LAUNCH | Jeep Cherokee Stays True To Its Heritage

MyDrive | Jeep Cherokee Launch – Cherokee Stays True To Its Heritage
Written by Adam Tonkin

MyDrive | Jeep Australia – The evolution of Jeep continues to expand as the company enters a new phase of development and world-wide distribution. Not just an American company supplying to the American mainland, Jeep is now exported to some 140 countries and is watched closely by its competitors.

With only 83 Jeep Cherokee’s sold in Australia last year, the competition has quite literally jumped the American manufacturer in the small SUV segment. Although Jeep is ready to hit back with an all-new Cherokee that’s more about revolution than evolution.

There are four models in the Jeep Cherokee line-up;
1. Sport
2. Longitude
3. Limited
4. Trailhawk

Jeep Australia chose Wilpena Pound, located 460 kms north of Adelaide to launch the futuristic looking yet lively 2014 Jeep Cherokee.

It is a stunning location full of rocky flats, stunning mountain ranges with razor sharp peaks that spell disaster if you don’t have the right equipment or as in this case, the right SUV 4X4. This launch saw quite a few firsts for me personally, flying in a plane with less than eight seats, eating our country’s coat of arms [Kangaroo and Emu], Glamping [fancy camping] and 4X4 driving in Australia’s rugged outback… in a Jeep!

Exterior Styling
Once known for bland but robust shapes, Jeep has engineered Cherokee’s polished yet futuristic look into a unique trans-modern style that incorporates Jeep’s signature seven slot grill.

Physically smaller than the Grand Cherokee, the Cherokee hides its 1.8 ton mass with shorter front and rear over hangs, a sportier roofline and sleek yet fluid aerodynamic panels.

‘The Cherokee has stayed true to its heritage with several lines throughout the body being maintained from previous generations’ said Head of Design for Jeep, Mark Allen.

The most aggressive model of the range is the Trailhawk with pronounced body panels, deep facias for sharp entry and exit points, bright red tow hooks forward and aft and 17” polished rims with Yokohama tyres.

The Trailhawk is the only Cherokee to wear black decals on the bonnet and the ‘Trail Rated’ badge which signifies the Trailhawk’s ability to take on the toughest off road tracks according to Jeep.

‘The exterior design was no mistake, the brief stated that the Cherokee had to be identifiable during the day and night so the Cherokee team spent a lot of time on the light strategy especially with the DRL’s [Daytime Running Lights] which had to be very distinctive’ says Greg Howell, Lead Cherokee Designer from Detroit Michigan USA.

Engine and Transmission
With many enhancements over the previous model, the latest Cherokee has been rebuilt from the ground up. The Cherokee arrives with a new 9-Speed ZF gearbox which was specifically designed and built by Jeep using ZF technology.

The new gearbox is standard across the range and offers a level of refinement not seen in previous generations.

The Cherokee is available with two engines, the 2.4L Tigershark MultiAir and the 3.2L V6 Petrol Penstar which both offer good power and fuel economy.

The V6 Penstar engine is the obvious choice especially if you tow a trailer or 4X4 driving regularly.

A 2.0 litre diesel will be available later this year for the Sport, Longitude and Limited models with the Trailhawk missing out completely.

Being in the Australian Outback, I had the chance to put the Trailhawk’s Selec-Terrain traction control system to the test.

Selec-Terrain electronically coordinates pre-set systems [Snow, Rock, Mud and Sand] to optimise the 4X4 performance of the Trailhawk over different terrains.

Even for a complete 4X4 novice such as myself, I felt at home behind the wheel with the smart technology there to take control as I drove around the vast Wilpena Pound 4X4 course.

Chassis and Suspension
The chassis and suspension have been developed together to provide maximum rigidity and comfort over a range of different terrains. On the road the suspension across the range feels firm and planted to the road.

Over uneven dirt roads and water crossings, the Sport, Longitude and Limited models all performed without fault, soaking up the rutty roads and making the cabin a pleasant place to be.

To provide maximum ground clearance, the Trailhawk’s suspension is slightly more rugged for 4X4 driving and is set at 8.7”, a full inch taller than its competitors.

Steering feels direct and light which is ultimately required when tackling the Australian Outback. Cherokee’s steel uniframe provides a 36% improvement of torsional rigidity over the outgoing model with 65% of the structure being hot stamped in ultra high and high strength steel.

Interior Styling
Through the use of high quality materials and design cues from the Grand Cherokee, Interior Designer Winnie Chung, has incorporated a unique fit and finish that uses high quality materials which won Ward’s best interior design for 2014.

The interior matches the modern exterior with inspiration coming from exotic locations around the world. With no less than nine different interiors to choose from, Jeep is working incredibly hard to appeal to all markets.

Up front the leather seats are both comfortable and supportive with the rear leather seats offering passengers a decent amount of legroom.

Technology hasn’t been forgotten either with the driver’s instrument cluster receiving a 7” display that can be easily viewed and customised to show a range of information. The inclusion of a wireless charging pad for your mobile phone is another smart and handy feature.

Safety Systems
The new Jeep comes standard with seventy (70) safety features and systems with the Cherokee receiving ANCAP’s 5 Star safety rating.

A short list of the Cherokee’s safety features;
• All Speed Traction Control System
• Adaptive Cruise control
• Full Length Curtain Side Airbags (All passenger rows)
• Driver Knee Airbag
• Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM)
• Including BTCS, LATCH, BLDS, EPB, MOC, ABS, TSC, TPM all of which spell passenger and pedestrian safety.

Key Competitors
The Cherokee has stiff competition in its category although wins in key areas such as rear passenger leg room, an award winning interior, 5 Star ANCAP safety rating, a 9-Speed gearbox and real 4X4 capability.
• Toyota RAV4
• Honda CR-V
• Subaru Forester
• Mazda CX-5

Vehicle Will Suit?
If you are looking for a vehicle that can quite literally transform from a daily grocery getter to a rugged mountain conquer, this might be the Cherokee you have been waiting for.

Pricing and Features
Cherokee Sport 2.4L Tigershark MultiAir 2 I-4 Cylinder Petrol, 9 Speed ZF Auto $33,500.00
Cherokee Longitude 3.2L V6 Petrol Penstar 200kW-272HP, 9 Speed ZF Auto $39,000.00
Cherokee Limited 3.2L V6 Petrol Penstar 200kW-272HP, 9 Speed ZF Auto $44,500.00
Cherokee Trailhawk 3.2L V6 Petrol Penstar 200kW-272HP,9 Speed ZF Auto $47,500.00

Final Thought
In the hotly contested SUV marketplace, Jeep’s new Cherokee range is well placed with an impressive list of standard technology. The exterior design may not be to everyone’s liking although owners can expect to get plenty of looks with the futuristic yet muscular Cherokee.

With an award winning interior, the highest towing capacity of its field of 2.2 ton, impressive 4X4 ruggedness, the Cherokee is aimed at appealing to existing customers while enticing new buyers. Regardless if you’re going ‘Glamping’ or taking the swag into the great unknown, the Cherokee will get you there in comfort and style.

For further information on the new Jeep Cherokee range including options and specifications, click > www.jeep.com.au

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