Reviews

2016 Jeep Cherokee Driving Impressions


The Jeep Cherokee comes in a range of models. The Trailhawk is the Cherokee with true off-road skills. Other models are best defined as relatively docile, but responsive, family-carrying crossovers.

Jeep managed to stuff plenty of potential ruggedness into the design, considering that the Cherokee’s basic foundation stems from passenger cars.

With the impressively refined front-wheel drive and four-cylinder engine, Cherokee amounts to a tall, thrifty hatchback. Unless carrying a heavy load, it’s sufficiently powerful.

Substitute the V6 and Active Lock off-road system, and it becomes a nimble rock-climber as well as a capable family wagon. A V6 Cherokee feels somewhat heavier, yet seems confident and refined.

The 9-speed transmission helps keep performance strong. Even the four-cylinder starts out eagerly. Unfortunately, the transmission is subject to periods of gear-change indecision or jolting, along with oddly delayed upshifts. Sport mode promises the most decisive, predictable shifts, while shrinking gas mileage.

With the V6 and Trailer Tow Package, the Cherokee can tow 4,500 pounds.

Though pleasant overall, road feel isn’t a strong point. Steering is somewhat numb and heavy, lacking in feedback, though accurate. Ride quality is nicely tuned and well-damped. Trailhawk, helped by off-road tires and taller ride height, is best at absorbing low-speed rough spots.

Active Drive I is fine for snowy pavement. Active Drive II adds a low range with an offroad-appealing 56:1 crawl ratio. All four-wheel-drive Cherokees have four-mode Selec-Terrain.

Base four-cylinder versions are EPA-rated at 22/31 mpg City/Highway, dropping to 21/28 mpg with Active Drive I. Fuel economy on the V6 starts at 19/28 mpg City/Highway for front-drive models; 19/27 with Active Drive II.

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