First Drive

2015 Jeep Cherokee 2.2 Multijet 200 4WD Auto review

This is our first go in the Jeep Cherokee equipped with the new 197bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel Multijet engine. Does it help the firm's mid-size SUV bridge the gap to its more premium rivals?

Words ByAaron Smith

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The fifth-generation Jeep Cherokee has been around for a while now, having been launched in the UK just over a year ago.

This is an important market for Jeep; according to the firm, the UK is the biggest (in terms of sales) for the Cherokee throughout Europe and Africa.

In response to customer demands for a gutsier motor and more performance, Jeep has got rid of the 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine from its range and replaced it with a more powerful, more efficient 2.2-litre motor.

This 2.2 Multijet turbodiesel unit develops 197bhp and 324lb ft of torque, up from the previous engine's 168bhp and 258lb ft.

Fuel economy improves from a claimed official 48.7mpg to 49.6mpg, as do CO2 emissions, which drop from 154g/km to 150g/km.

The revised Cherokee is available in two trim levels - Longitude and Limited - and mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox.

What is the 2015 Jeep Cherokee like to drive?

It's brisk enough; the more powerful motor is a big improvement on the engine it replaces. You no longer have to work the motor hard to make decent progress, as long as you keep it in its sweet spot around 2500rpm. It's even quite relaxing in normal driving, too.

From there, the Cherokee pulls urgently and only starts to tail off once you get above 3500rpm. You'll seldom need to take it into the higher rev range, though. It also has an increased towing weight over its predecessor - up by 20kg to 2495kg and over 600kg more than its manual variant.

The nine-speed automatic gearbox is smooth-shifting and seamless enough that sometimes you second-guess yourself whether it's changed gear or not.

However, when changing up or down a gear in its manual mode, the auto 'box is rather hesitant, so it's best to leave it to its own devices in 'Drive' mode. It can also be slow to react when trying to kick down a gear with a quick prod of the accelerator, too.

The Cherokee's electrically-assisted steering setup has an inconsistent weighting that feels heavier than you might expect. It steers the car in an accurate fashion and you can place the Cherokee exactly where you want it, but the extra weight does nothing to increase the communication from the front wheels to your palms.

One of the Cherokee's strengths is its ride comfort. For a mid-sized SUV with some off-road capability, the Cherokee handles competently enough. The ride is composed for the most part except for some choppiness over ripples, but tip the Cherokee in to a bend and there is noticeable body movement.

In normal driving conditions the engine is quite refined, only a small amount of vibration transfers through to the cabin and pedals. However, as soon as you get into the higher echelons of the rev range the engine note turns coarse.

What's the 2015 Jeep Cherokee like inside?

There's plenty of space up front and in the rear, and the seats are comfortable and were electrically adjustable on our Limited trim test car.

Some of the cabin materials used aren't the best, particularly the fake wood trim on the door and the sharp stitching on the multi-function steering wheel, but it's still a vast improvement on Jeeps of old.

As standard on Limited models you get an 8.4in touchscreen infotainment system, reversing camera, Bluetooth, sat-nav, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats and leather interior. Rear legroom is decent too and the Cherokee will comfortably transport four tall adults with no problem at all.

At 591 litres with the seats up, boot space is one of the biggest in class - BMW's X3 manages 550 litres in the same configuration. The Cherokee's boot is a good shape, too and the boot lip is level with the boot floor, even though it's high off the ground. It's one of the more practical boots in the class because the seats fold completely flat, expanding the boot capacity to 1267 litres.

The car comes with plenty of safety equipment - seven airbags and a driver's knee airbag, hill start assist, traction control, electronic roll mitigation, and brake stability control are all standard. Optional extras include lane departure warning, forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.

Should I buy one?

Thanks to this new engine, the 2.2 Limited Cherokee is the most flexible and refined models in the range and it comes with a generous level of equipment as standard.

It's also a smarter purchase for private and company car buyers now, thanks to its improved fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

Despite this, the Cherokee still lags behind its rivals when it comes to cabin quality and refinement. At Β£36,795, it's up against similarly priced, more premium rivals such as Land Rover's Discovery Sport 2.2 SD4 SE Tech auto and the BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport.

Both offer similar levels of performance with a plusher cabin and a noticeably better driving experience. You could even consider more mainstream compact SUVs such as Nissan's Qashqai and Mazda CX-5, which ride and handle better, are just as spacious inside and are almost Β£7000 cheaper in top-spec trim.

Overall, the Jeep Cherokee in this guise is at its most competitive. With its brash design and four-wheel drive capability, it's still a likeable proposition, but there are better rivals out there for the money.

What Car? says...

The rivals:

Nissan Qashqai Land Rover Discovery Sport

Jeep Cherokee 2.2 Multijet 200 4WD Auto Limited

Engine size 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel

Price from Β£36,795

Power 197bhp

Torque 324lb ft

0-62mph 8.5 seconds

Top speed 127mph

Fuel economy 49.6mpg

CO2 150g/km

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Jeep Cherokee

What Car? SaysRated 2 out of 5
Owners sayRated 4 out of 5

For all its merits, the Cherokee falls short in some key areas, particularly cabin quality and refinement.