Jeep Cherokee 2.2 MultiJet 200hp 4WD 9SPD Auto Overland review
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Keyless entry and start, 18in alloys, leather upholstery, premium sound system, automatic tailgate, panoramic sunroof, sat-nav and reversing camera
The Jeep Cherokee hasn't had an easy job on its hands since making a comeback in 2014. Staying true to its off-road heritage, the SUV has often found itself sidelined in favour of more popular and fashionable crossovers that lean closer to car-like road manners rather than rugged off-road driving characteristics.
And as we all know, competition in this sector is fierce. Being priced closer to the Audi Q5 and Volkswagen Tiguan, the Cherokee needs to pull a couple of tricks out of the bag if it wants to become the SUV of choice here in the UK.
Punchy diesel engine
Although this latest Cherokee was launched three years ago, the 2.2-litre diesel under the bonnet of our test car didn't join the range until much later.
Available only with Jeep's nine-speed automatic gearbox and matched to the Active-Drive four-wheel-drive system, the four-cylinder engine offers 200hp and 440Nm of torque ? which results in plenty of power on the road ? and can complete the 0-62mph benchmark sprint in 8.5 seconds, not bad when you consider the cars kerb weight is 1,878kg.
The Jeep Cherokee has always been one of the best when it comes to off-road performance and this latest car is no exception. We didn't get a chance to test it off-road on this occasion but have done so previously and came away impressed with its all-round ability - in fact we think only the Land Rover Freelander betters the Cherokee in this sector.
That extra performance and off-road ability does come at the expense of running costs though. Our test car emits 150g/km of CO2 and has an official combined fuel economy of 49.6mpg. The engine can be quite noisy at times too, especially if the throttle is pushed, and the nine-speed auto can be a little delayed, making gear changes a little jerky at times.
Thanks to the four-wheel drive, there's loads of grip available and although there's a fair amount of body roll in the corners, the Cherokee is more agile at speed than you'd think. Once on the motorway, the car is surprisingly comfortable at cruising speeds, although the amount of wind and road noise entering the cabin was more than we'd like.
Generous levels of kit
As well as the arrival of the new engine, a new top-of-the range Overland trim was also added to the range in the middle of last year.
Overland versions come packed full of equipment including 18in alloys, leather upholstery, a new steering wheel with wood insert, heated seats, premium sound system, automatic tailgate, panoramic sunroof, sat-nav, parking sensors and a reversing camera, to name but a few.
That's a lot of kit for the £40k P11D price and the panoramic sunroof and premium sound system with nine speakers and subwoofer are features definitely worthy of praise and not often seen as part of a standard specification.
However, the upgraded 8.4in touchscreen is a little clunky to use and feels old fashioned compared with its rivals, and the absence of Apple CarPlay and other modern connectivity systems is a downside.
Also included on our test car was the £1,600 Technology Group, which includes loads of advanced safety kit that is definitely worth considering like blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, collision warning and parking assist.
Inside, the Cherokee offers loads of interior space with plenty of head and legroom; the boot is big too at 591 litres, although it still lags behind some of its competitors.
It's not the plushest or most modern of cabins but the materials feel built to last and the large leather seats on our test car were very comfortable.
It's a little rough around the edges and the running costs are not quite up to scratch, but the Cherokee has bags of character and some genuine off-road ability, which make it a worthy, albeit niche, addition to the SUV sector.
There are two big problems though; one is where the car sits in the range. The Grand Cherokee appeals most to those who need off-road capabilities and with the new Compass tackling Qashqai territory, the Cherokee is harder to place in terms of who will buy it, which may limit its future appeal.
The second issue is tax. At £210 a month for a 20% payer, this car is simply too expensive to compete - especially when you consider that many if not all versions of the stylish Audi Q5 will cost you less.
Jeep Cherokee 2.2 MultiJet 200hp 4WD 9SPD Auto Overland
P11D Price: £40,630
On sale: April 2014
Residual value: 25.7%
Service, maintenance & repair: £3,048
Cost per mile: 94.3p
Fuel consumption: 50.4mpg
CO2 (BIK Band): 149g/km (31%)
BIK 20/40% per month: £210/£420
Boot space: 591 litres
Engine size/power: 2184cc/200hp
We test Jeep's mid-range SUV with a new(ish) diesel engine and trim level to see if this combination is enough to relight the Cherokee flame here in the UK