Jeep Cherokee 2.8 CRD 2008 Review

Jeep Cherokee 2.8 CRD 2008 Review


The Jeep name has always been synonymous with tough ‘ready to go anywhere and bring anything back’ practicality which was borne of a military need.

Even the name Jeep (in part) stems from military slang for ‘untested vehicle’ though many believe the Just Enough Essential Parts acronym which it earnt during the Korean war for its spartan design is a more accurate tag.

With the new Cherokee, Jeep seeks to combine luxury car-like cruising attributes with the proven off-road ability that the marque is famous for.

The diesel engine gave us a Johnny Depp-style surprise by being both American and refined. Not very much clatter usually associated with diesels here at all, just a smooth sounding four-pot that growls when pushed hard like a crabby co-worker, pre-morning coffee.

The distance you have to push the accelerator pedal down to get any meaningful thrust is long (think ‘Mariana Trench’), the torque on offer really propels the Jeep forward like a kick up the bum from ‘Texas Ranger’ Norris himself.

The 2.8 litre engine really punches above its weight in terms of performance, surging the Cherokee forward on a crushing tide of 460Nm of torque which is available from 2000rpm. This torque helps the Jeep achieve a towing capacity of up to 2270kg.

Chrysler quotes official fuel consumption as 12.2L/100km for the urban cycle, and 9.4L/100km for the combined cycle. During our time with it we registered 10.1L/100km (combined) over 250km.

The interior of the Cherokee while not as enjoyable as the Playboy Mansion is a nice place to be with options like full leather seats and MyGIG stereo system that features a 20 gigabyte hard drive, USB connectivity and DVD player providing comfort and entertainment on long journeys.

There are some problems with the interior however, namely the lack of space in the passenger and driver footwells – caused by a wide transmission tunnel – and the lack of adjustability with the steering wheel which doesn’t adjust for reach. The shortage of foot room makes the driving experience slightly uncomfortable, more so for tall people. The back seat itself is comfortable (if a little slippery on the twisty roads) but legroom could be a problem if there are tall people front and back.

Interior plastics and surfaces are a step up from the usual U.S ‘TV dinner tray’ fare, but you won’t get Euro-class fit and finish at this price point in almost any SUV

Being made for the North American market the handbrake is on the wrong side of the centre console. This goes for the layout of the shifter as well.

The big news with the Cherokee however is the optional two-way fabric roof that can open either forwards or backwards allowing all passengers, front, rear or both to enjoy open top motoring. It is a great feature, but more for those interested in star gazing than those who want to be seen.

Cargo space in the Cherokee is 419L with the rear seats up and 1404L when folded down.  The rear seats fold to create a flat floor and feature several cargo hooks in the floor and the back of the seats which is quite useful for tying down loose loads.

The automatic tailgate window can be opened independently of the tailgate which is handy for putting the shopping in or for long loads and is activated by a button on the key fob, or a separate button to the right of the numberplate light.

Ride comfort is good on smooth roads, which is probably down to the unitary chassis and coil springs all-round, though there is some skittishness over potholes which is as unexpected as finding out Mr T’s favourite colour is pink -. Not what you really expect from a tough American icon.

Four wheel-drive is selectable on the move with both high and low ranges available on the five-speed auto, though our test route only saw the Cherokee traverse wet gravel roads which it had no problems with. Hill descent and hill holding features are standard.

A colleague did have the opportunity to sample the Cherokee off-road recently and said it was a spankingly good 4WD.

The Cherokee has parking sensors but no reversing camera which is odd given the 6.5-inch screen in the dash and the fact that many 4WDs feature reversing cameras these days.

All the normal luxury stuff that you get for $56,990 is there including air-conditioning, cruise control and electrically adjustable heated seats.

Like Chuck Norris’ acting the Cherokee isn’t perfect, but it makes up for its short-comings of a cramped interior with optional extras like the retracting roof and excellent sound system which do help to make the package more appealing as does the torquey and tough diesel engine.

Click through to the next page for full specs on the Jeep Cherokee.

Price: from $46,990. Price as tested $56,990 (Limited option) excluding extras.

What we like

  • Huge torque
  • Awesome stereo

What we don’t like

  • Cramped footwell
  • Interior engineered for the U.S market

3.7L V6 3700
2.8L CRD I-4 2768

Horsepower (kW@rpm)
3.7L V6 151 @ 5200
2.8L CRD I-4 130 @ 3800

Torque (Nm @ rpm)
3.7L V6 314 @ 4000
2.8L CRD I-4 460 @ 2000 (Automatic)

3.7L V6 Sequential multipoint electronic fuel injection
2.8L CRD I-4 Direct-injection, common rail (1600 bar)

2.8L I-4 CRD
Transmission 5-speed automatic with overdrive, electronic govenor, electronically controlled converter clutch Std.

3.7L V6
4-speed automatic with overdrive and lockup torque converter;
electronically controlled Std.

Selec-Trac® II MP3022 Active full-time; 2-speed with 2WD and 4WD auto high range, low range (2.72:1) and neutral, variable with 35/65 front/rear default torque split, electronically controlled clutch pack coupling in centre differential and open front and rear differentials Std.

CAPACITIES/WEIGHTS(kg unless otherwise specified)
Fuel Tank (L)
3.7L V6 73.8
2.8L CRD I-4 70.0

Base Curb Weight (kg)3.7L V6 1935
2.8L CRD I-4 1985

Max Cargo Weight (kg) 590

Maximum Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (kg)
3.7L V6 2540
2.8L CRD I-4 2520

Towing Capacity (without/with load-levelling device)1600kg/2270kg
Tongue Load Limit (without/with load-levelling device) 160kg/227kg

Body Design
UniFrame construction: All-steel body sheet metal and frame structural members welded and bonded into a single unit Std.

Front Suspension: Independent short/long arm (SLAnm) with cast-iron lower and forged steel upper A-shaped control arms, coil springs, stabiliser bar; low-pressure gas-charged shock absorbers; 1247 kg gross axle weight rating
Rear: Five-link solid axle with tubular track bar, upper and lower trailing control arms, coil springs, stabiliser bar, low-pressure gas-charged shock absorbers; 1451 kg gross axle weight rating

Steering Power-assisted, rack-and-pinion
Overall Ratio 17.4:1
Turns (lock-to-lock) 3.4
Turning Diameter (m) curb-to-curb 10.8

Brake System
Power-assisted; ventilated disc brakes; 302 mm rotor diameter Front Power-assisted; solid disc brakes; 316 mm rotor diameter Rear Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
Four-channel, four-wheel antilock with active wheel-speed, vehicle-speed, steering-wheel angle, yaw-rate, and lateral-acceleration sensors, vehicle stability management with two-stage activation switch, all-speed traction control, Brake Lock Differentials, Brake Assist, Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM), Hill Start Assist and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) Std. Hill Descent Control Std.

INTERIOR DIMENSIONS(mm unless otherwise specified)
Head Room, front/rear 1024/1027
Leg Room, front/rear 1036/982
Shoulder Room, front/rear 1449/1436
Hip Room, front/rear 1338/1229
Cargo Volume (L), rear seat up/folded 419/1404
Seating Capacity, front/rear 2/3 Adults

EXTERIOR DIMENSIONS (mm unless otherwise specified)
Length Wheelbase 2694
Overall Length 4493
Overhang, front/rear 744/1055
Width Body Width 1839
Track, front/rear 1549/1549
Height with/without roof rack side rails 1797/1736
Ground Clearance, (at base curb weight) front/rear 189/196
Water Fording (at 8km/h) 483
Approach Angle(2)/Departure Angle 38.2º/30º
Breakover Angle 21.7º

Words Ben Dillon, photos Darren Cottingham

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