What is it?
‘Hmmm, not my cup of tea.’ I mumbled to myself as I walked round the 2015 Cherokee that had just been delivered to Muddy Towers. I mumbled a little louder, ‘It looks weird too.’
This, the 5th generation Cherokee, is the first under Chrysler's new owner, Fiat, and gone are the days of a boxy silhouette, instead, like many of todays other SUV's, comes a sleek new look. Look closely though and you'll notice the odd nod to its heritage; the angular seven-slot grille and its trapezoidal wheel arches for example.
On the road
The Cherokee has been criticised on other motoring websites for both its handling and noise, which has left me feeling a little perplexed as, during week together, I didn’t think it was all that bad. Granted, the 140ps engine isn’t the swiftest engine, but I found it quite refined on a day to day basis during short commutes.
On longer journeys the Cherokee's ride quite comfortable, it isn’t a sports car ride, but neither is it a 2CV. The electrically assisted steering was accurate and a little heavy, which I liked.
Off the road
If you opt for the 4x4 Cherokee you get the Active Drive 4-wheel drive set-up that features Jeep’s Selec-Terrain traction control system that consist of four driving modes - Auto, Snow, Sport and Sand/Mud. Like all modern 4x4’s, the system utilises witchcraft to electronically coordinate and optimises the car’s ABS, ESC and other such abbreviations to keep you going forward - and they work.
Off-road I couldn’t fault the Cherokee, only its lack of decent approach angle and ground clearance stopped me from really testing it. The Cherokee proved itself capable on wet, rocky terrain and wasn’t bothered at all if you balanced it on its 2 opposing wheels, you just have to be aware of scraping the front a bit. I was going to tell you that it's surprising agile, but its a Jeep, so of course it is.
The first thing I noticed when I got behind the steering, apart from how ergonomically pleasing everything was, was how comfy the seats are, long and wide enough for the big people amongst us, not once during a variety of jaunts did my back ache.
Although not the plushest of interiors, it does feel well built with soft touch materials on the dash and a good quality leather steering wheel, but oddly I found the stalks for the indicators and wipers to be a tad too short. Whilst I’m being negative, I found the stitching on top of the dash annoying as it reflected on the windscreen, but I’m being pedantic now.
You get a lot of storage space in the Cherokee with plenty of nooks and crannies for all your bits and bobs - it's a very practical family SUV in that respect.
Engines ‘n’ transmissions
The 2ltr Limited model comes with either 140ps or 170ps outputs and our test car, the 140ps, is only available with the 6-speed manual, so if you want the option of the 9-speed automatic gearbox, go for the 170ps, which I'd recommend anyway.
If you want your Cherokee with a bit more oomph, you could opt for the Trailhawk, that's got the 9-speed automatic and 3.2 V6 petrol.
In my circle of friends, I appear to be the only person who dislikes the look of the new Cherokee. When I first set eyes on it last year, I have to be honest and say, I wasn’t keen, and that may be an understatement. I am however fully aware that beauty is subjective, after all, my juices start to flow at the sight of a Land Rover Military Lightweight on a set of 31” mud terrains, or a 101 GS, so my opinion of what is a good looking 4x4 can, and should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Oddly, my overriding memory of the 2015 Cherokee wasn't its looks, but its windscreen washers - they are by far the best I’ve ever come across in any car - ever. Once activated you get a powerful fan shaped jet of water all across the base of the windscreen so there isn't any chance of bits of muck being missed, unlike the Range Rover I had the following week.
We covered just over 400 miles in the week and I have to say that I enjoyed driving the Cherokee more than I thought I would, It was comfy, practical, capable and frugal, though I still don't think it's pretty. Serious off roaders will want to fit larger, chunkier tyres and do something about the low approach angle... or just go for the Trailhawk version.
There’s now a more modern, Euro 6 compliant 2.2ltr MultiJet engine available for the Cherokee with either 185ps and 200ps output which offers a significant wider spread of torque, greater power with improved economy.