By: IOL Motoring Staff
Knysna - Jeep's all-new Cherokee has landed in South Africa and it forges a bold new path in design and technological terms.
Built on the new ‘Compact US Wide’ platform developed in conjunction with owner Fiat, the newcomer has ditched the boxy and rugged style of its predecessor for a more aerodynamic shape, while the daring front end is sure to divert opinion.
Beneath the skin, the new Cherokee is the first mid-sized SUV to offer a nine-speed automatic gearbox and rear-axle disconnect.
SA buyers get to choose between two petrol engines: a 2.4-litre MultiAir four-cylinder unit with 130kW and 229kW on tap and a 3.2-litre Pentastar V6 that develops 200kW and 315Nm. Jeep claims combined fuel consumption figures of 8.3 litres per 100km for the 2.4 and 10.0 l/100km in the case of the 3.2.
Denis Droppa drove the V6 model at its launch in the Western Cape last week and said that it delivers good grunt and at sea level: “there are no unsatisfied power cravings, though up at Gauteng altitude the lack of turbocharging will rob these engines of some of their spiritedness.”
The new Jeep's underpinnings are more sophisticated and the suspension system, featuring a multi-link rear axle, offers an extremely compliant ride quality over a multitude of surfaces. As Droppa puts it: “The ride quality is another standout feature, particularly the way this Jeep's suspension (independent front and rear) glides contentedly over rough dirt roads.”
AT HOME IN THE BUSH
Despite the emphasis on comfort, Jeep hasn't abandoned its traditional bundu bashing clientele and the upper half of the range offers a choice between two four-wheel drive systems (the two bottom models are front-wheel drive).
The 3.2 Limited AWD features Jeep's Active Drive I system and the more hard-core Trailhawk version has the Jeep Active Drive Lock set-up.
Both systems incorporate Jeep's Selec-Terrain traction control with Auto, Snow, Sport and Sand/Mud settings while the Trailhawk adds a Rock mode.
Also setting the Trailhawk apart is a locking rear diff that improves low speed power delivery, along with a Low range that provides a 2.92:1 gear reduction for crawling through tricky terrain. Hill-ascent and Hill-descent control systems are also part of the deal.
Another area where this Jeep has made leaps and bounds is in the look and feel of the cabin. “Step inside and the previously cheap, hard plastics and five shades of grey have been replaced by a much more premium cabin with classy soft-touch surfaces, splashes of warm colour, and a German-like attention to detail,” Droppa explained.
Three interior trim choices are available and leather trim is standard on the Limited versions, while the Trailhawk offers a sportier leather/cloth combo. This and the Longitude base model can be ordered with full leather.
This Cherokee goes big on gadgets too, offering a new Wireless Charging Pad as an option and a UConnect 8.4-inch colour touchscreen audio system with 3D navigation as standard. Limited versions also gain a seven-inch reconfigurable TFT instrument cluster.
On the safety front there's a whole glut of optional gadgets available, such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop&Go, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Sport Monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection to name just a few. Seven airbags feature as standard, further cushioning a structure that helped the Cherokee earn a five-star EuroNCAP rating.
2.4 Longitude FWD - R479 990
3.2 Limited FWD - R505 990
3.2 Limited AWD - R563 990
3.2 Trailhawk 4WD - R607 990
A six-year/100 000km maintenance plan is standard on all models.