$28,000 – $37,000
Good: The macho ‘don’t mess with me’ design is backed up by the genuine off-road ability PLUS you get a usable interior with clever storage functionality and a decent handling Large SUV on and off the road…
Not so Good: The V6 Petrol lacks low-down torque and is thirsty. In this age of refined SUV’s the Cherokee feels a little like a truck and is just a tad ‘agriculture’. If you only drive your Cherokee on the bitumen, you’re not doing it justice.
Design and Engineering
Good : The current shape Cherokee arrived to our shores early in 2008 with a chiselled, more masculine styling than the previous model. The Cherokee is also better packaged than before, with improvements to 2nd row and cargo space clearly evident.
The Cherokee features a ‘car-based’ monocoque platform (becoming more common) which is then modified enough to ensure it can still handle the rough stuff whilst being reasonable on the flat stuff…
Not so good : The strengthened chassis helps off-road; however the added weight results in on-road manners that are less polished than a number of other SUV’s (have a think about what you would prefer: off-road or on-road performance? What are you willing to sacrifice? You may need to consider these things at some stage).
Interior and Styling
Good : Decent levels of space onboard for the driver & four passengers, rear seat space has improved over the previous model and thanks to the rather ‘upright’ rear bench, legroom shouldn’t be a problem for most. The second row seats fold down flat; the rear cargo space is decently sized and features a reversible plastic floor tray (which comes in handy when returning from the beach or garden centre). The spare tyre is now mounted under the rear floor, so the rear door is now an easier-to-use vertical opening hatch than the previous side-opening tailgate.
Not so good : The Cherokee interior doesn’t feel ‘premium’ enough; excessive use of plastics that still look & feel a step behind the best. The steering wheel adjusts for tilt (up and down) but not reach (in and out), making it that touch harder to get yourself into your favourite driving position…
Good : The 2.8L Turbo Diesel engine produces a maximum 460Nm of torque when paired with the five-speed automatic transmission – impressive figures for a four-cylinder engine. The engine feels muscular and yet is relatively frugal with fuel (considering the vehicle’s weight).
Not so good : 151kW and 314Nm of torque simply isn’t class-leading for a modern Petrol V6 engine – compare it to Toyota’s V6 Kluger, this V6 feels at least one generation behind the best… It’s not quick and combined with the poor real-world fuel consumption – we’d rather drive the Turbo Diesel.
Ride and Handling
Good : When driven smoothly the Cherokee is a composed handler on the tarmac (especially considering it ain’t no featherweight at almost two-tonnes). The Cherokee is also a very capable off-roader; the high ride height and short front and rear overhangs mean it won’t get stuck in tight situations…
Not so good : The steering isn’t amazing – there’s only a little feedback of what’s happening between the tyres and the road filtering through to the driver’s hands. The Cherokee’s body weight does sit high, so it feels a little like a wallowing beast when pushed too hard on the tarmac.
Buying and Owning
Good : Good levels of standard equipment. It gets the safety ‘tick’ by coming standard with ABS, traction control, electronic stability control and a decent number of airbags…
Not so good : Some of the Japanese brand SUV’s have a much higher quality feel to the fit & finish of the interior plastics used.