Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the Jeep Cherokee Sport.
The new Jeep Cherokee is here and after a couple of weeks behind the wheel I can confirm two things – it’s a head-turner and a conversation starter.
Unfortunately, on some levels it really doesn’t live up to the attention it receives.
As covered in my review of the V6 Longitude version last week, there are a few issues that let this new small SUV offering down.
Firstly, the Sport is the bargain-basement version and pricing starts at $33,500.
Available only in front-wheel drive and with a 2.4 litre four-cylinder petrol engine and nine-speed auto transmission, you get 130kW and 232Nm at your disposal (V6 versions boast 200kW and 316Nm).
In a week of wholly city driving I averaged 11.7L/100kms, the official urban rate is 11.6L/100kms and the combined usage comes in at 8.3L/100kms.
On the road safety front, the four-cylinder engine is adequate without being amazing.
Weighing in at 1638kgs, the Cherokee is no light-weight and this is what causes that urban consumption rate to climb into those double figures.
With just 232Nm on tap, load a few passengers in the cabin and the smaller engine does start to struggle, especially when a hill needs to be tackled.
Thus the 1800kg braked towing capacity could be a challenge!
The transmission, as with the V6 paring, can get lost and during slow speed acceleration provides the odd unsettling ‘jerky’ change.
Steering though is well-weighted; ride and handling in the Cherokee Sport are both passable.
Inside the cabin, well it’s almost the same as the Longitude.
The good bits include the seats, the overall look and feel, the chunky steering wheel and the simple air-conditioning controls.
Unfortunately, the Sport doesn’t get the handy under seat base storage area that the V6 version boasts and this is a letdown.
Once again, I loathed the key and the ignition function and location, was frustrated by the resetting of the fresh air intake each time the ignition was turned off.
I was also left scratching my head about the lack of a driver’s footrest!
I also didn’t like that when you make a climate setting adjustment the change is only represented in a tiny graphic at the top of the centre display screen, unless you physically click into the climate screen.
I found this too distracting and fiddly.
Summing it up: I don’t know. I just expected so much more from the Cherokee and so far I’ve been really disappointed.
The four-cylinder version is more frugal than the V6 and should be looked at by anyone using the Cherokee as a city car.
It’s frustrating that the smaller engine is only available in this ‘bargain basement’ trim level though and an all-wheel drive option would be nice too.
I also find it amusing that this vehicle carries the ‘Sport’ moniker – there really is nothing sporty at all about this vehicle!
With prices starting at $33,500 it also doesn’t carry a price advantage; you can easily drive out of dealerships in comparable rivals such as the Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V and Hyundai ix35 for less money.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 2.4 litre petrol producing 130kW and 232Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Safety: Five stars
Origin: United States
Price: From $33,500