2015 Jeep Cherokee
Take that Old Man Winter
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – The late night newscast started with the weather and the charts were all bad. A grim faced forecaster said by morning there would be 6 to 8 inches of the white stuff on the ground and more to follow along with some gusty winds.
The anchors said schools were likely to be closed and the morning commute, if there was one, would be a mess.
Husband talks about calling the boss and saying how he can’t possibly make it in and then dreaming of an extra 40 winks and a super lazy day around the house.
Oops! His wife quickly reminds him of how he bragged to his fellow workers for weeks about getting a Jeep Cherokee 4×4 last summer and how he will be able to get through just about anything while his colleagues are stuck in snow banks awaiting the arrival of a tow truck.
You see with this go anywhere, anytime, Jeep your chances of coping a snow day just went south, as it were.
The upside to the Cherokee is almost everything else such as its compact size, excellent list of amenities, a responsive V6, and an aggressive exterior design.
Unlike bare bones Jeeps of the past, the 2016 Limited model tested this week brought a long list of upscale options such GPS navigation, HD radio with 9 speakers and subwoofer, 8.4 inch touchscreen display, heated 8-way adjustable power driver’s seat with 4-way adjustments on the passenger side. For drives deep into the woods, the Limited came with an off-road suspension, Hill Descent Control, and enough other equipment to make sure you make it back to the Big Box store in time for their midnight holiday specials.
Not to overlook Jeeps Selec-Terrain dial that optimizes the 4-wheel drive to the condition you are faced with – Auto, Snow, Sport, and Sand/Mud are a click away. Four more reasons your office is attainable.
Yet for all its off-road capability, the Jeep proved to be an excellent errand runner thanks to its size, about six inches shorter than a Honda CR-V, for instance. Moderate weekend expenditures to the warehouse size hardware store were easy to load and the front passenger seat folds for even more cargo consumption. I missed the power liftgate option. Yet total cargo space is below some of the competition at 54.9 cubic feet.
A long day on the interstates was a dream thanks to the very comfortable front seats, perhaps the best I have experienced in this type of vehicle. I missed them in the next Jeep, the Renegade, but more on that later.
I would recommend the 3.2 liter V6 on the test vehicle over the standard equipment 2.4 liter four that makes the Cherokee a bit sluggish. The V6, a 271 horsepower unit with 239 lb-ft of torque adds needed zest to the Cherokee, but the nine speed transmission does not.
It frequently was hunting for the right gear and some downshifts were not smooth. On the interstates, a good swift jab with the right foot was required to make a quick passing move. It seems to me that a tried and true six speed automatic would do a better job here.
Pot holes and other imperfections are already showing up on Maryland roads, and despite what you may think, the Jeep was not a rough rider at all. It took all the bumps in stride and had a solid feel about it.
The top-of-the-line Limited model with the V6 is EPA rated at 22 mpg overall, 19 in the city, and 26 on the highway. For the week, I registered 21 mpg. A demerit or two for the start/stop feature that frankly I found irritating. Fortunately it can be defeated with the push of a button.
Safety equipment? It had lots of it. Blind Spot and Cross Path Protection, Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Rain Sensitive Wipers, and Lane Departure Warning, all part of a $1,495 Safety Tec Group.
The V6 added $1,745 to the price, off road traction items were $995 along with a few other features that brought the MSRP to $38,360.
That brings to your driveway a refined, (except for the transmission,) right sized vehicle that laughs at snow, mud, potholes, and instills in the driver the urge to go hunting on weekends for some otherwise unattainable off road trails. “Honey, about that weekend log cabin I have always longed for.”
All this as you are surrounded by a posh interior complimented by an excellent sound system.
For there is nothing like Rachmaninoff when you are taking on the rocks.