Jeep launched their new Cherokee earlier this year against the breathtaking backdrop of George and Knysna. We attended the launch and enjoyed the vehicle then, but launches generally last a day or two, not giving you enough time to truly experience the car – even if the presentations are short and the driving time is substantial. But we were fortunate enough to have the new Jeep on test to experience various situations.
So obviously with its new design, the Cherokee turns a few heads. Jeep deviated from their usual boxy design and took advantage of some confident curves and edgy accents. There were a few debates between myself, my co-workers, a few friends and family members. Some said that they like the new design. Others said that they didn’t like the rear, and that if they were going to buy the Cherokee for its looks, they’d rather go for a Kia Sportage which is more economical. As for me, I also wasn’t quite sure about its looks to begin with, but they grew on me.
It comes with a multitude of impressive features and technology, and stepping inside, it’s clear that Jeep focused plenty of attention on luxury and comfort. A multi-way seat supports the driver – plus it adjusts electronically, providing any sized driver with excellent lumbar support. Passengers may not have the same technology in their seats, but they still sit supremely comfortably. There is plenty of space in the backseat as well. My favourite part of the front seats is that they are heated.
The Cherokee’s interior makes any driver feel like they are engulfed in luxurious materials. From the soft plastics and decorative accents all the way to the intricate stitching on the dash board. The standard LED touchscreen is easy to use and fits in well with the modern, newly styled dash. It sits above a dual-zone air-conditioner which has been neatly placed above a Selec-Terrain button. More on the function of it later. In the middle console slot on the dash are an SD card slot, a single USB slot and AUX cable slot. The large centre armrest opens to reveal a large cubby-like space. It also has a USB slot and an extra car lighter slot. The soft leather wrapped steering wheel has a wealth of convenience keys which control the multi-info display, phone buttons and standard cruise control buttons. The speedometer and tachometer are digitally displayed on the multi-info display, as well as audio information, vehicle information, fuel economy and even tyre pressure.
With all of these features, it’s not difficult to be distracted from the drive – but because the drive is so smooth and dynamic, the whole experience leaves you satisfied. The 3.2-litre Pentastar V6 engine boasts 200kW and 315Nm of torque. It is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission which is absolutely seamless. To complement the dynamic nature of the Cherokee, the Selec-Terrain allows for four different modes, automatically giving the car the characteristics you need for that situation. They are pretty self-explanatory; Auto, Snow, Sport and Sand/Mud.
We even took it over some rough terrain and were impressed at how well it kept up. It is an absolute pleasure to drive, with very little to complain about except of course for the price tag. Firstly, it really drinks fuel like it’s a cool-drink on a hot day. Claimed fuel consumption is at 10l/100km and we achieved 11.7l/100km as our lowest. Starting price is at R505 990, but Jeep sugar coats it a bit with a comprehensive six year/100 000km maintenance plan. It competes against the likes of the Toyota Rav4, the Honda CRV, Ford Escape and Subaru Forester.