2018 Jeep Cherokee

Although it looks familiar, the Cherokee now boasts greater safety equipment and driver aids, including frontal collision warning, autonomous emergency braking (including pedestrian identification) blind-spot warning, lane departure warning and rear-cross traffic warning.

Jeep acknowledges that safety is the new sexy, and that’s why this upgrade is so focussed on that area. The new range has a choice of two petrol engines, four trim levels and off-road capabilities ranging from none to plenty.

The entry-level engine is a four-cylinder that measures 2.4-litres and makes 130kW of power and 229Nm of torque. It uses MultiAir variable-valve timing technology as well as internal weight reductions and a cooling system aimed at faster warm-ups for reduced emissions and fuel consumption.

The V6 engine is a 3.2-litre unit making 200kW and 315Nm of torque and features a variable-displacement oil pump to improve efficiency.

Both engines are teamed with the same nine-speed automatic transmission.

The range kicks off with the Cherokee Sport which gets the four-cylinder engine and is front-wheel-drive, so despite its ride height and chunky appearance, it’s no off-roader. It gets Bluetooth, a reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android connectivity, 17-inch alloys and the new raft of safety features.

An official fuel consumption figure of 8.5 litres per 100km leads the way in the new Cherokee range.

The next step up the ladder is the Longitude which gains the V6 engine and an all-wheel-drive system that operates as a front-drive until the vehicle detects a loss of traction, at which point the rear axle is engaged.

Over and above the Sport’s standard equipment, the Longitude adds the extra driven axle, electric front seats, parking sensors, dual-zone climate-control, a hands-free power tailgate, keyless entry and start, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights.

From there, it becomes a choice of refinement or off-road ability.

That means either the Limited with its higher standard equipment or the Trailhawk where your money goes in the sort of hardware that will get you seriously off-road.

The Limited gets the same all-wheel-drive system and mechanical package as the Longitude, but gains a more luxurious leather interior, 18-inch alloys, a bigger touch-screen, sat-nav, park-assist, adaptive cruise-control, memory seats and mirrors, heated and ventilated front seats and a superior stereo system.

It also has a higher ride-height, a locking rear differential, 17-inch off-road biased wheels and tyres, recovery hooks, skid plates, and much the same level of luxury kit as the Limited.

For now, Jeep is concentrating on the Limited and Trailhawk models and will launch them first on October 1.

From there, it will introduce the base-model Sport and the Longitude some time after that, but nobody’s saying exactly when.

The new look is a welcome change from the rather polarising appearance of the previous version, but the Cherokee is still a pretty startling looker.

Some will like it, others not so much, but Jeep reckons the new face will not be the turn-off for some that the old was.

Inside, there’s a step up in the perception of quality and the bigger touch-screen of the upmarket models looks good and works well.

Jeep now claims the load area will know swallow a set of golf clubs and while the rear-seat knee-room is fairly generous, the optional sunroof cuts deeply into head-room in the back.

We’re inclined to think the facelifted Cherokee is a bit quieter inside than its predecessor, but the electric power-steering is light and lacks feel in some situations.

Jeep has made much of the improvements to its transmission for the Cherokee and the previous unit was widely criticised for being indecisive and unpredictable. And while the new unit is better, it still seems a little inconsistent in terms of its responses to driver inputs.

Often we found the transmission kicking down one or two ratios more than it needed to (or we expected it to) while other times the response was exactly what we were expecting.

Overall, it still feels like there are simply too many gears in there for the vehicle to make a consistent choice on which one to use.

The V6 is nice and torquey, but not the smoothest we’ve experienced, however that low-down urge means you don’t often have to rev it hard to make progress.

When you (or the transmission) do make it sing, it does get a bit vocal and feels a little strained up high.

There’s no doubt that it provides enough punch, including for off-road work where the electronics do a mighty job of maintaining forward motion in slippery or steep going.

That’s especially true of the Trailhawk with its greater clearance and more hard-core driveline, and it remains that we’re struggling to think of another SUV in this price-range and size that would offer anything like the sort of off-road ability the Cherokee provides.

And if that’s your thing, then the facelifted Jeep (the Trailhawk in particular) is definitely worth a look and, crucially, a test drive.

If the vehicle is going to be more SUV than off-roader then there’s a bigger, deeper pool of competition aiming for the same consumer dollar.

Want one of your own? Call us on  (02) 8545 8888.

Sourced Drive.