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Driven: Jeep gives Cherokee mid-life makeover

New-look Jeep Cherokee expected to address polarising style of previous model

31 Aug 2018

JEEP Australia will release its facelifted Cherokee mid-size SUV in October with slight price changes across the four-variant line-up, launching with the higher-spec Limited and Trailhawk before rolling out the entry-level Sport and Longitude in the coming months.
Kicking off at an unchanged $35,950 before on-roads, the front-drive Sport grade is powered by a 130kW/229Nm 2.4-litre Tigershark petrol engine, while the 200kW/315Nm 3.2-litre Pentastar V6-powered Longitude creeps up $500 to $41,950.
The Limited is up $1000 to $46,950 and the flagship Trailhawk is down $1500 to $48,450 – both powered by the 3.2-litre V6 petrol unit that can tow 2200kg.
Both carryover engines are paired with an upgraded TorqueFlite nine-speed automatic transmission, with Longitude and Limited versions sporting all-wheel drive, and Trailhawk vehicles featuring four-wheel drive.
However, it is the new-look front fascia that addresses the most visible criticism of the outgoing Cherokee – the polarising split-headlight design.
Now wearing a more traditional front lighting signature and tweaked aesthetics that keeps the Cherokee more in line with the styling of its Grand Cherokee stablemate and Compass small SUV sibling, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia head of Jeep brand Guillaume Drelon said the new styling will be less divisive. 
“What I think is (the outgoing version’s styling) was either ‘I like it’ or ‘I hate it’ … but at the end what we’ve seen so far in all our research, is that the top reason for buying, and the top reason for not buying, was the design,” he said.
“I’m not sure it was the biggest concern (of the outgoing Cherokee) … do you want everybody to have the same car? Probably not, and that is the reason why we are on the market, I guess we have a different product proposition.
“And I think this design is really nicely executed to bring something nice into the family.”
While the updated styling is expected to draw more customers to the Jeep Cherokee, Mr Drelon would not be drawn on sales expectations, or whether the new model could top the 6156 year-end record from 2015.
“I will not speak about volumes, what I will say is I think the current Cherokee has been a bit forgotten by the market and I think it is not deserved because the product is a great package, and by bringing this new edition is a great opportunity (for more visibility),” he said.
Jeep has sold just 324 Cherokees to the end of July this year, a drastic 59 per cent drop over the same period last year.
Hoping to capitalise on Australia’s SUV preference, Jeep has equipped the new Cherokee with higher levels of safety equipment and increased in-cabin refinement.
High-gloss Piano Black and Satin Chrome highlights now adorn the interior, as well as soft-touch vinyl materials on the doors, armrest and upper instrument panel, while a redesigned centre console includes a larger front storage pocket.
As standard, the new American-built Cherokee gains a 7.0-inch Uconnect infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and voice command compatibility, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, electronic idle-stop, 70-litre larger boot, and power-folding exterior mirrors.
Safety-wise, Jeep has fitted the updated Cherokee with autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, reversing camera with rear cross-path detection and automatic headlights.
Externally, the Cherokee is also treated to LED head-, tail- and daytime running lights, as well as gloss-black roof rails and new-look 17-inch alloy wheels.
Carryover equipment includes a six-speaker sound system, cloth seats, a 3.5-inch driver display, split-fold 60:40 rear seats, keyless entry, seven airbags and cruise control.
Stepping up to the Longitude adds Jeep’s Selec-Terrain Traction Management system, power-adjustable front pews, rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, power tailgate, automatic wipers and push-button start.
Buyers of the Limited gain leather-trimmed seats, heated and cooled front pews, 18-inch alloy wheels, an 8.4-inch infotainment unit with satellite navigation, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam headlights, front parking sensors and automatic parking functionality.
Additions to the Trailhawk grade increase the Cherokee’s off-road ability and extends to a low-range gearbox, rear locking differential, heightened off-road suspension, grey-coloured body accents, off-road wheel flares, 17-inch wheels and all-weather floor mats.
However, the Trailhawk also relegates some of the Limited’s premium features to the options list such as heated and cooled front seats, automatic high beam control, adaptive cruise control and leather pews.
Longitude variants can be optioned with a $1650 tech pack, the Trailhawk is offered with a $2950 Premium Package, while the two top grades can also be had with a $2200 dual-pane panoramic sunroof.
Exterior colours available include Velvet Red, Firecracker Red, Olive Green, Hydro Blue, Light Brownstone, Granite Crystal, Billet Silver, Diamond Black Crystal, Pearl White and Bright White.
Fuel consumption in the Sport grade is rated at 8.5-litres per 100km, the Longitude and Limited return a figure of 9.8L/100km, while the Trailhawk is the thirstiest at 10.2L/100km.
Quickest in the zero to 100km/h acceleration testing is the Longitude and Limited, stopping the clock at 7.5 seconds, followed by the Trailhawk at 8.5s and then the Sport with a time of 9.6s.

2018 Jeep Cherokee pricing*

Sport (a) $35,950 (N/A)
Longitude (a) $41,950 (+$500)
Limited (a) $46,950 (+$1000)
Trailhawk (a) $48,450 (-$1500)

*Excludes on-road costs

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