Jeep Cherokee revealed in New York
Unveiled at today's New York motor show, the Jeep Cherokee gets the same distinctive front-end styling as its larger brother, the Grand Cherokee. That means an exaggerated, wide grille design, extremely slim headlights and complex surfacing along each side.
The new model is 4624mm long; that's around 10cm longer than the latest Land Rover Freelander. The Jeep is also wider and taller than Land Rover's SUV.
Jeep's Cherokee sits on chassis parts developed between US engineers at Jeep and Chrysler, and technicians from parent company Fiat. The car will carry Jeep's 'trail-rated' branding, though, reflecting a four-wheel-drive system that's offered in three levels of capability.
The most basic set-up, Jeep Active Drive I, is primarily designed for poor road conditions; it can dip in and out of four-wheel drive as needed. The second, Jeep Active Drive II, offers a low-ratio option which, Jeep claims, 'improves climbing ability' and performance in poorer off-road conditions.
A final spec, Jeep Active Drive Lock, offers the same system as Jeep Active Drive II but adds a locking rear differential to assist with deep mud or rock crawling. All of the systems are linked to Jeep's Selec-Terrain system, which allows the driver to optimise the set-up for the conditions; it can operate in automatic mode, plus 'Sport', 'Snow', 'Mud/Sand' and, on cars equipped with Jeep Active Drive Lock, 'Rock'.
Initial models will be powered by a choice of two petrol engines – a 2.4-litre four-cylinder unit, or a 3.2-litre V6 motor – mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. However, Fiat's Multijet diesel engines are said to be compatible with the new chassis and at least one of these will be adapted for European sales.
Inside, the new car's fascia includes either a 3.5in black-and-white or 7-inch colour TFT screen in the instrument panel; Jeep says the display's layout is configurable, allowing the driver to personalise the look to their own preference. There's also a 5-inch touch-screen in the centre of the dashboard – but an 8.4-inch version will be available as an option.
Safety equipment includes auto parking (either parallel park or reversing into a regular perpendicular space), adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and blind-spot monitoring.
The Cherokee will form part of an expanding Jeep line-up in the UK. Later next year the firm will also launch a baby SUV as a sister vehicle to the Fiat 500X – although as Jeep boss Mike Manley revealed to What Car? recently, the US brand will keep the more hardcore off-road capability to itself on the small model.
By John McIlroy