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It's impossible to talk about the new Jeep Cherokee without discussing its styling. So let's get it over with. Jeep says it wanted to make its latest mid-ranger distinctive - something it's undoubtedly achieved.
Is the Cherokee actually good looking, though? Some say yes, forcefully; others disagree strongly. Few are indifferent. It's divisive, then - which, surely, is better than bland.
Whatever you think of its exterior, though, the new Cherokee's a pleasant thing inside. True, it has its fair share of scratchy plastics, and as such it isn't quite up there with the European rivals Jeep says it's aiming for just yet. But the gap is far smaller than it once was, the nasty pale greys of the past having been replaced by more upmarket blacks. The seats are extremely comfortable, too, and visibility's another strong point.
With dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, DAB, a five-inch touchscreen, and rear parking sensors all as standard, the entry-level Longitude trim has all the kit most drivers will need. Paired with the cheapest diesel, a 2.0-litre 140hp unit that offers a broad and useful spread of torque, it feels like the best-value Cherokee. What's more, this model emits just 139g/km, giving it a BIK of 23% - just 1% more than the benchmark BMW X3 sDrive 18d - although fuel consumption's around 2mpg higher.
The Jeep is, however, significantly cheaper than the BMW, and it offers almost as much space for passengers. But the boot is a real let-down. Seats up, its 412-litre capacity's poor compared with the 550-litre X3 and 589-litre Honda CR-V, and things don't get any better with the seats down. And while those seats slide at the expense of rear legroom to extend the load bay to vaguely more acceptable proportions - 500 litres - doing so opens up a chasm between them and the high boot floor, into which smaller items can fall. There's better news on the move.
An impressively cosseting ride the majority of the time is only caught out by the sharpest jolts, as well as the occasional flounce over a longer undulation. Despite this softness, though, the body feels well-controlled through corners. It isn't especially exciting to hurl around, but the Cherokee nevertheless feels satisfyingly composed even when pushing on, and doesn't embarrass itself by comparison with its European rivals. That sums the car up pretty well, in fact.
While it isn't a game changer, it's a credible and worthy entrant to the SUV market. If you can live with the poor luggage capacity, the strong points of comfort, kit, decent CO2 and value are very appealing - especially if you happen to fall into the 'yes' camp on its look
Model price range
BIK 20/40% per month
Boot space (min/max)
Still a likeable and good-value SUV, flawed though it is