Jeep Cherokee 2.2 MultiJet 2015 Road Test

The 2014 launch of the latest Jeep Cherokee was met with mixed reviews: winning praise for its bold styling, generous spec and comfortable cabin. But coming in for criticism for its sluggish engines and unrewarding drive.

The negative feedback has prompted Jeep – which is now part of Fiat – to introduce some important improvements. The biggest of which is a new 2.2-litre diesel engine with more power and improved fuel economy compared to the lambasted old 2.0-litre.

Equipment levels for the 2.2-litre MultiJet are also better, with all models getting an electric tailgate, electrically adjustable front seats and automatic wipers and headlights as standard. Will the improvements give the Cherokee the necessary qualities to rival Audi, BMW and Land Rover? 

The Jeep certainly matches its upmarket rivals on price, with 2.2 MiltiJet models starting at £30,000 for the 185PS version and rising to almost £37,000 for the range-topping 200PS. That puts the Cherokee in some notable company, with the Q5, Discovery Sport and X3 all falling within the same price range.  

Jeep _Cheroke2

The improvement to the engine is immediately evident from start-up, with the 2.2-litre diesel being less noisy and giving smoother acceleration. All 2.2 diesels get a nine-speed automatic as standard, along with Jeep's proven four-wheel drive system. As a result the Cherokee provides a firm footing in the worst of winter weathers, regardless if you're on or off the road. 

Both versions of the four-cylinder engine pull strongly, with 440Nm of peak torque and a caravan-friendly towing capacity of 2.5 tonnes. Even the 0-62mph sprint can be completed in less than nine seconds, while the nine speed auto box has been tweaked to provide smooth changes.

Running costs are lower and almost identical to the Audi Q5, with the 185PS version returning a claimed 49.5mpg and 150g/km of CO2. Even the 200PS version is on par with the Q5 and Discovery Sport, with an official 49.6mpg and 150g/km. It also comes close to matching both for straight line performance. Indeed, economy and performance for the 2.2-litre diesel are good, but there are some aspects of the Cherokee that disappoint, notably refinement, handling and interior quality. 

The Cherokee is not a rewarding SUV to drive, with its soft ride providing comfort over rough surfaces, but pitching heavily in the corners. The steering is also something of a conundrum, with inconsistent weighting that makes it difficult to judge how much turn is required to navigate corners or exit tight junctions. As a result the Cherokee is a car that requires constant correction at all speeds, while its high levels of road and engine noise add to its general disquiet. 

Jeep _Cherokee _3

One area that distinguishes upmarket SUVs is the quality of the cabin, with Audi, BMW and Land Rover being almost recognisable by their respective interiors alone. While the Cherokee is a huge improvement over its crude predecessor, with lots of soft-touch materials and a modern dashboard layout, it still lacks the high class materials or individual touches that distinguish its rivals.

The interior is comfortable enough, with lots of head and leg room in the front and back, but the dashboard design and layout feel bland and nondescript. The chunky plastics and large dials also feel mundane, while the large button on the automatic gear shifter has a tendency to painfully trap the edge of fingers in the switch mechanism. 

The boot doesn't feel as large as the official 591-litre figure suggests either, although the wide opening and low floor make it easy to load items into it. Likewise, the underfloor storage and hooks are useful for hiding valuables or carrying the weekly shop.

Jeep has made huge strides with the Cherokee and the 2.2 diesel makes it more competitive with better power and fuel economy. However, while the Cherokee's arguably the best model to ever carry the badge, it still feels comprehensively outclassed by its rivals. 

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