to ferry visiting staff members from Johannesburg who happen to be surfers. The Jeep Cherokee easily swallowed boards and bags, but if you're going to be carrying large amount of kit, you'll find the boot space a little on the small size. No sweat, simply fold the back seats down and your storage space increases nicely. You can even fold the driver's seat completely flat to allow the transportation of longer items such as curtain rails.

One of my favourite things of the Jeep Cherokee has to be the practicality bins dotted around the cabin. There's one of these bins built into the passenger seat, meaning you can put your phone and house keys out of sight. There's also a nice big bin located on the top of the dashboard.

Verdict

Jeep needs this model to work. As great as the Grand Cherokee is, its price puts it out of reach of many fans of the brand, which is a shame. These fans would then turn to the next product in the line up, which is the Cherokee and it's an impressive product. The styling may not be to everyone's taste, but you cannot deny the quality and practicality aspects of this SUV. It was a pleasant surprise driving the Jeep Cherokee and it gets a good rating from me, despite it having a slow puncture which required a tyre change towards the end of the week.

Second Opinion

I really liked the space inside, and I definitely thought it superior to the cheaper SUVs I have driven such as the Subaru XV and Mitsubishi Outlander. It's also very comfortable to drive. However, I didn't like the infotainment system. The Jeep Cherokee also makes for a fine surfer's car as the key can be disassembled, meaning you can take the metal key into the water and not have to worry about damaging the electronics.-Ross McIlroy 

I, on the other hand, enjoyed the entertainment interface and I thought it was really easy to use the Bluetooth and maps. I initially couldn't find the button to open and close the boot, but once I did it worked nicely. The remote starting ability from the key is a bit silly and I didn't really see the point.-Alastair MacMurray

Also consider: Subaru Forester BMW X3 Land Rover Freelander 

You can see the head-to-head comparison between the Subaru Forester, BMW X3 and Jeep Cherokee here. The Freelander is now only available on the pre-owned market.

Jeep Cherokee 3.2 4x4 Limited quick specs

Price  R563 990
Engine  3.2-litre six-cylinder petrol
Power  200 kW
Torque  315 Nm
Transmission  9-speed automatic
Wheels  18-inch alloys
0-100km/h  8.1 seconds (claimed)
Fuel economy  10L/100 km (claimed)

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