The 4×4 market has always been a tricky nut to crack, and in the modern world of increasing environmental awareness and high taxation on gas-guzzling machines, it’s becoming ever harder. The appeal for Jeep’s newer models, though, is increasing just as quickly, and the latest Cherokee is no different.
Although over here we tend to see 4x4s and Jeeps as relatively recent introductions in motoring terms, the first Cherokee was produced in 1974, and the evolution of style and design from that very first model can be seen in Jeep’s latest offering, 40 years later, in a way which no other car can boast. The DNA is there for all to see. Even with the recent changes in ownership at Jeep, the new Cherokee has kept to its roots whilst still managing to introduce some of its new Italian DNA into the mix.
The fact that Jeep are now under the ownership of Fiat becomes immediately apparent when looking at the exterior styling of the new Cherokee. The angled headlamps and stern, meaningful front-end are reminiscent of Fiat’s old Brava/Bravo range, and that’s not a bad thing looks-wise. It was a car which defined its era, and the new Cherokee seems likely to do the same. The interior, too, is improved, something which has become notable since Fiat’s takeover, with the option of a touchscreen dashboard and a colour-display instrument cluster for those who like such things. Leather seats are an option, too, on some of the more advanced models, bringing a touch of luxury to the Cherokee range.
Engine-wise, there’s a nice selection of choices. Over here, it’s likely that the 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel will be the most popular model (and it’s Fiat’s Multijet II turbodiesel, at that), balancing power with fuel economy. There is a 168bhp model available, though, with a nine-speed auto box as standard, as opposed to the six-speed manual in the 138bhp version. For those who want something even punchier, the V6 petrol Trailhawk model will tick all the boxes, including a slightly modified bodykit and a number of additional features inside the cabin.
It’s not just die-hard Jeep fans who are likely to be enticed by the new Cherokee, though. With the 138bhp model managing 53.3mpg and emitting just 137g/km of CO2, it’s likely to appeal to environmentalists who need the extra space inside. With a five-star Euro NCAP rating and a 92 per-cent score for adult occupation protection in the same test, it’s also one of the safest cars on the road. The drive, as you might imagine, has a number of different options regarding front-wheel or four-wheel drive modes as well as different terrain settings and drive locks, making the driving experience fully customisable depending on your own particular requirements.
The bottom line in terms of price is £25,500 for a front-wheel-drive 138bhp manual Longitude model, with the automatic Limited model with a four-wheel-drive box and a 168bhp engine setting you back £35,000. As with any new car, there are a number of customisation options and choices in between those two prices. The V6 Trailhawk, however, is likely to set you back around £38,000 but will only be available in very limited numbers, making it unlikely to be an option for most of us. The two main diesel models, though, appear on the surface to have appeals for both the die-hard Jeep fans and the modern-day driver, combining ruggedness and economy in one big, mean-looking package.