Today Jeep is enjoying a renaissance in the UK, aided by a superb range of new diesel engines.
The Cherokee and Grand Cherokee are practical and cost effective alternatives for fleet users wanting a 4x4 with a difference.
The earliest Cherokee can more than hold its own with European rivals on pricing and running costs, whether you chose 2.4 petrol, 2.5 CRD diesel or the brand new 2.8 CRD Auto.
The Cherokee starts from just £17,995 OTR for the 2.4 Sport, which includes air conditioning, twin air bags, ABS, all-round electric windows, a CD stereo and a Thatcham Category 1 alarm/immobiliser.
It may be the entry model in the Cherokee range but the 2.4 Sport has a 145bhp engine and a selectable high/low range gearbox for perfect performance in any condition.
High-mileage drivers will appreciate the choice of two excellent diesel engine. With the latest common-rail fuel injection, the 2.5CRD and the new 2.8 CRD Auto, which powers the Cherokee from 0-62mph in just 12.6secs and on to a top speed of 108mph, offer Jeep's trademark low-down pulling power.
While it doesn't compromise on comfort for on-road driving, the Cherokee has been built to take on the toughest off-road conditions with suspension design that's proven through years of 4x4 experience.
Well-equipped to compete
Generous standard specification is a Jeep hallmark: even the entry Cherokee has specification comparable with an up-spec executive saloon equivalent.
Given Jeep's off-road heritage, you'd expect the Cherokee to deliver the goods here and it doesn't disappoint. Unlike may rivals fitted with only a conventional transmission the Cherokee boasts the high/low ration transfer gearbox found in a genuine dual-role 4x4. Optional skid plates for the transfer box and fuel tank confirm the Cherokee's 4x4 potential.
On-road comfort has just as high a priority for many drivers, and here again the Cherokee won't disappoint.
At just £22,995 on the road, the Cherokee Limited 2.5 CRD, for example, comes with all the above Cherokee refinements and adds cruise control and 16in alloy wheels, smartly complimented by body-coloured wheelarch and side mouldings.
Not forgetting, of course, Jeep's outstanding common-rail turbodiesel: the 2.5 CRD develops a healthy 141bhp plus 253lb ft of torque from just 2,000rpms – making it the biggest and most powerful engine in its class.
Hi-tech through experience
The Cherokee's trademark slatted grill and round headlamps may be consciously 'retro' in style but there's nothing old-fashioned about the technology underneath. Jeep engineers designed the new Cherokee from the ground-up to provide the optimal combination of on-road manners with genuine off-road ability.
Progressive-rate coil springs and dual-rate suspension bushes ensure a smooth ride on tarmac yet the suspension has a remarkable 20cm of travel to cope with the rough stuff.
The 2.5 CRD and 2.8 CRD Auto common-rail diesel engines available in the Cherokee are also unusually powerful. Twin overhead camshafts and counter-rotating balancer shafts are features more normally found in sports cars, while fuel is delivered by the latest technology for exceptional efficiency.
Of course, being a Jeep, the Cherokee is more strongly built than ordinary cars but occupant safety is further ensured by standard-fit twin air bags that deploy at different levels according to the level of impact.
Unusually in this class, side air bag 'curtains' can also be specified to provide additional protection at head-height.
Add in unique features, such as Jeep's patented single-action swing tailgate/flip-up rear window, and you'll realise that an off-roader doesn't have to be uncouth or uncivilised when driving in the city.
|Jeep Cherokee: OTR price and RV comparisons|
|Jeep Cherokee 2.4 Sport||£17,995||£6,625/37%|
|Land Rover Freelander 1.8i S 5dr||£17,495||£6,725/39%|
|Jeep Cherokee 2.5 CRD Sport||£19,995||£7,775/39%|
|Jeep Cherokee 2.8 CRD Sport Auto||£20,835||£7,950/38%|
|Land Rover Freelander 2.0 Td4 S 5dr||£18,700||£7,675/41%|
|Jeep Cherokee 3.7 V6 Limited Auto||£22,995||£7,775/34%|
|Land Rover Freelander 2.5 V6i GS 5dr Auto||£22,595||£7,600/34%|
|Source: manufacturer data|
|CAP Monitor RVs over three years/60,000 miles|
|Competitive advantage: Jeep Cherokee CRD compared|
|Max power||Max torque||Combined consumption|
|Jeep Cherokee 2.5 CRD||141bhp||253 lb ft||31.4mpg|
|Jeep Cherokee 2.8 CRD||148bhp||266lb ft||27.4mpg|
|Land Rover Freelander 2.0 Td4||110.5bhp||192 lb ft||37.2mpg|
|Toyota RAV4 2.0 D-4D||114bhp||184lb ft||39.8mpg|
|Source: manufacturer information|
Grand Cherokee: grand car offers grand value
TOP levels of luxury and performance at a top level value for money price – that's the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
With a choice of 4.0-litre 6-cylinder and a 4.7-litre V8 petrol engines plus a 2.7-litre common-rail turbodiesel, the Grand Cherokee offers fantastic value for money in the premium sector of the four-wheel drive market.
With prices starting at just £27,995 on the road for the 4.0-litre Limited, the Grand Cherokee's comprehensive specification includes a generous level of luxury – ABS, remote locking, 17in alloy wheels, dual zone climate control, 10-way power-adjustable seats, cruise control and a premium infinity sound system – is standard.
The top of the range Overland – which now includes a new 2.7-litre CRD common-rail diesel variant (below) – adds leather and suede upholstery, a redwood burl-trimmed facia, 10-disc CD autochanger, additional underbody skid protection, side rock rails and body-colour bumpers and side mouldings to create the ultimate in luxury 4x4s.
The 2.7-litre CRD turbodiesel unit is derived from a Mercedes-Benz engine and returns combined consumption of 29.1mpg. It drives through a new five-speed automatic transmission, also shared with Mercedes.
With the Grand Cherokee, Jeep has achieved the optimum balance of American emotion and European rational values. In other words, the Jeep Grand Cherokee means you really can have your cake and eat it.
|Jeep Cherokee 2.7CRD compared|
|Jeep Cherokee 2.7 CRD Overland||257||161||295||11.2||118||29.7||£31,495|
|Audi Allroad 2.5 TDi Quattro Tiptronic||262||178||273||10.2||127||29.1||£30,815|
|BMW X5 3.0d Sport auto||259||231||221||10.5||124||29.1||£36,265|
|Land Rover Discovery 2.5 Td5 ES auto||284||135||251||15.8||115||27.4||£34,490|
|Volvo XC90 2.4 D5 SE auto||242||163||251||12.3||115||31.0||£31,650|
Quadra-Drive: a unique transmission
THE Grand Cherokee is not only one of the best-equipped 4x4s, it is also one of the most advanced.
At the core of the Grand Cherokee's phenomenal off-road ability is Jeep's Quadra-Drive transmission. Unique to the Grand Cherokee, Quadra-Drive will keep the car moving even if only one wheel has traction. When Quadra-Drive senses too great a speed difference between wheels, hydraulic clutches deliver extra power to the wheel with most grip.
In normal driving the power split is biased in favour of the rear wheels for safe predictable handling. When conditions deteriorate Quadra-Drive adjusts the balance without the driver having to operate any controls; the system works so efficiently its only noticable effect is the way the vehicle keeps moving, however slippery the surface.
While its off-road performance fully lives up to the Jeep tradition, the Grand Cherokee is equally at home on the motorway.