Shunning the strictly vertical look of its Jeep mates, the Cherokee is nevertheless one of the most lusty, robust crossovers on the market. While serving as a civilized daily driver for the family, it delivers authentic off-road talents. Beneath its unconventional exterior, you get the familiar Jeep characteristics and reputation for rugged competence.
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2016 Jeep Cherokee Overview
What's New for 2016
For 2016, driver-comfort enhancements have been added to the steering-column tilt, instrument cluster, and front seats. Cherokees with an 8.4-inch touchscreen gain new Uconnect features, including a Drag and Drop menu bar, Siri Eyes Free, and Do-Not-Disturb (which temporarily blocks calls and texts). A freshened Cherokee is expected to appear during 2016.
Choosing Your Jeep Cherokee
Even though Cherokee seeks the same audience as various compact crossovers, it’s almost in a class by itself -- not only by design, but because it rides a little higher than competitors. Though the distinctive front-end look is somewhat polarizing, it does give this different breed of Jeep more of an SUV-like appearance.
All models get a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 184 horsepower. The 3.2-liter V6, available for all but the Sport model, generates an impressive 271 horsepower. Both engines mate with a nine-speed automatic transmission and a choice of four-wheel drive systems:
- Active Drive I is meant for on-road use in harsh weather, similar to AWD systems in ordinary crossovers.
- Active Drive II has low-range gearing for off-road capacity.
Both systems have a terrain selector to ensure maximum traction under varying conditions.
EPA fuel economy estimates range from 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway (25 mpg combined) with the four-cylinder engine and front-drive, down to 19/25 mpg with the four-cylinder, four-wheel drive Trailhawk.
Four trim levels are offered:
All models can be equipped with a towing package. Dual sunroofs may be added (except on Sport).
Adding four-wheel drive to a Sport, Latitude or Limited model costs just about as much as stepping up to the next trim level. Picking 4WD is typically a wise choice, especially in northern climates, but it’s easy to go overboard with the option list. Better to make a basic decision first: Are you most interested in luxury features and conveniences, or does basic all-weather capability top your personal desirability list.
2016 Jeep Cherokee Review
Jeep revived the Cherokee in 2014 to mixed reviews, as its new look was a love-it-or-hate-it proposition. It still has looks that polarize Jeep fans, but its capabilities have definitely proved that it is deserving of the Jeep badge.
Pricing and Equipment
At a starting price of just $23,295 for the Sport trim with front-wheel drive, the Cherokee picks up where its last generation left off as one of the lowest-price SUVs. Like most Jeeps, the Cherokee comes pretty well equipped. Its list of standard features include:
- Power mirrors
- LED taillights
- Three 12-volt power outlets
- Two USB ports
- Six-speaker audio system
We think that the Cherokee is really the best of both worlds, as it works well as a family cruiser or a weekend off-roader, depending on how it is equipped. Its 3.2-liter V6 engine is plenty capable, plus the Cherokee makes a surprisingly good tow vehicle.
- 271-horsepower V6 delivers plenty of pop for this segment
- Feels more nimble than its 4,000-pound curb weight should allow
- Four-cylinder engine delivers ample power and good fuel economy
- 4,500-pound towing capacity is great for the class
Finding fault in the Cherokee's performance is tough, but we look to the nine-speed transmission for its greatest weakness: All those gears are a little excessive, and it tends to hunt for gears.
- We're not sure about the Jeep-ness of standard front-wheel drive
- Fuel economy is only so-so with the V6
The Cherokee's cabin is nicely laid out for a crossover -- everything is where it should be. Innovative interior design adds visual interest, and there are some nice materials in higher trims.
There's lots and lots of plastic in entry-level Cherokees -- it's everywhere. The urethane shifter knob feels particularly cheap. While this does help keep the price down, it doesn't create a sense of value.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
While an un-optioned Cherokee isn't anything to write home about, the plethora of available features are awesome. We like the fact that there are numerous ways to make the Cherokee more luxurious or more off-road ready, making it tweakable for many different buyers.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
We don't expect soft-touch materials everywhere, but the sea of plastic we sometimes encounter in the Cherokee is a bit overwhelming.
The Bottom Line
The Jeep Cherokee isn't the perfect crossover, but it comes very close. With the availability of premium features and off-road capability, it's a great option for buyers who want the best of both worlds.
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