Ver­sa­tile Jeep rules roads and ravines

Macclesfield Express - - MOTORING -

THOSE who saw last week’s Mo­tors will know I got to go to the Utah desert and try out Jeep’s latest of­fer­ing, the new Cherokee Trail­hawk… and very im­pres­sive it was too.

But it is all very well do­ing a moun­tain goat im­pres­sion over huge boul­ders and ravines in the blis­ter­ing heat of a rocky Amer­i­can waste­land… how would the state­side 4x4 cope with the mean streets of Greater Manch­ester?

Well, in an at­tempt to be as thor­ough as pos­si­ble, I spent a week with the 2015 Cherokee on the some­what cooler (and a bit wet­ter) roads of our fair city on my re­turn from the US.

And the first thing I no­ticed was that, even though my UK car was black and the US one white, the Cherokee some­how looked a lot big­ger over here.

Although one thing was def­i­nitely smaller as my UK test car was the 2.0-litre Lim­ited diesel while in Utah I was rid­ing the range at the wheel of the V6, 268-bhp 3.2-litre petrol Trail­hawk ver­sion.

How­ever, apart from Jeep’s ter­rific Ac­tive Drive Lock sys­tem for ex­treme off-road driv­ing on the Trail­hawk, the cars were oth­er­wise iden­ti­cal 4x4s.

Part of the test this time was a long mo­tor­way round trip of al­most 500 miles to take Her In­doors for a week­end stay at a su­per Sur­rey coun­try­side pub. It could not have been more dif­fer­ent from the ex­treme off-road­ing over huge boul­ders and dried-up river beds of the week be­fore, yet again the Cherokee proved more than up to the chal­lenge.

Mind you, I wish in the desert I had found the switch for one of the car’s party tricks – heated AND cooled seats up front… although it was still re­fresh­ing on a warm mo­tor­way to have your lower re­gions chilled out.

Another as­pect of the 2015 Cherokee I found par­tic­u­larly good was the big, cen­tral touch screen to op­er­ate ev­ery­thing from those seats through ve­hi­cle set­tings, au­dio con­trols and a very easy to use sat-nav sys­tem.

And I was glad we were in the 2.0 diesel model as it can top 50mpg on a long run com­pared to the V6 petrol which re­turns some 20mpg less.

Over the long week­end to the North Downs I av­er­aged al­most 48mpg with no at­tempt at econ­omy driv­ing – so for once a man­u­fac­turer’s fuel con­sump­tion claims do not seem wildly op­ti­mistic.

In fact, con­sid­er­ing it is a per­ma­nent 4x4 sys­tem, fuel con­sump­tion on the latest Cherokee is very good (es­pe­cially com­pared to my old De­fender at half that fig­ure) and even bet­ter if you can do with­out drive on ev­ery wheel as the 2WD en­try level model claims to get 53mpg plus.

Also much ap­pre­ci­ated by my VIP pas­sen­ger was the full-length glass sun­roof which has an open­ing front sec­tion.

This Cherokee is the latest in a long line of mod­els go­ing back to the late 1980s in the UK and the first mod­els are now be­com­ing pop­u­lar with the hard-core off-road fra­ter­nity. A mod­ded mid 90s model is cur­rently high on my wish list for the big boy’s toy box.

This latest ver­sion has proved as com­pe­tent on road as off over my two very dif­fer­ent test ad­ven­tures and it has to be said that it is also a win­ner on price. The range starts at just over £26,000 on-the-road for the FWD 2.0 diesel Lon­gi­tude 140 six-speed man­ual up to £33,810 for the 2.0 diesel Lim­ited 170 4x4 nine­speed auto.

The ex­treme off-road ready V6 Trail­hawk is £34,865 while for the re­ally brave (and with deeper wal­lets) Jeep of­fer an SRT Red Va­por ver­sion with a 6.4-litre HEMI V8 throw­ing out 461bhp at £65,615 o.t.r – which is al­most Range Rover ter­ri­tory but it will do 0-62 in just FIVE sec­onds and is lim­ited to a 160mph top speed.

Find out more at www. jeep.co.uk.

●● The strik­ing 2015 Jeep Cherokee’s 2.0 litre diesel can do over 50mpg and, be­low, your Mo­tors team puts the Trail­hawk ver­sion through its paces in the Utah desert

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