Road tests by motoring journalist Tim Saunders
Above: Tim Saunders with Vicki Butler-Henderson
By Tim Saunders
There is a real struggle to be different in the motoring world. Not only do the motoring journalists have to find an angle different to their peers but so to do the manufacturers.
It’s got the point where I have to sit for five minutes in the driving seat of the new Jeep Cherokee before I dare to drive off. That’s not because I don’t know how to get it started, that’s just a matter of putting your foot on the brake and pushing the start button. No, the difficulty I have is familiarising myself with the important things like how to operate the radio and the heating. While their positioning does differ from model to model I find it substantially different in the Jeep and am not comfortable trying to change radio station or the temperature while driving.
As you can see in the video at testdrives.biz there are some neat touches to this vehicle not least the striking bonnet with its chrome grille and slit eye headlights, which surprisingly throw out a good amount of light. It certainly looks the business finished in True Blue.
The black leather seats and interior could be quite dark if it were not for the enormous panoramic glass roof incorporating electric tilt/slide sunroof. But thanks to this excellent roof, high levels of light pour into the cabin.
With its nine speed automatic gearbox it is so easy to drive despite its size and manoeuvring is a sinch with the help of the reversing camera. Adaptive cruise control automatically keeps this 4x4 a safe distance from the car in front.
I have qualms. The boot is not as large as I would expect; it is not possible to transport 10 bags of logs in it, three have to go in the front. However, once the rear seats are folded there is much more space if needed. My other niggle is the fact that the reflection of the stitched dashboard can be seen in the windscreen which can be off-putting for the driver. Then there’s the digital miles per gallon reading which for me sits uncomfortably in the middle of the dashboard. I initially get confused and think this is my speed. And then there is the placement of the dial for snow, sand or sport. It is in front of the gearstick to the top left. That doesn’t sound very far away but in reality unless you are a tall American with a long arm it means that the driver has to inevitably take their eye off the road, lean over and turn the dial. Not ideal.
A neat touch is the heated steering wheel which includes since 1941 on it.
When driving at night the driver discovers that the Cherokee is fitted with headlights that will automatically go to full beam and dim when vehicles approach. There is an annoying delay when selecting full beam manually and when using the automatic function it is not infallible dipping full beam too late and sometimes too soon which can make night time driving problematic.
Overall it travels well at speed but the brakes are not as precise as I might like and it can wallow a bit at times but then it is a 4x4 so what do you expect?
Facts at a glance
New Cherokee 2.2 MultiJet 200hp 4WD 9SPD Auto Limited
Top speed: 127mph
Economy: 50mpg approx