We always love the opportunity to have a week with a Jeep product, especially the mid-sized Cherokee SUV as it is so easy to get around in. That being said, we had a chance to take a quick trip on a Friday night for dinner in Salt Lake City.
The Limited trim of the Cherokee comes with all kinds of safety features, along with radar or adaptive cruise control that allows the SUV to actually come to a complete stop and then continue again coming back up to speed or at least to the speed of the vehicle in front of us.
It had been a while since we drove the madness of I-15 to the Salt Lake Valley on a Friday night, and now we know why we try and stay around home for our culinary delights on a Friday as the road was packed somewhat like a can of sardines.
We could have gotten off and tried our luck up over the mountain ridge route but decided it would be a good test for the Jeep in real stop and go traffic that was averaging anywhere from completely stopped to every now and again up to 40 mph.
With the adaptive cruise set before we hit the heavy traffic, the Jeep slowed to complete stop as we came upon it. I did keep my foot positioned above the brake just in case. Even though we have been saved from accidents and have become accustomed to this type of technology, it is still very hard to rely completely on the vehicle to take care of the braking.
Not only did the Cherokee come to a complete stop all on its own, it continued to stop and go as traffic ebbed and flowed in front of us for 13 miles and about 30 minutes of being caught in the Friday rush-to-get-home traffic.
Only once did it ask me for some help with the braking, and it was quite evident with all the bells and flashing dashboard encouraging me to comply, without having to give much thought to the process I did use the brakes.
We did have to question, however, if some people might become too dependent on the SUV to complete the drive — not only would it hold the speed in check with the vehicle in front of us, it would also try and keep us in our own lane if needed. The technology is great and we 100% agree with its addition into any vehicle, but one still has to keep an eye on the road even when traffic is heavy and going is slow. As we came to find out the Jeep may have performed exceptionally well, but it still can’t outguess the other drivers on the road.
Technology aside, we need to point out that the Cherokee is still a Jeep, maybe not in the true Wrangler sense of that word, but it has all the DNA that Jeep now has to offer. In fact, it is probably the most capable four-wheel drive small SUV on the market when it comes to getting off road.
There is a new engine that the engineers at Jeep have put in to the mix this year that being a four-cylinder inline direct injected turbocharged version that is good for 270 horsepower, just one less than that of the V-6 that our test ride came with. The smaller engine however puts forth much more torque at 295 ft.-lbs. compared to the 239 of the V-6 model.
Having tested the smaller motor previously it was hard for us to see much difference. Coupled with the nine-speed transmission that seamlessly slides through the gears on pavement is the ability for the driver to choose from six different terrain settings: Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud and Rock.
Of course it would not be a Jeep without a crawl control of up to a 51.2:1 ratio, in essence this will keep the SUV at under 1 mile per hour when going down or up a steep incline, doing all the work to get over pretty much any terrain. Many of the places we would take this new Cherokee we would never dream of taking any other competitor in this same category.
The best part of the Cherokee is that is has much better on-road manners than that of a true Wrangler, especially if a soft top is involved. On a pure comfort side, we would put the limited version we drove up against any of the competition, which is great for families and even empty nesters like ourselves where comfort is a major concern. However being able to tackle most of the trails in Moab did have its own appeal to us, even if we never went off road to the extreme, just knowing our SUV had the ability would play a part in our decision making.
It was equipped with leather seating surfaces, which were both heated and cooled, along with a heated steering wheel, which we were able to take advantage of on some of the cool mornings. The new Uconnect 8.4-inch high definition touch screen that FCA is putting in its vehicles now is amazing and functions so well with pinch and zoom, it is just like having an iPad in the dashboard, with high definition using the backup camera displays crystal clear detail.
With the addition of a 7-inch LED screen between the speedometer and tachometer that is fully configurable, FCA has really hit a home run allowing any driver to give his own experience a very personal touch. Everything can also be run from the steering wheel controls or through voice functions.
Outside the Cherokee is still all Jeep with the same grill features holding true to the original Jeep look however with new LED headlamps and a sleek modern design, it exudes a luxurious element giving it a warmer feel with softer lines all around.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard equipment in fact upon hooking up our phones part of the process included speaking with Siri to make sure she would work through the Cherokee’s speaker system.
The newly refreshed Cherokee is great to look at and even better to be behind the wheel. It would make a great addition to any family not matter what their age, in fact our son Landon and his wife have a 2016 Cherokee for an everyday driver. It works great and our 5-year-old grandson Jensen climbs in and out with ease and loves making the tailgate go up and down with the push button.
Base price: $34,445
Price as driven: $41,620