I will be posting a detailed review of my Cherokee (built post-May 5th), covering the exterior, interior, Tech and Luxury groups, Uconnect, engine and transmission as well as a report on ride, handling and fuel efficiency. I will be posting it in several parts over the next few days, in this thread, and hope it is helpful. Here is part one.
Unlike many here, I come from a non-Jeep world. I haven’t driven a Jeep since the 80s and have only owned BMW and Audi SUVs in the past 15 years. I wanted a new small/midsize SUV for my daily drive, and have been looking for a change. Even though I looked at the Jeep Grand Cherokee previously, I wasn’t sold on its size, looks or features, but I really liked the design and characteristics of the new Cherokee. While it did not have the “luxury” cache, after testing it, I concluded that (in the top trims) it was as good, if not better, than some “luxury” brands. I also thought that the available equipment (especially the Tech group) was pretty unique, and the overall value for money was unbeatable. After test driving it, my initial concerns were squarely aimed at the reliability issues, especially the transmission problems that were well reported on JCC. In the end, it came down to the Cherokee and the newly redesigned 2015 X3 and, even though I like the BMW’s ride and handling, I opted for the Cherokee.
My idea of off-road driving is taking dirt roads to the cottage or the lake on weekends, and my main concern was to keep me and my family in a comfortable, safe and reasonably luxurious environment on the paved roads, not dirt tracks. For this reason, I went with the Limited V6 ADI (personally I found the ADII ride a bit harsh and for the same reasons didn’t seriously consider the TH), with virtually all the options except the towing package (Tech, Luxury, Sunroof, CD, 9 Speaker Sound, 8.4AN..). FWIW, I also loved the Cherry Red color. I am not sure if it can be called mid-life crisis
, but a number of people commented how I had the “cojones” to drive a red car! My Limited was built on May 7th, right after the latest “fixes” to the transmission software, and I have clocked nearly 2,000 Miles on it. I am posting some pictures below as well.
Contrary to the many critics, I thought from the start that Jeep took a bold gamble on the design that, at least for me, was guaranteed to be a huge success. As one of the designers said, “we wanted to make the design look good in 2020 as well as in 2014”, and I think that they succeeded. Even though I am not a Jeep loyalist, I actually find the design to be a perfect modern take on the design of the classic Jeep Cherokees and other Jeep vehicles. As many have commented here, the more someone looks at this vehicle, the more they warm up to its design (a co-worker who was shocked with my choice initially, has just ordered a Cherokee for herself
). I know that some here do not like the chrome on the Limited but I think it actually accentuates the positive design cues. Rugged Luxury or Rugged Elegance seems to me the best way to describe this Cherokee. If there is one part that could have been finished better, it is the rear of the vehicle. I have now gotten used to it, and actually don’t mind the design, but I still think that to some extent it remains an unfinished canvas! The other comment (and I will be making a few of those in this review) is that Jeep should have upped the price on the top trims and options and included some equipment that is both expected and even available on Cherokees outside North America. Specifically, on the exterior, headlight washers, shark fin antenna and power-folding side mirrors should have all been included in the Luxury package or at least available at an extra cost for the Limited and the TH.
The interior has been well finished and frankly IMHO is as good as most luxury SUV interiors. The seats are comfortable, the driver’s seat is easily adjustable (including lumbar support), if not very supportive for sporty driving
, and the overall instrument cluster is one of the best available (I will deal with Uconnect in a separate section). On several long trips (250+ Miles) I found the Cherokee to be easy on the occupants’ anatomy, and very comfortable. The cabin is spacious (and feels even more so, with the sunroof shade open) and has enough storage space, although whoever designed the door storage pockets to only take cups and bottles, should go back to design school. There are a few cheaper-looking plastics on the bottom of the cabin but, taking into account the heritage of Jeep, I did not think that it really took away from the “rugged” look that it was going for. The wood trim on the door looked better in person than in pictures but my suggestion to the designers is to, either get rid of it altogether, or add more wood trim on the dashboard – the way it is now, it does look like a little bit of an afterthought. Back seating is comfortable and the recline and slide functions nicely complement the overall look and functionality. Interior recess lighting for the music connection, cupholder and footwell, the 110 V outlet and the large EVIC screen are all nice touches and feel luxurious. The steering wheel and the shifter are “beefy” and provide a solid feel, and the overall impact on the driver, sitting in the cabin is of a very solidly built vehicle. I have already commented in other threads that, while the Cherokee has 400-500 lbs more than its mainstream competitors, it is on par with the likes of X3, Q5 and GLK and uses the extra weight to deliver a silent cabin, smooth ride and the feeling of solidity, as well as the off-road capability. Fuel efficiency is another matter, but more about that later.
Since I have the luxury package, I will discuss that separately, including some ideas on making it better. For now, I will just agree with many here, that having incandescent (instead of LED) bulbs on the inside lighting and sunvisor unnecessarily degrades the overall look of the Cherokee. While I know it is a relatively easy fix (although I have yet to get around to doing it
), not having the LEDs on the top trims is just not a good marketing move on Jeep’s part. Note to Jeep designers and marketers – please add $50 to the Limited/TH price and put LED bulbs everywhere. The interior storage is generally well thought out, although this vehicle is not for those who love to haul cargo! Coming from the SUVs I had, I actually found the trunk adequate and comparable to BMW and Audi, but I can see how some may find it too small.
(Next – Technology Group)