2014 Jeep Cherokee review
This is our first go in the new Jeep Cherokee here on UK roads, so it's also our best chance to see if it has what it takes to measure up to rivals like the BMW X3 on British soil...
It's available in three trim levels, with a choice of 2.0-litre diesel engines. The 138bhp version comes with a six-speed manual gearbox and the choice of front- or four-wheel-drive, while the 168bhp model is four-wheel drive and has a nine-speed automatic gearbox as standard.
Jeep predicts that the high-powered model will be the biggest seller in the UK, but it’s also hoping that the Cherokee will have an impact on company buyers thanks to CO2 figures ranging from 139g/km to 154g/km; these are hardly Mazda CX-5 levels of frugality, but are decent all the same.
A 3.2-litre petrol V6 Trailhawk model, complete with more hardcore off-roading ability, will be available to special order by the end of the year, rounding off the line-up.
What is the 2014 Jeep Cherokee like to drive?
It’s not fast; even with the 168bhp engine it feels as if you have to work fairly hard to make good progress, something you wouldn't have to endure in sportier rival SUVs such as the BMW X3.
Still, when you’re right in the middle of the rev-range there’s just enough oomph to make the Cherokee feel punchy and relaxing to drive, regardless of which power output you’ve chosen.
It's worth going for the automatic if your budget can stretch to it; the manual gearbox has a heavy, notchy shift, which doesn’t suit the laid-back feel of the Cherokee as well as the auto.
After all, the auto ‘box is a smooth-shifting unit that rarely has to hunt for the right gear, and the auto Cherokee also has a high towing limit of 2475kg – over 600kg more than the manual models. The only frustration is that the auto can take a few moments to respond if you ask for a quick burst of speed.
There's plenty of noise from the engine, too, which is very coarse-sounding regardless of power output or gearbox, and there's also a fair amount of intrusive wind and tyre noise at motorway speeds too.
However, the Cherokee does have the upper hand on the more sporting SUVs in terms of ride comfort. It soaks up bumps and potholes easily, feeling settled and comfortable around town, with only very sharp-edged intrusions sending a shudder through the cabin.
The pay-off for the spongy ride is slack body control, which is really noticeable as the car leans heavily through corners, rocks about slightly as it goes over speed bumps, and also bounces over high-speed undulations.
The steering doesn't help, because it's inconsistently weighted, but it does still allow you to place the car precisely enough on the road. Still, between the soft ride, and smooth auto gearbox, the Cherokee makes for a relaxing and fairly stable cruiser.
What is the 2014 Jeep Cherokee like inside?
It's a bit of a mixed bag. There’s loads of space up front and the materials that sit in your eyeline look smart. They're certainly a lot better than those in other Jeeps of recent years. You also get a colour touch screen (5.0-inch on base models or 8.4-inch on other trims), which is the focal point for the cabin and the means to control all the major functions.
It’s quite easy to use thanks to chunky icons and logically laid-out menus, although the graphics don’t look as slick as in the best rival systems from Audi and BMW, and the responses can be a tad sluggish.
There's a shortage of lateral support to the seats too, and you will find plenty of brittle-feeling, scratchy plastics around the gearlever and in various places you regularly come into contact with.
Rear passenger space is decent. Provided you avoid the panoramic glass roof, which cuts into head-room, and have the 60/40 split sliding rear seats set as far back as possible, there’s room for two tall adults to lounge about in comfort.
The boot is a bit disappointing in terms of its outright capacity; at just 412 litres it's smaller than those in most rivals, and although you can increase it by sliding the seats forward, this leaves no legroom for rear passengers and an annoying gap between the back of the seats and the boot floor.
However, the space is a good shape, and the boot lip, while high off the ground, is level with the boot floor. You also get a rail of bag-hooks as standard, useful underfloor storage, and the seats fold completely flat, so while it may not be the largest boot in this class, it is one of the more practical.
Should I buy one?
The new Jeep Cherokee has plenty going for it. It rides comfortably, is competitively priced compared to premium rivals for both private and company car buyers, and also comes well equipped.
Even the entry-level Longitude spec comes with cruise and climate controls, rear parking sensors, a multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth, USB-input, and a DAB digital radio. You also get seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag.
However, for all its merits, the Cherokee still falls short in some key areas, particularly refinement and cabin quality. For this reason, it’s also hard to see how the Jeep can justify its premium over less upmarket rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai, and Mazda CX-5 which are just as spacious inside, handle and ride better, and are both a lot more efficient and vastly cheaper.
Ultimately, the Jeep Cherokee is a likeable and far more competitive prospect now than it ever has been, so if you like the brash looks then there's no reason you won't enjoy the car. Even so, there are better options out there for your money.
Tom Webster/Vicky Parrott
What Car? says...
Jeep Cherokee 2.0 4x2 Longitude
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Priced from £25,495
Torque 258lb ft
0-62mph 10.9 seconds
Top speed 116mph
Fuel economy 53.3mpg
Jeep Cherokee 2.0 4x4 Longitude automatic Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Priced from £29,995
Torque 258lb ft
0-62mph 10.3 seconds
Top speed 119mph
Fuel economy 48.7mpg