Jeep: 2014 Cherokee Limited V6 review

Jeep: 2014 Cherokee Limited V6 review

When the first pictures of the new Jeep Cherokee leaked out of America, many people including myself looked at it and wondered what the design team had been smoking on their tea break.

The square boxy KK series Jeep Cherokee as we all knew it, had been consigned to the rubbish bin, replaced by a modern and contemporary-looking SUV that wouldn’t look out of place in the showroom of any Korean, Japanese, or European brand.

The radical exterior design of the new KL series Cherokee divides the rugged lower body and smooth upper body by the key waterline feature and a waterfall bonnet says Jeep.

DSC_0007According to Jeep’s head of design Mark Allen: “Our vision was a smooth and flowing upper body with signature Jeep cues such as the peaked seven-slot grille, trapezoidal wheel arches, and the functional ‘kink’ in the belt line mated to a tough, durable lower body.”

Jeep says the one-piece bonnet and grille assembly ensures a precise build, and the daytime running light plays a dominant role giving the impression of a slim headlamp, while a well-hidden projector headlamp is almost in disguise below the DRLs near the dark fascia.

The unique DRL feature lamps are placed high for water DSC_0013fording, because this is a Jeep after all!

Additionally the tail lamps mounted high on the Cherokees tailgate are also full LED and Jeep purposely designed the lower fascia to allow fitting room for every type of licence plate across the globe, from the longer rectangular European plates to shorter squarer plates such as those in the USA and Japan.

A new description in the media kit that I’d never heard of before was the execution of the shape of the Daylight Opening (DLO), which to mere mortals such as you and me, refers to the shape of the door and side windows, which Jeep says allow the drivers better visibility while spotting obstacles on the trail.

DSC_0014Its the also the first Jeep product thats built on Chrysler Groups CUS-wide (compact US) platform and its a monocoque rather than a ladder-chassis, so the rock and roll on-road ride and handling of previous generations has also been consigned to history.

The Cherokee Longitude, Limited (as tested here) and Trailhawk models are all fitted with the new Pentastar 3.2-litre V6 petrol engine matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission and on-demand all-wheel-drive.

A Sport version of the new KL series Cherokee is available solely in front-wheel-drive with a four-cylinder 2.4-litre Tigershark MultiAir II petrol engine.

Jeep quotes 130kW of power and 229Nm of torque for the grunt-y sounding 3.2-litre Pentastar V6 and reckons its 20% more fuel efficient than the engine in the previous KK-series Cherokee, official fuel consumption is quoted at 10L/100km.

We didn’t manage to get under 13L/100km during our test week but the Cherokee Limited spend most of its time in urban running, with a few quick motorway dashes thrown in, had we gone for a nice long leisurely cruise, then it would have more than likely had contributed to a much better figure.

Our Limited test car arrived absolutely stock standard in a paint colour called Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl complemented with a fairly sombre yet functional cabin in dark grey and charcoal-image110230_bcoloured upholstery.

Hooking up an iPhone to the U Connect system is quick and easy, and I also liked the way the touchscreen brought up the seat heater selection on screen the moment the ignition was turned on.

There are only two heat settings for the very comfortable front seats, warm and very warm, but both were appreciated during the recent icy July weather, and the quick defrosting ability of the climate air-conditioning was also highly appreciated.

The execution of the interior was a huge improvement over the image110215_bprevious KK series Cherokee in terms of quality and functionality, but the best feature was that a quick vacuum of the carpet mats and a wipe with a clean damp cloth over the seats and door surfaces was all that was required to keep the car interior looking pristine.

Jeep hasn’t lost sight of the fact that people do indeed use their vehicles off-road (or in my case carry a troupe of rugby players) and they can get a bit grubby inside, so the durable surfaces remain thankfully, but the quality of the plastics has improved immeasurably.

image110221_bSo too has the ride and handling, this is the most car-like production Jeep Cherokee I have yet driven.

It feels taut, stable, comfortable and composed, regardless of whether you are crawling through the urban traffic or hustling down a motorway on-ramp. Theres also a sport mode of which we’ll cover in more depth below.

There are four driving modes for Cherokee Limited drivers to choose from being: Auto, Sport, Snow, Sand/Mud.

With a twist of the Select-Trac dial a driver can select the mode best suited to need.

image110223_bAuto enables standard drive mode (being front-wheel-drive), standard electronic brake controls and will automatically detect the need for four-wheel-drive engagement. In this mode the front/rear torque spilt is fully active and variable depending on the driving conditions.

Every so often when accelerating heavily from standstill from a tee-junction into a sharp turn on a damp surface, I could feel the system sending drive to the rear-wheels to maintain traction and equilibrium.

Sport mode allows enhanced on-road driver control by limiting traction control, raising the ESC slip threshold, allows a image110218_bdriveline torque bias for improved cornering and also allows a target front/rear torque split of up to 40/60%.

Why you would want such a mode in such a vehicle amuses me, but I have to say that purely for research purposes I selected Sport mode and gave it a try. Needless to say it does exactly what it says on the tin. For a high-riding-darned-near-two-tonne vehicle, it feel more like a sports sedan in this mode, but you wouldn’t want to try it when loaded with passengers and freight!

Snow mode is for use in inclement weather and provides a image110231_bsecond-gear launch from standstill, slick surface electronic brakes controls, full-time four-wheel-drive and also allows for the 40/60% front to rear torque split.

Sand and mud mode gives the drive off-road biased electronic brake controls, full-time four-wheel-drive, and a front/rear torque split of up to 100% rear if required.

Apart from parking the Cherokee Limited on the sand at Waikowhai Bay for photography I wasn’t able to put the snow, sand or mud mode of Selec-Terrain system to much of a test, but I’m confident that they would work impeccably.

DSC_0016My one and only slightly negative comment about the new KL series Cherokee is the boot space with the rear seats fully back, its not great for a rugby team manager with lots of gear to cart. One 96 litre chilly bin pretty much filled the space and I found myself packing other bags, a bottle carrier, and the gumboots around it!

That said, you can flip and fold the rear seats down flat, and for even longer loads the passenger seat up front will also fold over flat, a trick Jeep copied from the Volvo XC-90 but a very useful one nonetheless.

For the record, Jeep says the boot space is 591 litres with the seats up, 714 litres with the second row of seats moved forward and 1267 litres when folded down flat.

The Cherokee is also fitted with a system called i-brake that will automatically apply the handbrake if it detects an object behind the car when reversing, a great feature for families with children or small animals, but mildly alarming for motoring journalists who are unaware of it’s presence.

In summary, the new KL series Cherokee is a huge step up over its predecessor in many ways, it is more refined, more fuel efficient, better put together, much better equipped, and definitely more stylish thanks to that waterfall bonnet and those unique daytime running lamps!

Price: $61,990

Pros:

  • Lots of technology
  • Well designed and executed
  • High quality finish

Cons:

  • Fuel consumption
  • Boot space isn’t great with seats fully back

Standard features:

  • Jeep Active Drive 1 4×4 system
  • Selec-Terrain drive mode selector
  • Bright daylight opening (DLO) moulding and roof rails
  • Deep tint sunscreen glass
  • Bi-Xenon (HID) headlamps with power washer and automatic levelling system
  • Fog lamps
  • Front passenger fold-flat seat with in-seat storage space
  • Leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel
  • 7-inch full-colour TFT
  • Reconfigurable instrument cluster
  • U Connect 8.4N HD radio with navigation and 8.4-inch touchscreen
  • 506-watt Alpine audio with nine speakers and a subwoofer
  • USB port in the instrument panel media centre for iPod
  • Park sense front and rear parking sensors
  • Ambient LED interior lighting
  • Dual zone control climate air-conditioning
  • Auto-dimming rear mirroe
  • Rain-sensitive automatic windscreen wipers
  • Power 8-way driver seat with 4-way power lumbar adjustment
  • Power tailgate
  • Automatic headlamps
  • Remote start system
  • Leather-wrapped shift knob

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