The all-new Jeep Cherokee, positioned as the mid-size SUV of the Jeep brand, takes its premier bow at this year’s Geneva Motor Show powered by the efficient 2.0-litre MultiJet II turbo diesel engine in combination with the new nine-speed automatic transmission – the first SUV to feature this!
And the “Go anywhere, do anything” attitude of Jeep is certainly exemplified by this giant of a car (figuratively speaking) that now sports a new exterior and interior design, a new front-wheel drive configuration and two innovative four-wheel drive systems, a new, efficient 2.0-litre MultiJet II turbo diesel with fuel-saving Stop/Start technology , new technological features including a full-colour 7” reconfigurable TFT (thin film transistor) instrument cluster and Uconnect with 8.4” colour touchscreen, 65% high-resistance steel body structure and more than 70 safety and security systems including Rollover Mitigation (ERM), ABS with off-road calibration, Forward Collision Warning-Plus system, Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus, Lane Departure Warning-Plus, Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection, and a ‘Best in class’ safety award from Euro NCAP who awarded it 5 stars and the title of safest SUV in its category.
Here in the UK we will have to wait until around May time to get to see the Jeep Cherokee with its “new sleek and athletic design, enhanced on-road driving dynamics and handling, legendary Jeep 4x4 capability, premium interior craftsmanship, innovative technology, new levels of efficiency, entertainment and comfort and ‘five-star’ safety and security features” but it looks like it will be worth the wait if a Jeep is your bag.
As you would expect, the Jeep Cherokee will be at home on any and all terrains, and will be available in both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive with a choice of two new, sophisticated Jeep four-wheel-drive systems.
And that’s not all. The new Jeep Cherokee is also the first in its class that features the ability to switch between four and two-wheel drive seamlessly with reduced energy loss courtesy of what is called ‘rear-axle disconnect’- and all automatically as the car detects when the capability of 4 x 4 isn’t needed, an action that improves fuel efficiency.
Let’s look at the new Jeep Cherokee in a bit more detail
It must have been hard for the designers to move on a brand that is so deeply ingrained in the motoring world’s psyche whilst keeping true to tradition and Jeep DNA, but by the looks of the sleek and athletic exterior lines of the new Jeep Cherokee, they have managed to age a Jeep gracefully without losing its mojo.
It looks powerful and it holds a commanding presence on the road, the 'waterfall' bonnet with the iconic peaked, seven-slotted grille telling all and sundry that it is a Jeep, a fact emphasised by the signature Jeep trapezoidal wheel arches. Available in three trim styles - Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk (not available in the UK at launch) - the car rides on 17” (Longitude) or 18” tyres with lighting supplied by LED technology throughout.
And finally, the Jeep Cherokee has a CommandView dual-pane power sunroof that is available as an option on all trim levels that extends all along the roof from windscreen to rear, offering open-top driving in all but name.
Signature Jeep styling cues, high-quality materials, precision craftsmanship and attention to detail are what you would expect in the Jeep Cherokee- and it doesn’t disappoint with the ultimate comfort combined with useful, easy-to-operate technology and clever storage.
While the interior is up to date with materials and technology, the inspiration came from the brand’s heritage, taking tips and styling from classic Jeeps such as the 1940s Willys Jeep while at the same time offering more than just a passing nod to its big brother, the Grand Cherokee.
All cabin interior trim that is soft to the touch and is available with three interior trim choices inspired from exotic locations and landscapes around the world, such as Morocco, Grand Canyon and the Italian Mount Vesuvio.
Seating has been designed to fit the frame and contours of the body, are trimmed with quality materials (premium cloth in the Longitude and quality Nappa leather in both the Limited and Trailhawk) and can make use of an optional ‘memory’ adjustable mechanism and heated/ventilated features for the front seats.
There are of course other options such as a heated steering wheel and wireless charging pad, but it is also a bonus to see just how functional the Jeep Cherokee is with a plethora of thoughtful, clever storage features that includes a refined, covered, top storage tray located above the centre stack on top of the instrument panel for secured storage of small items.
As we said, the new Jeep Cherokee is the first mid-size SUV to feature a standard nine-speed automatic transmission, and this is equipped on the 170 horsepower 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine and on the petrol models of the new Cherokee range.
Why nine-speed? Simple! Because Jeep believe in their “Go anywhere, do anything” philosophy, the new nine-speed automatic gearbox ensures that gear shifts are exceptionally smooth, with an extremely wide gear ratio range for optimised acceleration, reduced emissions and improved fuel efficiency; not to mention aggressive launches and smooth power delivery at highway speeds.
There are more than 40 individual shift maps so that whatever the condition, the Jeep Cherokee can react and adapt, while at the same time ensuring that fuel economy is kept at a maximum, as is performance and drivability.
THE ENGINE RANGE
The new Jeep Cherokee is powered by the new, efficient 2.0-litre turbo, direct-injection I-4 common rail diesel engine fitted with MultiJet II with Stop/Start technology. It produces a maximum of 170 horsepower at 3,750 rpm and torque of 350 Nm at 1,500 rpm, but there is also a low-output version on offer that produces 140 horsepower at 3,750 rpm and 350 Nm of torque across 1,500 rpm (This is combined with a state-of-the-art manual six-speed gearbox instead of the nine-speed automatic.)
No doubt you will know all about the “Stop/Start” technology that improves fuel efficiency and reduces CO2 emissions, and it is only a surprise that the Jeep Cherokee is only the 2nd Jeep to feature the system that can be deactivated if so required via a button on the dashboard.
You already know that the Jeep Cherokee got a ‘best in class’ designation from Euro NCAP in the Small Off-road 4X4 category for the year 2013 ahead of 33 other cars, and it is no surprise when you see how the safety requirements in adult, child, pedestrian protection and safety assist tests were achieved with the technology available..
First up on the safety list is the “Compact U.S. Wide (CUS-wide)” architecture of the Jeep Cherokee that is built with 65% steel, making the structure a bit more than solid, before the Jeep engineers added more than 70 active and passive safety and security features, including an array of innovative systems.
As standard safety doesn’t really get much safer than seven standard airbags (front seats multistage air bags, side bags, window bags, driver side knee air bag), ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with rollover mitigation (ERM) and ABS with off-road calibration - and that’s before the new safety systems are added, the majority of which are self-descriptive in their functions: Forward Collision Warning-Plus, ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus, Lane Departure Warning-Plus, Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection.
It’s not just Euro NCAP that has praised the Jeep Cherokee in its safety systems; last year in the U.S., the car achieved the highest-possible score in each of four Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) tests to determine a Top Safety Pick, a test that included simulations of side impact with a large SUV or pickup truck, front moderate overlap impact, roof-crush consistent with a rollover, and a rear collision capable of inducing whiplash. In each of these, the Jeep Cherokee passed with flying colours – or colors as they say in the U.S.
The new Jeep Cherokee is certainly one to be looked at when it arrives if you are looking for a mid-style SUV. Jeep would certainly suggest that you do.
But in the meantime it is Geneva-bound for further scrutiny.