2016 Cherokee New Car Test Drive
The original Jeep Cherokee in 1984 established the standard for sport-utility vehicles (SUV) that could be used as family transport. Today's market favors more carlike utility vehicles. Introduced as a 2014 model, today's Cherokee is a midsize crossover SUV.
Even though Jeep has built plenty of off-road ability and ruggedness into the revived Cherokee, it's intended mainly for families and daily tasks. Far removed from the truck-like Liberty that it replaced, the current Cherokee has a look all its own: the kind that could be called either daring or radical. Most glaring is the front end, both Jeeplike and strikingly different.
Looks aside, the Cherokee fits right between urban-friendly crossovers and serious off-roaders. Primary competitors include some well-established, conventional-looking compact crossovers, including the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Ford Escape. It's a relatively roomy, family-size five-seat vehicle, with a back seat suitable for adults.
Jeep offers a choice of V6 or four-cylinder engine, both with 9-speed automatic transmission. The 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline-4 delivers swift, quiet, reasonably smooth acceleration.
The 3.2-liter V6 delivers 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque. All V6 models now include engine stop-start, intended to save a little fuel in stop-and-go commuting. Gas mileage is acceptable, but short of excellent.
Offered for the Cherokee are Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk editions. The Cherokee Limited is the luxurious flagship, while Cherokee Trailhawks are ready for trekking, raised by an inch, with a locking rear differential, red tow hooks, and additional skid plates.
Front-wheel drive is standard. Four-wheel-drive systems include Active Drive I and Active Drive II (with a dual-range transfer case). All 4×4 models have Selec-Terrain, with modes for Snow, Rock, and Sand/Mud.
Options include a panoramic sunroof and Sky Slider roof, soft Nappa leather upholstery, and memory heated/ventilated seats. Top models include a reconfigurable LED instrument cluster. An optional hands-free parking system can steer and nudge the car into a parking spot.
2016 Cherokee models with the 8.4-inch Uconnect screen get a new Drag and Drop menu bar, Do Not Disturb mode, and Siri Eyes Free compatibility.
When equipped with Forward Collision Warning Plus, Cherokee earns a Superior rating for frontal crash prevention from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Cherokee four stars overall; five for side impact.
Prices include four-cylinder engine.
Cherokee Sport ($23,395) has front-wheel drive, with Active Drive I optional ($25,295), cloth upholstery, air conditioning, keyless entry, 17-inch wheels. Cherokee Latitude ($25,295) adds LED cabin lighting, a fold-flat front passenger seat, Uconnect with 8.4-inch touchscreen, roof rails, and foglamps. Active Drive II and the V6 engine are available.
Cherokee Limited ($28,995) features leather upholstery, heated power front seats, 18-inch wheels, pushbutton start, a 7-inch reconfigurable information screen, rearview camera, and remote start.
Cherokee Trailhawk 4×4 ($30,895) comes with Jeep's Trail Rated badge, meaning it has genuine capability, a suspension tuned for off-highway, transmission and oil coolers, Active Drive with locking differential, Selec-Speed Control, 17-inch wheels. Options include the V6 and navigation.
Ten airbags are standard, including knee and rear-seat side airbags. Latitude and Trailhawk include rearview camera. For all except Sport, a safety package combines rear cross-path detection, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and rear park assist.