Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
Jeeps have always been notable for their off-roading prowess and having the ability to take the path less driven. They were four-wheeled masters of the terrain that could ford rivers and scale rocks the size of a two-storey building. So what happened with this one? Here we have a front-wheel drive squinty-eyed 2015 Jeep Cherokee 4x2 and its off-roading abilities are highly questionable. Without all-wheel drive and heavy-duty suspension parts, the new Cherokee 4x2 sacrifices a bit of versatility for a road-focused approach and appeal. It still looks like a Jeep, drives like a Jeep, and behaves like a Jeep, but instead of becoming a trail-blazing mule, it’s now a little more mainstream – not every customer that buys a Jeep wants to crawl rocks or dive into the jungle. Some just want to get from A to B in an affordable and sensible manner, with a bit of the lovable Jeep charm.
That’s where the new Cherokee 4x2 comes into play. Replacing the Jeep Liberty in North America, the new Cherokee rides on the same platform as the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedan. There are two engines available with the choice of front or all-wheel drive - all paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Offered as standard is the 2.4-litre TigerShark inline-four engine that delivers 184 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque, but we would suggest spending a little extra for the optional 3.2-litre V6 ($1,595). It’s a potent powertrain with 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque. That allows the Cherokee to quickly get up to speed and overtake on the highway with ease. As it pulls, your ears get treated to a shriveling growl and idling grunt from the dual exhaust – it’s definitely one of the better sounding V6s in the crossover market.
New for 2015 is a start/stop system available for the V6 engine. It increases fuel efficiency by shutting off the engine when the vehicle is at a complete stop. The engine will restart and turn back on when the brake is released. There’s a slight shudder that vibrates throughout the cabin when it does, but it becomes customary and forgettable after a few days behind the wheel.
There is only one transmission available for the Cherokee and that’s the nine-speed automatic. Nine gears? Do you really need that many? Jeep tends to thinks so. The nine-speed has been tuned and heavily geared towards fuel efficiency rather than performance, and in doing so, the gearbox spends way too much time hunting for the correct gear when power is demanded. To be honest, I don’t blame it. It’s like having a polygamous relationship and being forced to choose only one of your nine wives. Where do you even start?
Regardless, you won’t be spending too much time in ninth gear unless you’re speeding on the highway. And these days, you really don’t need anything more than eight gears – I really believe that’s the sweet spot. The Grand Cherokee utilizes a silky smooth 8-speed, why can’t the Cherokee too? It also has this eerie tiptronic function: see that gear shifter on the center console? In most vehicles, when you flip it down to D and to the left for manual shifting, you can shift your gears via pushing the lever up or down. With the Cherokee however, all you really control is the maximum gear you want to hit, not the actual gear change. For example, say if I shifted the Cherokee’s gearbox to “fourth” gear, the transmission will treat fourth as the maximum gear, but won’t necessarily reach it. In fact, you could still be in second gear but see a “4” on the gearbox reading. All it does is limit the gearbox from up-shifting any further from the gear you desire.
In all honesty, this is a very basic Jeep that was never meant for off-roading, but there is still a huge supply of traction whenever the weather gets rough. Unfortunately, we’re in the midst of summer and the only treacherous weather we got to put the Jeep through was some heavy rain and a crazy car wash. There is no noticeable torque steer coming up through the wheel despite the V6’s impressive power output, but I would still opt for the 4x4 all-wheel drive option if you’re going to be spending some time in heavy snow or on muddy cottage trails. This 4x2 front-wheel drive option is more of a daily grocery getter and family hauler but whatever the configuration, the Cherokee delivers excellent road manners with a rigid body and a comfortable ride.
The Cherokee prides itself on fuel efficiency thanks to its new start/stop system and frugal nine-speed transmission. The numbers don’t lie – we averaged 11.5 L/100km with a heavier emphasis on city driving. That’s pretty good when you take into account its six-cylinder engine.
Most people are on the fence about the Cherokee’s new looks. Our friends and colleagues have wrapped up quite a list of appropriate names, calling it everything from the Polar Bear to the Squinty Asian. Our particular tester came equipped with the special edition Altitude Package ($495) that deletes all the chrome parts and replaces them with black accents on the grill, roof rails, bumpers, headlights, and sinister looking 18-inch wheels. The Bright White paint is a good choice with this package, as it heavily accentuates the added detail and generates an exterior look that overestimates the Cherokee’s $28,195 MSRP. In my opinion, it looks even better in Granite Crystal Paint.
The interior theme is functionality. There is a lot of smart packaging throughout the cabin and it’s a total knockout when it comes to quality materials and getting the most bang out of your buck. The Cherokee cleverly hides its economy-class foundation with a well-appointed setup and a thoughtful amount of storage options littered far and wide. There are huge cubbies (18 in total) in every nook and cranny of the Cherokee, and there’s even a storage area when you flip up the front passenger seat, or what my friends like to call the hide-yo-drugs compartment. Unfortunately, rear seat legroom and trunk space are disappointing especially when compared to other SUVs. We also noticed some rattles throughout the cabin, especially on the passenger side doorframe.
Jeeps have always catered their driving positions towards people with long arms and short legs (not us), so we found the Cherokee’s driving position a little odd and uncomfortable. We either had to sit up very straight or elongate our arms like those wacky inflatable arm-flailing balloon men next to department stores. On the other hand, the cloth seats were surprisingly comfortable - the bolstering was good and was overall very supportive.
As a mid-trim Cherokee, there were a few features and options that went AWOL. We found ourselves longing for navigation ($500) and automatic air conditioning (as part of the $1,295 Comfort/Convenience Group Package), but oddly enough there was Bluetooth Connectivity and Sirius XM Radio equipped on our tester. Such are the times. But the Uconnect infotainment system ($800) is the best that there is, and I always praise FCA vehicles that have it supplied. It’s responsive, quick, has easy to use menus, and a low learning curve so that even your grandparents can turn on their heated seats. But a mild complaint I have is the lack of dedicated hard buttons, especially for the heated steering wheel and seats. But Jeep tries to solve that pickle by offering a quick shortcut on the touchscreen when the engine fires up.
New safety features for 2015 include a Forward Collision Warning System that will beep when you’re approaching a car too fast, a Blind Spot Monitoring System that will flash a light when a car is hiding in your blind spot, Rear Cross-Path Detection that will detect cars when you’re trying to get out of your parking spot, and a Rear Park Assist that uses sensors to warn the driver if the vehicle is too close to an object. Our Cherokee had all of this loaded on for $895. A rear view camera adds an extra $450. We would also recommend getting the Cold Weather Group ($895) that comes with a leather wrapped shift knob, power heated mirrors, heated front seats and steering wheel, and a remote start system. Though a bit pricey, I would also opt for the sunroof ($1,595) to address the cramped feeling I get when sitting in the back seat.
This mid-level Cherokee 4x2 North starts at $28,195 and offers a well-built V6 powertrain along with clever interior packaging. As a front-wheel drive Jeep, the Cherokee 4x2 is not exactly a vehicle you’d take out to challenge Mother Nature, but it’s the one you’d happily snatch the keys to on the way to the supermarket or for your weekend road trip. And if given the opportunity, I’m sure the Cherokee would rather take the paved road than the muddy trail. The Cherokee 4x2 is not your traditional weather-dominating Jeep, but it’s still a potent and sensible SUV that hasn’t abandoned any of its alluring charm.
型号 Model: 2015 Jeep Cherokee Altitude 4x2 North
顏色 Paint Type: Bright White
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $28,195
試車售價 Price as Tested: $33,620
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,699
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,624 / 1,858 / 1,670
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,714
引擎 Engine: 3.2L Pentastar VVT V6 engine
最大馬力 Horsepower: 271 hp @ 6,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 239 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson strut, long travel coil springs, one-piece aluminum sub-frame, aluminum lower control arms, stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Four link rear suspension with trailing arm, aluminum lateral links, isolated high-strength steel rear cradle, coil springs, stabilizer bar
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: 13 x 1.1 vented rotor with single piston floating caliper
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: 10.95 x 0.47 solid rotor with single-piston floating caliper
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 11.4 / 8.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P225/55R18