What comes to mind when you hear the word “Jeep“? To many it is the eponymous 4WD that won WWII. But in this age of global manufacturing, Jeep is building a crossover. The Cherokee is named for one of the 5 Civilized Tribes, the best one in my humble opinion. I am a descendant of that tribe, and glad that Fiat-Chrysler named it in their honor.
It was introduced in 2014 with bold styling and seating for five. A nice refresh in 2019 added LED lighting and a more pronounced grille, and we received one of the first examples. As the 3rd Cherokee we have reviewed, our initial reactions were to notice the improvements in quality and value. For the 2018 model year, production moved from Jeep’s legendary Toledo plant to Belvidere , Illinois. The home of the K-Car and the Neon has built quality small cars.
Because the plant was already building the Dodge Dart, it was easy to build a Jeep on the same chassis. Other siblings include the Chrysler 200 and the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, which we have thoroughly enjoyed. This is the first modern Cherokee we’ve driven with a V6, and the 3.2 is a smooth runner. It offers 19 mpg city and 27 on the highway thanks to the 9-speed automatic. The transmission has a neat feature of disconnecting the rear axles while cruising, which helps save fuel.
The issue with having 9 gears is that it is always shifting. It only has 271 horsepower and 239 lb-ft of torque to play with, so any movement of the accelerator causes a downshift. It either needs more power or fewer gears to provide a calm experience. Both differentials are open, and the brakes are used to send power to any wheel that is slipping. While this is great for going off-road, there is not enough torque to safely handle 2 tons and low ground clearance.
Inside, we were treated to premium leather everywhere. The controls are in logical places and the touchscreen interface is first-rate. We are so happy to have a real console shifter. The rotary dial found in other competitors is a failure point we won’t abide. Road and engine noise are not a concern thanks to great insulation, and the 9-speaker system has a powerful subwoofer. It supports Apple and Android, and includes Jeep’s best feature. The steering wheel controls are so intuitive that every other automaker should copy them. This dates back to the mid-90s, and it is still Chrysler’s gift to the world.
In conclusion, you and I both know this isn’t going off-road. But if you encounter bad weather or hit the dirt roads, the Cherokee has your back. It is an American icon with a sticker price of $34,445. Because crossovers are stacking up, Jeep is offering great leasing terms, so click the link below and tell them a Cherokee reviewed it.