I seem to complain a lot about loaded test vehicles and I think I have some merit. I understand the want and desire of the manufacturers to show off all their goodies and to give us their very best in order to garner praise. But sometimes that can work against you, like when you send a $45,000 Jeep Cherokee over -- seems a bit on the pricey side for a Cherokee to me.
But hey this Cherokee is loaded. Like really, really loaded. If you head over to Jeep.ca and try to price out a 2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk to match this one you will literally check every single option box on the menu. That's right, this thing has every option available on the Trailhawk, down to the black wheels and black hood decal (which isn't really optional anyways but they charge you $150 for it).
So maybe it is a little on the pricey side but it has the goods to back up that price at least. Like the panoramic sunroof, navigation, blind spot and cross-alert, nine-speaker stereo coupled with Uconnect and even the optional single-disc CD player. The cold weather package which includes heated mirrors, seats and steering wheel and the comfort package and ventilated seats (seat cooling) with memory. This Jeep really does seem to have it all and on top of that it is trail rated and is equipped with the towing package capable of towing 2,050 kg (4,500 lb)
The Cherokee is the second best selling Jeep in Canada based on 2014 numbers, just barely behind the iconic Wrangler. It is a Jeep that appeals to a lot of demographics, including the Jeep enthusiast, the image conscious and those just looking for a crossover to head to the mall. The Trailhawk model that I am piloting this week falls into the image conscious and enthusiast category and is the most rugged Cherokee available.
Pricing: 2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk
Base Price (SL): $31,545
Options: 3.2-litre Pentastar $1,595; Leather Group $800; Trailer Tow $495; Ventilated / Memory Seats $795, Cold Weather package $895; Safetytec Group $895; Technology Group $995; Convenience Group $1,295; Black Hood Decal $150; Dual Pane Sunroof $1,595; UConnect with Navigation $700; Single Disc CD $250; 9-speakers with subwoofer $400; Black 17-inch wheels $500
A/C Tax: $100
Price as tested: $44,700
You know this Cherokee is not half bad, actually the interior is quite excellent indeed. With eight-way power adjustable driver's seat and tilt and telescope steering getting comfortable was a breeze and it stays comfortable as the leather seats are just the right ratio of firm to soft. With the proper seating position visibility is also excellent all around and the upright seating gives you a great view of the road.
If you get lazy there is the blind-spot detection system which basically eliminates the need to shoulder check (but really you should anyways) and if you get really lazy and wander out of your lane you'll feel the steering shove back to keep you from exiting your lane without signalling first.
The Cherokee really is a nice balance of size and cargo capacity with 60/40 split folding seats and a good size cargo area with tonneau cover. The back seats are not as comfortable as the front but they are roomy. My tester has a horrible squeak coming from the rear seats -- so much so I've come to call my tester "squeaker".
Of course while upfront you have the wonderful UConnect system that really is one of the best in the business, the system is intuitive, super fast to respond and has all the features you want at a quick glance/touch. The steering wheel is a little busy with collisions avoidance, cruise control, radio controls, voice recognition and volume controls as well but the buttons are large and easy to read making it easy to find that one you need quickly.
Of course the Trailhawk model is an offroad package so it also has the terrain select modes, including auto, snow, sport, sand/mud and 4WD low with rear locker and hill descent control -- the Cherokee might look like a cute-ute but it is a serious off-road machine that will take you places you would never think possible.
For me the most important part of any vehicle is how it drives. Is it smooth? Does it deliver sufficient power to motivate the vehicle? Does it stop and handle well? Perhaps some of these are not as important in an SUV but if you don't enjoy the drive what's the point? Life is too short to hate your vehicle.
The Jeep surprisingly does a lot of things right here. The 3.2L V6 offers up 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque and despite the complaints about the nine-speed transmission it seems to work perfectly in this application. The V6 is smooth and so is the transmission, although you will never see ninth gear at legal speeds I'm not sure that really matters that much. The shifting is smooth and imperceptible and passing is not an issue.
Out on the highway the Cherokee is quiet despite the TrailHawk being shod with fairly aggressive tires -- this surprised me as well as these types of tires usually hum or howl out on the highway. As mentioned in Day 2 the Cherokee is well sized and it shows on the road, it handles well, yes even with the offroad tires.
I'm really enjoying driving the Cherokee, it is smooth, comfortable and quiet, while still offering an engaging driving experience and a ton of toys to play with as well. If it wasn't for that silly squeak in the rear seat area I'd be really impressed.
Over the week I averaged 9.4 L/100 km in an all-wheel drive off-road oriented SUV with a powerful V6 engine. I was happy with the results. On the highway the Cherokee achieves excellent fuel economy, often hovering around the 6-7 L/100 km on the instantaneous fuel consumption readout, factor in the 60L fuel tank and you will most likely have to visit the bathroom before running out of fuel.
My only dislike with the Cherokee is the styling, the squinty daytime running lights with headlights lower in the fascia just do not look right to me. And owners report that the headlights get plastered with dirt and bugs because of their location on a flat surface with no airflow.
The 2015 Cherokee really impressed me this week, the auto start/stop feature and smooth engine and transmission combination make driving the Cherokee an enjoyable drive, and the start/stop ensures that you achieve reasonable fuel consumption even around town.