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Jeep Cherokee: A Step Backwards?

Before 2014, there wasn’t much to say about Jeep models for a few years. Its parent company Chrysler ran into some serious trouble in 2009, and from then the model was pulled for several years. In 2015, a fifth-generation model was released which broke the Jeep mould in a lot of ways. With Chrysler being taken over by Fiat, this model has distinct Italian engineering. This shift made for an altogether different experience.

Jeep cherokee (1)

If there’s one 4×4 family which has always been seen as the “traditional” one, it’s Jeep. Looking at the Cherokee though, you wouldn’t have thought it at all! The older Jeep models were boxy and a little coarse. The Cherokee, however, has brought the brand gracefully into the modern day with a sleeker and more aerodynamic outer design. Although the look of the Cherokee is obviously distinct, there are a few winks at earlier design features. It comes with trapezoidal wheel arches, along with Jeep’s signature seven-slot grill. Aside from this though, the design is much more geared towards the modern driver. The interior, too is also a big step away from Jeep’s template models. If it weren’t for the badge, you’d be confused as to the make of car you’re sitting in! Although an improvement from older Cherokees, there isn’t much to get excited about. The soft surfaces aren’t that soft, and the surfaces you don’t care about appear shiny and dazzling. When you’re getting it from an authorised dealer like Pentagon-Group, you may have the option for a nine-speaker audio system. Satnav can also be an option.

Handling?

So how does the Cherokee handle? The great leaps in design are unfortunately a little misleading. Compared to some of its rival models, the Cherokee drives a little too choppily for most people’s liking. You also notice a distinct lack of control in the body movements of the car. This is barely even present most of the time, but when you take it out on rural, winding roads, you may find it pretty irritating. You can see that although Jeep is gearing this model more towards the average driver, the newer Cherokee handles more like a traditional 4×4. One added feature is the electrically assisted steering. It’s accurate, but a lot of drivers who aren’t used to it may find adapting a real hassle. Also, due to the sheer size of the thing, it doesn’t give you a much better idea as to what the wheels are doing! Aside from these gimmicks making your experience a little clunky, it does its job as a 4×4 crossover. Using it on the road takes a delicate touch, but off-roading is a lot easier to handle. The torque on the newer Cherokee is a little disappointing, but will get you across most terrain.Jeep cherokee (4)

If you look at the usual asking prices, you’ll find that the Cherokee is fairly expensive in terms of non-premium compact crossovers. The standard kits they offer are pretty generous. Still, you might decide that the overall experience isn’t worth the money. As you probably know, 4x4s are never brilliant for depreciation. Still, the later Cherokee models are really shocking. It’s been shown that after just three years, the Cherokee will only retain about 30% of its original value. This is extremely alarming when you stack it against the depreciation of its competitors. As if that wasn’t enough, the insurance rates for the Cherokee are in a much higher band than its rivals. The one financial area this model does okay in is CO2 emissions. These are competitive given the market, but you could get far better ones from a model which is easier to drive. The fuel economy for the Cherokee isn’t impressive, but it’s not terrible either. The MPG is around 40 in a standard touring test. This is perfectly acceptable, but I won’t lie to you by saying it’s the best you can get from a 4×4. We’ve seen that the Cherokee isn’t great for your wallet. However, there are certain choices you can make to ease the financial burden somewhat. I recommend the 168bhp engine, and the nine-speed auto box.

Summary

To wrap it all up, the Cherokee serves its purpose, but there are better 4x4s out there. If you’ve had a lot of experience with Jeep’s older models, this might sound like sacrilege! It’s true that Jeeps from the noughties and further back were extremely functional. They could take you places which other 4x4s simply couldn’t. However, the whole niche has come a long way since then. While there’s nothing in particular wrong with the Cherokee, it’s failed to keep up with the innovations of its rivals.

Image source: AutoBlog

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