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The Top Gear car review:Jeep Cherokee
What is it like on the road?
A quick lesson in off-roader distinctions for you: the Cherokee is a 4x4, not an SUV. And remember, SUV stands for Sports Utility Vehicle. Keep that difference in mind, because there is nothing sporty about the Cherokee. The steering is vague, with an odd dead patch around the centre, and despite the car having independent front and multi-link rear suspension, there’s not much enthusiasm through a corner.
Where it does do better is the ride quality. It’s a bit lumpy around town, but once you’re up to speed, the Cherokee settles down and easily copes with long schleps down a motorway. And thanks to the nine-speed auto, there’s not much engine noise at 70mph. For one of the more off-road focused cars in the class, it’s impressive how comfy it is on-road.
But the auto isn’t perfect as it holds onto gears too much when you’re cruising at slower speeds. Net result? The rev needle hovers at around 2,000rpm, and when the engine’s spinning over at that sort of speed, too much rattle filters back into the cabin. Pity.
As we’ve said, the 2.2-litre diesel is the only engine we’ll get for the time being. There are two versions - 148bhp and also 192bhp – but in the UK we only get the more powerful one.
Not that it’ll re-write the rulebook on acceleration figures. Its 0-62mph time is, at best, 8.8 seconds (9.1 for the two-wheel drive) but again, remember that the Cherokee is a an SUV without the S. And there’s no point thrashing the engine – this isn’t a diesel that gets silkier the more you rev it.
It all adds up to a car that doesn’t quite seem happy with itself – there are aspects that work, but they don’t gel together.