Jeep Cherokee SUV (2014-2019)
"The Jeep Cherokee is great off-road, comfortable and good-looking, but it can’t beat top rivals as an all-rounder"
- Top-spec models well equipped
- Comfortable ride
- Off-road ability
- High-quality rivals
- Thirsty petrol engine
- Not much fun to drive
The SUV hasn’t always been as popular as it is today, but some manufacturers recognised its abilities decades ago. Jeep first made an SUV designed for family life more than 30 years ago – in the form of the original Cherokee. The name is still going strong today, but the latest version faces considerably more opposition, including the likes of the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Audi Q5 and BMW X3.
In late 2018, the fifth generation was treated to a facelift to keep it firmly on the radar of customers. Its nose is now more conventionally styled, with square LED headlights and rugged bumpers. The tail has changed less significantly, but the lights have been updated here, too, while the number plate has been moved onto the tailgate.
The competition hasn’t only grown in size, but also in quality – so much so that the Cherokee now lags behind many of its rivals in key areas. While the Jeep remains impressive off-road, it isn’t so great to drive anywhere else, and buyers needn’t make such a compromise any more. Alternatives like the Mazda CX-5, Q5 and X3 – all of which are much better to drive in town and on twisty country roads – make the Cherokee hard to recommend. Even when you consider a car like the Discovery Sport, which easily matches the Cherokee’s off-road ability, you find out that it too is better on normal roads.
While the Cherokee certainly isn’t the best all-rounder, in lower-spec trim it's less expensive than most of its main rivals, including the Land Rover, BMW and Audi. It’s also far less ubiquitous, so if you’re looking for a slightly more unusual SUV with a particular style and image, the Jeep may creep back on to your shortlist.
While the Cherokee has previously been available with a choice of three diesel engines, it looks like the facelifted model will get just the range-topping 2.2-litre with 192bhp. It's paired with the same nine-speed automatic gearbox as before, but benefitting from new software. This feels smooth most of the time, but isn't particularly satisfying if you use manual mode.
On the road, the Cherokee’s soft suspension leads to quite a lot of body lean and the steering is vague. Keen drivers will be happier with a BMW X3, but some people will appreciate the Jeep’s focus on comfort. That’s particularly the case when tackling rough roads and speed bumps, which the Jeep soaks up well.
Cars from US brands don’t have the best reputation for interior quality, but the Cherokee is well appointed. Materials aren't up to Audi standards, but there are some neat design touches and modern features. There’s enough room in the front and back seats for adults and the 570-litre boot can be extended to a cavernous 714 litres if you slide the rear seats forwards on their runners.
Perhaps more American in style is the huge menu of trim levels on offer, with Sport, Longitude, Limited and Overland versions, while a Trailhawk will arrive in 2019. All versions come with Bluetooth, DAB radio, air-conditioning, cruise control, rear parking sensors and either a seven or 8.4-inch touchscreen, both of which feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The range-topping Overland model is seriously luxurious, with Nappa leather, ventilated and heated seats, a large panoramic sunroof and upgraded sound system, but it costs over £40,000.
As a car to own, the Cherokee certainly isn’t without charm and appeal. The Cherokee is safe too, with a five-star score in independent Euro NCAP crash tests. However, it doesn't have the interior quality or excellent road manners of top rivals like the BMW X3, yet costs just as much in premium trims.