Jeep Cherokee 2.8 CRD Limited

September 2008

picture of car from the front

Seven bar grille is a Jeep trademark feature

Ratings

Overall Rating 6Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 5Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 8Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 7Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 7Car safety


Likes

  • Chunky looks are appealing
  • Excellent standard specification
  • Off-road ability remains excellent
  • Cabin space makes the most of exterior dimensions

Gripes

  • Cabin quality does not reach high standards of some rivals
  • On-road performance is merely adequate
  • Driving position hard to get right
  • Running costs likely to be high

Arguably the brand most associated with four-wheel drive vehicles, Jeep has an image that is sought after on both sides of the Atlantic. A crucial element of this success is down to the Cherokee, which was one of the first cars intended to combine on and off-road ability to good effect. Now both the Jeep range and its rivals have expanded dramatically, making 'soft' roaders commonplace, but the all-new Cherokee aims to claw back lost ground.

The most obvious difference between the new Cherokee and the old model is the change in the exterior appearance. Where the old car adopted a more organic, curvy look, the new Cherokee reverts to the squared-off look that has become strongly associated with the Jeep brand. That said, it is clearly a modern design, with clean and attractive styling that will be a hit with 4x4 fans.

Underneath the body lies a raft of new components, starting with a new suspension layout designed for improved on road comfort and control but without sacrificing off-road ability. In addition, the four-wheel drive system is new, offering three modes including an 'on-demand' mode that runs in two-wheel drive until extra grip is required, thereby maximising efficiency and improving economy. Hill descent and hill start systems are also included and the driver can select the drive mode as conditions demand.

Inside, Jeep are aiming to push the Cherokee up against more premium feel rivals and, as such, it is available in a single model with a comprehensive standard equipment list. The Limited model comes with leather seats, electrically operated and heated in the front, tyre pressure monitoring, climate and cruise control and 18-inch alloy wheels all as standard. The few options include a clever full length sunroof and a high spec audio and navigation system.

With just one model to choose from, the engine range is limited to an updated version of the 2.8-litre diesel unit seen elsewhere in the Jeep range. Mated to a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox, it offers the strong torque demanded by buyers wanted to off-road or tow heavy items as well as making for easier everyday driving.

Our verdict on the Jeep Cherokee 2.8 CRD Limited

By focusing on refinement and luxury, the Cherokee now squares up to some of the best small 4x4s on the market. The usual Jeep value for money is much in evidence and its off-road ability remains unspoilt by a change of focus. However, its on-road performance is not the best in class and, while buyers will not be disappointed by the improvements, there are rivals which offer a better mix of on and off-road ability.

Costs
Costs rating 5

Running costs for the Cherokee may prove to be relatively high. Despite diesel power it is less economical than rivals and the automatic version has higher emissions, tipping it into a higher tax bracket, too.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 8

Unsurprisingly, the Cherokee makes good use of its size, offering decent room front and rear plus a large boot. Passengers may feel a little hemmed in due to the high waistline but the optional full-length Sky Slider sunroof helps to increase the amount of light in the cabin. There are plenty of storage areas throughout, helping to make maximum use of the space.

picture of car from the rear

Split tailgate makes for easy loading

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 7

The American origins of the Cherokee show through in the cabin layout, with blue digital displays and slightly unusual column stalks. The main controls are located in a neat centre console and it is easy to find the required button. The instruments are also attractive and informative, making the Cherokee easy to operate.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 7

The Cherokee does well to suppress engine and road noise at cruising speeds, with only some wind noise creeping in at higher speeds. The ride is also biased for comfort, with only larger bumps registering with the occupants. The seats are a little lacking in support, however, and the driving position is a little compromised by the pedal positioning in the automatic version.

Car security
Security Rating 7

All Cherokee models come with an approved alarm and immobiliser system as standard, which should prove more than sufficient for warding off thieves.

Car safety
Safety Rating 7

Packed with safety equipment, the Cherokee has ESP, tyre pressure monitoring, hill descent control and hill start as standard on the automatic version, with a multitude of airbags, too.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 6

The Cherokee is relatively undemanding to drive, particularly in automatic form, with strong torque allowing for a relaxed driving style. Despite the high output, brisk acceleration is a little lacking and treading the accelerator brings increased noise from the engine bay. Take the Cherokee off-road and it displays its true qualities, taking difficult terrain in its stride and proving its legendary status is still intact.

picture of car interior

Interior is well specified

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 7

The Cherokee has the size and practicality to suit family duties, especially with the high seating position and optional high specification audio system. The easy-folding seats are a useful feature too, and taking the whole family off-road would probably make for a fun day out.

First car appeal
First car Rating 4

Being a little too large and expensive to appeal to a new driver, the Cherokee is not for the inexperienced and its off-road ability is unlikely to be needed by someone new to motoring.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 7

Jeep is pitching the Cherokee at premium rivals, but in terms of quality it falls a little behind. The exterior looks well finished, as does the interior at first glance, but a closer inspection reveals some evidence of penny pinching. The Jeep's image is very strong, however, and is seen as a 4x4 for true enthusiasts - something which the Cherokee plays upon.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

With large doors front and rear, climbing aboard the Cherokee is relatively easy, although very small adults and children may find the seats a little high. The boot is also easy to gain access to, especially with a handy split tailgate system.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The standard fit audio system is a single CD/tuner with MP3 compatibility, but the optional audio and navigation package brings a high quality sound with useful hard drive storage and Bluetooth connection.

picture of car in detail

Four-wheel drive system is operated by a simple switch

Colours and trim

The Cherokee works best when in brighter metallic shades, but inside the light colour of leather helps to increase the feeling of space. Despite the use of leather as standard, some of the cabin feels less than premium in quality.

Parking

Despite its size, the Cherokee is relatively easy to park thanks to the chunky exterior making it easy to judge distances. Parking sensors are also fitted as standard, which is a useful extra feature.

Spare wheel

Full size spare wheel mounted underneath the boot floor.

 

Range information

Diesel engine options - 2.8-litre (174bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox, five-speed automatic gearbox. Trim level: Limited.

 

Alternative cars

Land Rover Freelander Pricey, but composed, good to drive and capable off-road

Nissan X-Trail Questionable looks, but well equipped

BMW X3 Not cheap to buy, feels good inside and out, far better on-road

Honda CR-V Unusual styling hides competent and quiet all-rounder



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September 2008