Jeep: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Diesel Limited review

Jeep: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Diesel Limited review

It’s quietly amusing to those of us with long memories, that the marriage of Daimler Chrysler and Mitsubishi ended in a fairly nasty and expensive split while the recent union between Fiat and Chrysler-Jeep seems to have worked rather well thus far.

How the conservative suit and tie executives in Auburn Hills, Michigan have coped answering to a charismatic Italian boss (with a razor sharp mind and wit) called Sergio Marchionne, who eschews ties and jackets, in favour of an open necked shirt and jumper, is anyones guess, but the products coming out of the US factories are better than they’ve ever been, even under Daimler’s stewardship.

2015 Cherokee Diesel numberplateMarchionne saw opportunity to mesh engine and transmission technologies and platforms between the two vehicle giants to create better economies of scale, and the new KL series Cherokee is one such product.

It combines a European diesel engine and stop/start technology with Jeeps prowess in off-road capability, wrapped up in a stylish body with the latest safety technology.

And for the moment theres a $5000 price reduction until the end of March 2014. So instead of coughing up $66,990 plus on road costs, a new Diesel Limited can be parked in the garage for $61,990 plus on road costs.

2015 Cherokee Diesel 4x4 badgeJust like Corporal Maxwell Klinger in the infamous 1970s US television series M*A*S*H, the new KL series Jeep Cherokee comes from a factory in Toledo, Ohio, where the brand has assembled Jeeps since the 1940s. Including the Willys Jeeps that graced the M*A*S*H set.

It would be fair to say that the Jeep brand has certainly benefited from the Italian injection of style and panache to it’s interiors and exteriors, mixed in with a hefty dollop of quality control, and ergonomic excellence.

2015 Cherokee Diesel Limited badgeIn the cabin the Cherokee Diesel Limited receives comfortable leather upholstered seats, with heating function for the driver and passenger which is operated through the central touch screen, that also controls the heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, audio, and navigation system.

There are some nice interior accent touches, with plenty of useful storage spaces and the all-important cup and bottle holders.

2015 Cherokee Diesel cabinUnlike some Jeeps of old which had a rather large transmission tunnel to deal with in right-hand-drive vehicles, now there is plenty of room for your left leg, the seats and steering wheel can be adjusted to suit drivers both short and tall, and the view of the road ahead and around is very good.

Other standard features include a nine-speaker Alpine surround system, 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera, keyless entry with remote stop/start, USB port for recharging cellphones, Xenon HID headlamps with washer 2015 Cherokee Diesel gaugesfunction, as well as an automatic headlamp levelling system.

The bluetooth system is simple and easy to use, and the call sound quality is also very good, your caller won’t think you are calling from a tin can, such is the lack of echo.

The park view rear back up camera combined with the Cherokees 7-inch TFT colour display is one of the best I have come across, middle aged men such as myself tend to be a bit short sighted, but with this system everything aft of the tailgate is pictured in crystal clear reproduction.

2015 Cherokee Diesel rear cameraAdditional safety feature options include the forward collision warning plus system, ParkSense parallel and perpendicular parking assistance, adaptive cruise control plus, lane departure warning plus, blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection.

Compare the new KL series Jeep Cherokee with it’s predecessor the KK series and its like night and day. The styling and design of the KL, particularly up front, is different and unique and like Vegemite, some folks will like it, others may not, I absolutely love 2015 Cherokee Diesel rear 3:4it and I think it gets better looking as the car ages.

The new Cherokee shares a platform with the Alfa-Romeo Giulietta, as well as the Dodge Dart, and Chrysler 200 sedans, which we are unlikely to see launched in New Zealand. The trade off though is that this Cherokee has one of the best ride and handling packages in its class, yet it still retains that quintessential Jeep ability to go off the beaten track when you wish to.

2015 Cherokee diesel tailgateI was impressed by the comfort and handling of the Diesel Limited, it has unique ability to soak up some of the worst New Zealand road conditions without rattling your fillings, and on rougher, rockier surfaces such as Waikowhai Bay where these pictures were taken, it still remain calm and composed over some pretty gnarly ruts and bumps.

Unlike many Jeep purists who reckon a petrol engine is the only way to go, I’ve always preferred the diesel option because I think the low-down torque of an oiler engine is better suited to off-2015 Cherokee Diesel side profileroad conditions.

And Jeep it would seem has the same opinion which is why the Cherokee Diesel Limited has the Active Drive II four-wheel-drive system, which features a two-speed power-transfer unit with torque management and a low range which is unique to the diesel engine.

The Diesel Limited also gets the Selec-terrain system which gives the driver greater confidence off-road and on. There are four settings, Auto, Sport, Snow, Sand/Mud, perfectly self explanatory.

And slipping in and out of low ratio is simple, quick and easy without any clunking or hesitation shown by the system.

One particularly great feature of the Active Drive II system, is that it will as conditions allow, disengage the rear axle when on the tarmac, which helps to reduce fuel consumption, in addition to the stop/start system which which shut the engine down and restart it when sitting stationery in heavy traffic.

Jeep claims a fuel consumption figure of 5.8L/100km, we managed an average consumption of 8L/100km during our test which mainly consisted of short urban trips with the odd motorway dash thrown in.

The 2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine is a Multijet unit built by Fiat in Europe, and while an overall power figure of 125kW and a torque figure of 350Nm might seem a bit modest in this day and age, adding the nine-speed automatic transmission to the package makes the most of the engines delightful character.

There is no denying this is a diesel engine, but the initial clatter on start up disappears and thanks to the nine-speed ZF transmission you can get from standstill to motorway speed as quickly as you need to, and in top gear the car will waft along quietly making it an ideal long distance machine.

The one small caveat in what is a very good car, is the boot space. Its not as big as some of the competitors but the Diesel Limited makes up for this by having a towing capacity of nearly 2400kg, so if it won’t fit in the boot, you can easily tow it behind you!

Price: $61,990 plus on road costs

Pros:

  • Good fuel economy
  • Excellent handling on road and off
  • Brilliant transmission

Cons:

  • Smaller boot space
  • Styling won’t suit all tastes

Words and pictures:

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