Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Bill Buys

TRAIL­HAWK, Limited and Sport; three Jeeps, all Chero­kees, and all quite dif­fer­ent.

The to­tally re­vised new Chero­kee range has one four-cylin­der front-wheel-drive model, with the rest V6-pow­ered 4WDs with vary­ing de­grees of kit.

They're good-look­ing medi­um­sized SUVs with a rak­ish wa­ter­fall grille, scal­loped sides, sleek head and tail lights, and they turn heads wher­ever they go.

More than hand­some, those looks add to the Chero's aero­dy­nam­ics and make each model qui­eter, ap­pre­cia­bly quicker and more fuel-ef­fi­cient.

In con­trast to ear­lier Chero­kees, the new ones are well-ap­pointed, beau­ti­fully fin­ished and packed with all the elec­tron­ica du jour.

All get key­less re­mote en­try, a tilt-and-tele­scop­ing steer­ing wheel, a 60/40-split fold­ing and re­clin­ing rear seat, rearview cam­era, Blue­tooth phone and audio con­nec­tiv­ity, a good audio sys­tem with a touch­screen in­ter­face, USB/iPod in­te­gra­tion, an aux­il­iary audio in­put and an SD card reader.

Ad­di­tion­ally, a nine-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, all-in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion and uni­body con­struc­tion makes them a lot more rigid and bet­ter han­dling.

Specs in­crease with each as­cend­ing model and a long list of op- tions lets ev­ery buyer tai­lor the car to taste and needs.

The V6 mod­els get dual-zone au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol, an eight-way power driver’s seat, big­ger touch­screens and the rest of to­day’s ‘es­sen­tials’. There are lots of on­board stor­age nooks and bins and sev­eral power out­lets.

Oc­cu­pants get good seat­ing and com­fort, but the trade-off is a notso-big cargo area.

The four-pot Sport, from $33,500, uses a 2.4litre Mul­tiair sin­gle cam mo­tor that hap­pily spins into red­line ter­ri­tory and pro­duces 137kW and 232Nm.

It runs on 91 oc­tane and av­er­ages 8.2litres/100km; that's a whop­ping 33per cent more fuel- ef­fi­cient than the old Chero­kee.

The Sport is mainly for ur­ban folk who like the idea of an SUV; tall stance, com­fort, great vis­i­bil­ity and such­like. It's the city car of the trio, but it doesn't get the self­park­ing fea­ture of the V6s. Odd.

The Limited and Trail­hawk have the 200kW/316Nm 3.2litre Pen­tas­tar V6 mo­tor, which is also happy on 91 brew, and av­er­ages 10.0litres/100km.

The Limited, from $44,000, comes with a light-duty high ra­tio 4WD sys­tem and in­cludes a SelecTer­rain trac­tion con­trol dial to choose be­tween auto, snow, sport and sand/mud.

The V6 Cheros seam­lessly change from four to two-wheel drive when they sense there's no need to drive all the wheels.

For more se­ri­ous off-road work there's the Trail­hawk, at $47,500, which sits a bit taller, has 18-inch al­loys with all-sea­son tyres, raised sus­pen­sion, re­cov­ery hooks and a more ag­gres­sive 4x4 sys­tem, in­clud­ing low gear­ing and a lock­ing rear diff. It also has a ‘rock’ switch on its Se­lec-Ter­rain sys­tem. And it's the only one to get hill de­scent con­trol .

Ver­dict: A huge im­prove­ment over ear­lier Chero­kees. Good look­ing, well-fin­ished and big on smart tech­nol­ogy. The Trail­hawk is the best equipped and most hand­some of the three, almost too pretty to take off road.

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