Words: Robert Nichols
Photography: Robert Nichols
Published: September 27, 2016
What would you do if you were exploring some backroads and encountered a sign that read something like, “USE AT YOUR OWN RISK” or “IMPASSABLE WHEN WET”? The vast majority of us likely decide it would be wise not to proceed any further - our common sense dictates so. Even those who drive CUVs and so-called SUVs tuck tail and retreat for fear of getting stuck in some muddy bog in the middle of nowhere.
There is one group however that seems to lack this basic instinct. Interestingly, members of this group all drive a Jeep. In a Jeep owner, these signs trigger some dormant part of the brain which overrides common sense; instead it urges them onward. Perhaps they are just risk takers who long for the rush.
I believe the more likely reason for their lack of concern lies in the fact that the Jeep they are in is not just another SUV, no it is a purebred off-road rig meant to get dirty. So when I was given the chance to drive a 2016 Cherokee Overland 4X4, what choice did I have but to set out in search of some seldom travelled and muddy roads? After all, a clean Jeep is a sad sight.
Jeep has always had the reputation of building utilitarian go-anywhere vehicles, but the public demand for more Range Rover-like opulence meant Jeep needed to up its game. The first step was to separate the Cherokee into two models; the enthusiast Cherokee line and the more regal looking Grand Cherokee. This seemed to satisfy the off-road adventure types as well as the Golfers.
It didn’t take long for someone at FCA to see an opportunity though. Why not bridge the gap between the two genres by adding a more luxurious model to the Cherokee line. The Overland model is the outcome of that thought process.
Introduced as a model year 2016.5, the Overland checks all of the luxury boxes while retaining the ruggedness and relatively economical pricing that allows the driver to explore their surroundings free of the fear of damage.
Carefree adventure drives come courtesy of Jeep’s Active Drive II 4X4 system that is set up with a 2-speed power transfer unit and Selec-Terrain adjustable traction control which offers 4 pre-programmed settings (Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud). Accessing these programs is as simple as turning a dial or pushing a button.
An eerie level of control and seemingly infinite traction is attained as the programming micro-manages up to12 systems. On any terrain it encounters, the electronics are watching the electronic brake controller, ESC, transmission controller, powertrain and drivetrain controllers as well as hill ascent and descent control, to name a few.
The net result of all of this electronic wizardry blended with good old-fashioned gears and grunt is a feeling of invincibility. See a rock-strewn path meandering off into the unknown and you will be fully confident in your vehicle’s ability to traverse it, all the while making you look heroic.
I drove down one muddy rutted road that would have marooned any car and some AWD vehicles, yet the Cherokee crawled its way along without any sense that the road surface had changed from tarmac to slippery clay, let alone that it was strewn with deep tractor ruts filled with water.
After traversing this patch a few times for good measure and being satisfied that the Jeep I was driving now had mud on it, I finished my week on normal roads to get a fuller sense of the luxury amenities of this new Overland model, which if I am honest is probably why I was given it in the first place.
What differentiates the Overland from the rest of the Cherokee lineup? Well obviously not any lack of off-road prowess; no, the focus was on adding more comfort and convenience. To start with the exterior looks more upscale thanks to new body-colored fascias, door cladding and wheel flares. The front grille has received some bling and a new chin extension; new 18” polished aluminum wheels, standard HID bi-xenon headlights and the OVERLAND badge on the tailgate finish the subtle transformation.
It really becomes apparent that the Overland is not just an off-road tool when you hop inside. Everything looks high-end from the dark brown leather wrapped dash and steering wheel with a real wood insert. The Pearl coloured leather seats feature Sepia stitching and are very comfortable and firm enough for all-day drives free of fatigue. The front seats also have the option of being heated and cooled.
The only thing I was not so keen on was the Berber floor mats. Of course if you do not plan on getting mud on your shoes this is a moot point, but I did and it took far longer to clean than a rubber floor mat. That minor preference aside, Jeep has done a great job making their more common SUV feel like something special. It will be interesting to see if this will have any effect on Grand Cherokee sales.
I have to give a nod to the tech guys who were responsible for the infotainment system. The 8.4-inch touchscreen is lightning quick and responds to the lightest touch. The programming is equally easy to learn and just makes sense. While we are talking entertainment, the Alpine Premium audio is very nice.
Some tech has been added to this new model as standard equipment. The Overland comes with blind-spot monitoring, Park sense, a power lift gate, rear cross-path detection, and better insulation. The one I drove was also equipped with the optional Technology group that adds adaptive cruise, park assist(parallel and perpendicular), lane departure alert and lane keep assist, forward collision warning with active braking (which works a little too well for my liking) and auto high beams and windshield wipers.
For a true 4x4, this Jeep returned remarkable fuel economy. The official numbers are 8.9/12.5/10.9 L/100 km City/Highway/Combined. Unbelievably I scored below this with a week’s end average of just 9.1 L/100 km. One possible reason for this frugal consumption was a lot of highway time, but Jeep is also introducing a novel idea. When the vehicle is being driven in normal conditions, the rear axle disconnects thus reducing the strain on the engine and the hit to your wallet.
Under the hood resides a Pentastar V6 that displaces 3.2 litres and develops 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque. This is paired to a smooth shifting 9-speed automatic that goes about it business imperceptibly. Power is more than adequate and the cabin is very quiet at speed. This was the correct choice given the premium overtones of the model. One thing is not premium though, the fuel requirement. The base engine is the 2.4L Tigershark I4 that produces 184 hp and 171 lb-ft, but if it were my money I’d have the V6, it has been around for years and will require less maintenance.
The Overland trim is a welcome addition to a line-up of real SUVs. It balances off-roading prowess with the right amount of plush and luxury. For those who like to get a little dirty but have to impress a client the next day, you may want to check this one out.
型号 Model: 2016 Jeep Cherokee Overland 4x4
顏色 Paint Type: Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $45,095
試車售價 Price as Tested: $48,760
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,719
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,624 / 1,859 / 1,710
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,835
引擎 Engine: 3.2L Pentastar VVT V6
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, 4x4
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 9.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 225/55R18