WE HAVE seen quite a few revisions made to Jeep’s mid-size Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) the Cherokee during the model’s 30-year history. Now there’s an all-new version with the very latest in gearbox and engine technology to add to its off-road repertoire.
The exterior is where you’ll notice the most dramatic change. The aim of the design was to create a car that still looks quintessentially ‘Jeep’ but also one that was efficient in terms of drag coefficient and in terms of approach and departure angles. Aerodynamic tweaks include a tuned body, a rear spoiler, integrated underbelly pans, integrated sill aero spats and tail lights that deflect air off the side of the vehicle’s body
The most noticeable thing about the new Jeep is its bonnet and front light design. The ‘waterfall’ bonnet and seven-slotted grille are signature design elements seen on older models but now have a unique modern twist. There are bi-Xenon and LED lights up front and LED units at the rear while the 17 or 18-inch wheels are complemented by the trapezoidal wheel arches.
Inside, one finds a trapezoidal plan view with a centre stack bezel that is inspired by the outline of the front grille of the 1940s Willys Jeep as seen in the new Grand Cherokee. The manufacturer claims there are soft-touch materials throughout the cabin with three assorted colour combinations available said to be inspired by different locations around the world.
Then there’s the option of the Wireless Charging Pad which is concealed in the upper tray of the central armrest. This enables wireless charging of any smart phone. To charge a device, occupants can place it where a mechanical docking station affords secure storage. Filling the gauge cluster in front of the driver is the TFT seven-inch full-colour, multi-view display featuring a reconfigurable function that enables the driver to receive information and vehicle feedback in the format they prefer. There’s the U-connect 8.4-inch infotainment screen with things like GPS, voice recognition functionality and additional entertainment features which are built into a single hardware platform.
There are various model designations: the lower end of range, Longitude variant which is only available as a 4x2 and features cloth seats; the Limited is available in both 4x2 and 4x4 and gets full leather; and the Trailhawk (a combination of the two) is only available as a 4x4.
The model designations also feature varying degrees of off-road ability. The 4x4 Limited variant gets the Active Drive I system featuring single Power Transfer Unit (PTU) which is fully automatic and delivers seamless operation in and out of four-wheel-drive at any speed. The four-wheel-drive performance results from a fully variable wet clutch housed in the rear-drive module. The Limited 4x4 also gets the brand’s Selec-Terrain traction control system with four modes (Auto, Snow, Sport and Sand/Mud). Selec-Terrain allows the driver to choose and select, by means of a dial, the on and off-road setting best suited for optimum performance on any particular surface. This is designed to optimize the four-wheel-drive systems for unsurpassed control and capability.
The Trailhawk 4x4 gets the same Selec-Terrain system but instead has five settings namely Rock ,Auto, Snow, Sport and Sand/Mud mode. The Trailhawk also gets the Jeep Active Drive Lock which features a two-speed PTU and a locking rear differential for superior low-speed power for rock crawling or severe off-road conditions.
All new Jeep Cherokees get a nine-speed automatic transmission as standard. The gearbox provides an extremely wide gear ratio range for optimized acceleration, reduced emissions and improved fuel efficiency. The new transmission features on-the-fly shift map changing, with manual shifting capability via Electronic Range Select.
There’s also a new choice of engines powering the range. The 3.2-litre Pentastar V6 is related to the familiar 3.6-litre version. Outputs for the unit are 200kW/315Nm which equates to a towing capacity of 2 200kg. The claimed fuel consumption is 10.0-litres/100km and CO2 emissions of 232g/km. The other new engine is the 2.4-litre Tigershark MultiAir engine which produces 130kW/229Nm and consumes 8.3 litres/100 km.
The Cherokee is made at the upgraded Jeep production facility in Toledo, Ohio USA and is based on the Compact U.S. Wide (CUS-wide) modular platform. The front suspension uses MacPherson struts and the rear is an independent multi-link suspension set-up.