The new Jeep Cherokee

New Jeep Cherokee

New Jeep Cherokee - Credit: Archant

Kent Life looks at the offspring of parent brand Chrysler’s union with Fiat

Could this be a match made in motoring heaven: 4x4 king meets small car star?

The new Jeep Cherokee is the offspring of parent brand Chrysler’s union with Fiat and gets the best genes from each parent.

Jeep has never been a 4x4 slacker; the original Jeep gained fame as the go-anywhere battlefield wagon. While the rough and ready Wrangler model is a direct descendant, the Cherokee is its civilised cousin: barely less able off-road, and something you can drive anywhere while still enjoying the sound system.

But Cherokee economy has been its weakness and this is where Fiat brings something to the party: expertise that has repeatedly created the best cut-price compact off-road vehicle in the business, the Fiat Panda 4x4.

So the Cherokee’s powertrains include two powerful yet miserly Fiat 2.0-litre Multi Jet turbodiesels (140 and 170bhp) plus a new nine-speed auto transmission (170bhp model only).

Taking its cue from 4x4 arch-rival Land Rover, the new Cherokee is also offered in either eco-friendly front-wheel drive or full 4x4.

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The latter features what Jeep says is a first on a mid-size SUV: rear-axle disconnect, meaning better fuel consumption when 4x4 capability isn’t needed. This system seamlessly switches between two and four-wheel drive without any driver input.

But while there is some interesting tech most debate centres on the car’s styling and cabin quality.

On the looks front, the new Cherokee is the sleekest since the ‘Classic’ model that launched the nameplate here in the 1990s, and a big improvement on its boxy predecessor. The jury is still out, however, on the car’s updated interpretation of the famous Jeep slotted grille.

Turning to the cabin, Jeep has often struggled to trim and equip interiors to equal the off-road prowess of its cars, but there’s a definite step-up this time with upmarket options too like the ‘CommandView’ dual-pane electric sunroof, extending from the windscreen and almost to the rear of the car.

Buyers can also have a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel and wireless-charging pad for phones and other personal devices.

The Cherokee interior is practical too, with 60/40 split rear seats adjusting fore and aft for increased passenger comfort and cargo flexibility, plus fold-flat front passenger seat with stowage beneath the seat cushion.

The car also had a big safety thumbs-up with a five-star ‘best in class’ Euro NCAP rating in the Small Off-road 4x4 category.

Jeep Cherokee

Price: from £25,500

Driving appeal: not yet driven

Image: ****

Space: ****

Value: *****

Running costs: ****

Reliability: ****

How green?: ****

Best rival: Range Rover Evoque

News in brief

Top-class load lugger

Mercedes-Benz will expand the C-Class family from September 2014. The newly-launched saloon is joined then by this sharply sculpted and classy looking estate.

High economy comes from its strong, lightweight construction with advanced diesel and petrol powertrains and aerodynamics and, as ever with this German marque, great estate car practicality - it offers even more load space than its predecessor.

Drive-E drives on

All Volvos are now available with the Swedish marque’s latest Drive-E powertrains, blending drivability, economy, and low CO2 emissions. Too often the green option means sacrificing driving pleasure for economy and tax relief, but Drive-E has overturned that assumption. The190bhp Volvo V40 D4 diesel manual (pictured) for instance, emits a road tax-exempt 99g/km CO2 and returns 74.3mpg (official combined cycle).

Hitting the X-Trail

Nissan’s all-new and much racier-looking third generation X-Trail SUV arrived in showrooms this month. It shows the Japanese marque going for premium demand with luxurious and hi-tech kit at the top end, plus the option of five or seven seats. Yet prices start from a modest £22,995 for the entry level two-wheel drive (2WD) only variant - £2,600 less than before.

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