Inspired by customer feedback which suggested a van version of the Cherokee would find a market, the Pioneer is based on the Cherokee 2.5 CRD Sport, and is priced from just £17,503 OTR excluding VAT.
The load bay area is 1.3m long, 1.2m wide and 1m high offering a load area capacity of over one full cubic metre and a payload of 359kg, accessed through the rear side doors, or through the wide-opening tailgate with flip-up glass.
Jeep's Command-Trac part-time four-wheel drive system, complete with low range transfer box offers 10 forward gears and two reverse for the ultimate in off-roading ability.
The 2.5-litre turbodiesel in the Pioneer may not be the most refined unit, but it offers 141bhp and substantial torque of 251lb-ft between just 2,000 and 2,400rpm giving the Pioneer formidable towing ability, and a maximum braked trailer weight of 2,688kg.
You'd expect the Pioneer to be a solid performer off-road, and so it proves.
The quarry gave a demonstration of the car's abilities. Although it wasn't the ultimate test, it seems unlikely that most owners would encounter anything more severe.
The Jeep took steep inclines on loose shale, crazy-angle traverses and cave-like potholes that revealed amazing axle articulation in its stride.
Granted, our car had chunky Goodrich Mud-Terrain tyres, but these are a stock item on the options list and are recommended for off-roading.
The downside of the tyres' exceptional off-road performance was road noise.
Regular road tyres with merely off-road capability may prove less capable on the rough stuff but would doubtless offer a more acceptable compromise.
With standard specification that includes twin multi-stage front airbags, ABS, air conditioning, remote central locking, electric front windows, headlamp levelling, electrically operated and heated door mirrors, rear wash-wipe, roof rails, tinted glass and a single CD player, the Pioneer wants for little equipment-wise.
It's so well-specced that there are only three options – 16in alloy wheels (£320), metallic silver paint (£210) and a removable steel mesh bulkhead (£200). Additionally, the full range of Jeep's StarTech accessories is available on the Pioneer.
Jeep is aiming the Pioneer at two customers – the small business which wants a stylish vehicle with the looks of an off-roader, and larger organisations such as service utilities and which need a vehicle with off-road ability.
Jeep's sales aspirations are quite modest in the first year: national corporate sales manager, Mike Arthur, reckons between 300 and 350 units.
However, with 93 dealers, of which 15 are fully-fledged fleet dealers, there's a decent service infrastructure, with dealers supported by Jeep's corporate department.
Jeep's three-year/60,000 mile warranty gives purchasers added peace of mind.
The Cherokee Pioneer's torquey engine, great ground clearance and pukka 4x4 equipment make it a convincing choice for those needing a versatile LCV with a genuine off-road ability.
Model: Cherokee Pioneer
Engine (cc): 2.5 CRD
Max power (bhp/rpm): 141/4,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 251/2,000-2,400
Max payload (kg): 359
Towing capacity (braked,kg): 2,668
Cargo volume (ltrs): 1,954
On sale: Now