2018 Jeep Cherokee Review
Stuart Martin’s 2018 Jeep Cherokee Review with Price, Specs, Performance, Ride and Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict and Score.
In a nutshell: A safety upgrade, retained 4WD ability and revamped exterior are the highlights for Jeep’s new Cherokee, the latter being critical to improving the appeal of the American mid-sized SUV when it goes on sale in October.
2018 Jeep Cherokee Specifications
Price Sport from $35,950+ORC, Longitude from $41,950+ORC, Limited from $46,950+ORC, Trailhawk from $48,450+ORC Warranty five years/100,000km Service Intervals 12 months/12,000km capped-price for five years Safety Front Collision Warning Plus with Pedestrian Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Path Detection as well as Lane Departure Warning Plus, seven airbags, five-star ANCAP Engine 2.4-litre in-line four-cylinder; 3.2-litre 24-valve V6 engine Power 130kW; 200kW Torque 229Nm; 315Nm Transmission nine-speed auto Drive Sport – front-wheel drive; Longitude and Limited – all-wheel drive; Trailhawk – dual-range 4WD with a locking rear differential Dimensions Length 4651mm, width 1859mm, height 1680mm (3.2 1683mm, Trailhawk 1724mm), wheelbase 2705mm (3.2 2707mm, Trailhawk 2720mm) Ground Clearance 185mm (Trailhawk 221mm) Angles Approach Sport 16.7/Longtitude & Limited 18.9/ Trailhawk 29.9; departure 17.7/19.5/22.9; break-over 24.6/25/32.2; wading depth 405mm; Trailhawk 480mm. Towing 2.4 1500kg; 3.2 2200kg Towball Download 2.4 200kg; 3.2 220kg GVM 2.4 2290kg; 3.2 2458kg (Trailhawk 2494kg) GCM 2.4 3640kg; 3.2 4438kg (Trailhawk 4474kg) Boot Space 781 litres Spare full-size steel Fuel Tank 60 litres Thirst 8.5/9.8/10.2 l/100km combined
The American off-roading icon has smoothed the skin and improved the value of its revamped Cherokee, to give the only proper off-roader in the class a chance to make a real (and needed) sales impact. There’s no diesel on the model mix as yet, although the Australian arm is monitoring demand for other power plants; it said it wanted to streamline the model line-up to keep it simple.
The polarising looks of the outgoing car have been significantly refreshed, with an all-new front exterior that falls more into line with the rest of the updated Jeep family.
It needed to, given the snout in particular was one of the main reasons for rejecting the Cherokee – it now has new headlights are bi-LED projector headlamps, with DRLs, as well as reshaped tail lights and revamped rear tailgate.
What’s in the range and how much does it cost?
The entry-level Sport starts from $35,950+ORC (unchanged) but is only offered with the 130kW/229Nm 2.4-litre petrol engine delivering to the front wheels via the nine-speed auto.
Standard fare includes a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and also displaying the images from the reversing camera. A leather-wrapped steering wheel, LED headlights (both beams), as well as LEDs for the daytime running and tail lights, 17-inch alloys, manual air conditioning, power-folding heated exterior mirrors, black roof rails and floor mats are also among the standard features. Jeep says the extra standard safety gear and features adds around $4000 in value to the entry-level Sport.
Stepping up to the Longitude sees a price rise of $500 to start from $41,950, which adds all-wheel drive and installs the 200kW/315Nm 3.2-litre V6 under the snout. The features list grows to include the Selec-Terrain system to tailor the drive to the surface beneath the 17-inch alloy wheels. Dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, power-adjustable front seats, rear parking sensors, powered handsfree tailgate, keyless entry and ignition, automatic headlights and paddle shifters on the steering wheel are among the features over and above the Sport.
The Longitude boasts an extra $4500 of features for the price increase but can be upgraded with a $1650 option pack that adds adaptive cruise control, side distance warning and auto-parking systems.
Top billing for the updated Cherokee range is shared by the Limited and Trailhawk (pictured throughout) – the Limited is priced from $46,950 – a $1000 jump but with a claimed $6500 of extra gear. The features list has 18-inch alloys, an 8.4-inch touchscreen, leather trim, heated and ventilated front seats, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam, nine-speaker Alpine sound system and upgraded instrument panel.
Options are few – a panoramic sunroof for $2200 and 18-Inch polished/painted alloy wheels add $950.
Jeep has dropped the Trailhawk’s price tag by $1500 to $48,450+ORC but claims $3500 of extra value in the features list, top of the list being the dual-range transfer case for the 4WD system, rear diff lock, extra underbody protection, hill descent control, more clearance and more surface options (it adds a Rock mode) on the Selec-Terrain system. Its nose and tail are cut for better approach and departure angles, although the rear muffler looks a little exposed beneath the tail.
The Trailhawk also gets satellite navigation, the leather /cloth trimmed seats, automatic high beam, rubber floor mats; options include the $2200 sunroof and a Trailhawk Premium Package for $2950 which enables the second row to slide fore and aft, as well as adding among other things front seat heaters and coolers, an alarm, leather-trimmed seats (standard on the predecessor), black-painted 17-inch alloys and adaptive cruise control.
What’s the interior and practicality like?
The cabin feel in the Limited and Trailhawk (when upgraded with the optional pack) is quality for its materials, with soft-touch dash trims and comfortable leather seats.
Head and leg room up front is adequate for length but a bit snug for width, but not to the extent of feeling hemmed in by the door or the transmission tunnel. The lack of a footrest for the under-used left hoof is an oversight and trying to find a comfortable spot for it results in brushing the exposed steering column.
In-cabin storage is good without being cavernous, with some oddment storage in the doors and centre console (one of which wasn’t bolted down as tightly as it should have been); more space has been liberated beneath the climate controls for phone and device storage near the USB inputs.
Rear leg room behind my own 191cm driving position is adequate, with knees splayed either side of the backrest, but the headroom was significantly eroded by the panoramic sunroof. The back seat does get access to two USB ports and has vents from the climate control system.
Rear cargo capacity has also been increased from 697 to 781 litres by improvements in width (enough to get a golf bag across the rear, says Jeep) and now totals more than 27 cubic feet, as well as offering additional storage space around the full-some spare beneath the floor.
What are the controls and infotainment like?
It’s a busy cabin in either of the top-spec models driven at the launch, with the latest incarnation of the brand’s Uconnect system controlled much of the car’s functions.
A seven-inch screen is standard on the Sport, or the top-spec models driven at the launch both get the 8.4-inch version with Uconnect, with integrated sat nav as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for full smartphone integration. Bluetooth phone and audio link is also on offer, as well as digital radio reception and USB inputs, all piped out in the Limited and Trailhawk via a nine-speaker Alpine sound system.
The infotainment system is also smart enough to offer the driver a choice without the smartphone system riding roughshod over all other functions; the touchscreen also offers a menu bar that can be tailored by ‘drag’n’drop.’
What’s the performance like?
Only the 3.2-litre V6 was offered on the launch drive and the smaller V6 of the Pentastar family offers more than adequate performance for the near-two-tonne wagon. Flexible but preferring the top half of the tacho if brisk-or-more performance is required, there’s little hesitation from the naturally-aspirated V6 before it hits its stride in a smooth and enthusiastic manner.
Teamed with a nine-speed auto, there’s some sporadic indecision from the transmission if moderate throttle pressure is deployed; a proper stomp of the right foot makes more definitive demands and the Cherokee’s nine-speed auto responds appropriately.
Fuel economy claims for the V6 hover around the 10 litres per 100km on the ADR combined-cycle test and the launch drive saw similar numbers on the trip computer after the open-road section.
While the same can’t be said for the fuel use in the forest, the return run in the Trailhawk on the highway, with off-road work still figuring in the trip computer’s calculations, had sub-teen numbers on the screen.
What’s it like on the road?
The ride quality is on the firm side of comfortable in the first model sampled, the Limited, which is unsurprising given the Sport aspect of the SUV acronym has become more in demand by some than the Utility of such wagons.
Refinement and noise suppression are two areas in which Jeep focussed its time and the work has paid off, with the updated Cherokee smoother and quieter than the superseded vehicle.
There’s little about which to complain in terms of ride quality wither, except perhaps a thought of running a few less Psi in the tyres to take the edge off its fidgeting over smaller bumps.
The Trailhawk’s 17-in 245/65 tyre package and altered underpinnings are more attuned to the posterior comfort factor and demonstrate as much on the short bitumen transport stage.
What’s it like off the road?
Both models were sampled in the bush north-east of Melbourne, where the Limited was subjected to a shorter dirt road loop with less in the way of rocks, ruts and holes.
Leading with its chin, the on-road Cherokee is more susceptible to damaging the lower front splitter designed for higher-speed driving. It manages to negotiate muddy tracks without concern but feels a little squeamish as the 18-in 225/55 road rubber deals with loose surfaces.
Switching to the Trailhawk adds low range (a unique feature in this segment), a rear diff lock, recovery hooks, more clearance and better bumper profiles, all of which resulted in less noise coming from beneath on the rougher stuff.
Engaging Rock mode, low range but leaving the rear diff lock alone as the restyled nose was directed up a rocky, shale-ridden and sporadically-muddy ascent, the Cherokee scampered up without serious hesitation, slowing only briefly as the traction control systems groan and pinch the brakes on spinning wheels.
Ground clearance grows from the Limited’s 185mm to 221mm on the Trailhawk, which is a more reassuring height from the rocks and ruts, with extra underbody protection and the steeper nose, all of which added up to a level of off-road ability that is unmatched in the segment.
Does it have a spare?
Yes, it has a full-size steel spare stowed beneath the boot floor, with some storage space around it.
Can you tow with it?
A braked towing capacity of 1500kg is listed for the 2.4-litre four-cylinder and 2200kg for the V6, with 200kg of download on the former and 220kg on the latter. The stability control system is also endowed with a trailer sway control function.
What about ownership?
Jeep has a five-year/100,000km warranty coverage, with the same timeframe covering its capped price servicing program. There’s also a lifetime roadside assistance program that is conditional on the vehicle being serviced by and authorised Jeep dealer; after the warranty period expires, Jeep says the scheduled maintenance must be conducted through a Jeep Authorised Dealership at manufacturer specified intervals to maintain the lifetime roadside assist program.
What safety features does it have?
Jeep expects the Cherokee to retain its five-star ANCAP rating thanks to the inclusion of active forward collision warning and pedestrian emergency braking systems, although under which testing regime remains to be seen.
There’s also lane departure warning, a reversing camera, seven airbags (the usual six plus one for the driver’s knees) and rear cross traffic warning as standard. Blind spot warning, tyre pressure monitoring, traction and stability control are also standard. Among the other safety features on offer as the price tag increases are front and rear parking sensors, auto parking and un-parking, side sensors and adaptive cruise control.
As the new model was launched, the ACCC issued a recall notice for 178 vehicles to undergo a brake fluid flush – all 178 vehicles were still in FCA Australia’s custody and had yet to make it to dealers or customers and will have the work completed in the course of pre-delivery maintenance.