An­gry face, but sweet ride

This lat­est model is loaded with tech­no­log­i­cal good­ies, and it still thrives off-road, PETER BARN­WELL writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

OB­VI­OUSLY Jeep’s new Chero­kee is noth­ing like the pre­vi­ous ve­hi­cle, es­pe­cially in styling but also in tech­nol­ogy and many other ar­eas.

But it can still go a fair old way off road de­spite look­ing more like a peo­ple mover this time around, with an an­gry face.

To be truth­ful, we were shocked when images of this ve­hi­cle first emerged.

“What were they think­ing?’’ sprang to mind.

But now, we find the style char­ac­ter­ful and dis­tinc­tive, prob­a­bly how po­ten­tial own­ers will feel.

It sure ain’t like any­thing else on the road.

The Limited we drove is the penul­ti­mate Chero­kee at $44,000, topped only by the Trail­hawk — a tough­ened-up off-road model.

That said, the Limited is still a handy tool in the dirt — and rocks, mud, sand, snow and ice for that mat­ter. Pretty good on sealed roads, too.

They put ter­rain se­lect in it this time around, which cal­i­brates nu­mer­ous func­tions to cater for var­i­ous driv­ing ap­pli­ca­tions — just like Range Rover and Land Rover.

The 4WD sys­tem of­fers many drive op­tions, in­clud­ing low range 4WD for crawl­ing. Ground clear­ance is a handy 221mm.

A mid-size five-seater, the Chero­kee Limited is avail­able only with a 3.2-litre petrol V6 en­gine, and, like all the 4x4 new Chero­kee mod­els, a dis­con­nect­ing rear axle un­less rear drive is nec­es­sary.

We re­ally like the re­mote en­gine start that al­lows you to fire up Chero­kee on ap­proach. Should op­er­ate a lit­tle far­ther out, we reckon, though that may be tempt­ing theft.

Chero­kee has new strut and multi-link sus­pen­sion front and rear and this model rides on 18inch al­loys. Jeep paid par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to noise vi­bra­tion and harsh­ness in the new Chero­kee, with re­ward­ing re­sults.

The drive feel is aided by adaptive dampers and elec­tric steer­ing, as well as strong per­for­mance from the en­gine and chas­sis and we must ad­mit to not re­ally notic­ing the nine­speed auto in ac­tion.

Kit is gen­er­ous, with an elec­tric park brake, cruise, dual zone cli­mate con­trol, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor, re­verse cam­era, power driver and pas­sen­ger seats, auto wipers and lights, bi-xenon lights etc.

We had to eat hum­ble pie on this one.

Much bet­ter than ex­pected, goes well, OK on fuel, plenty of kit, sharp price, handy on and off road, right size, and five star safety.

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