Running the gamut from affordable family hauler to capable off-road adventurer.

The 2016 Jeep Cherokee runs the gamut from affordable family hauler to capable off-road adventurer, which isn't an easy task for a compact SUV to accomplish. The feat is made even more impressive when you consider that there are really no sacrifices to make in terms of practicality or comfort whether you choose the rugged Trailhawk model versus the more street-friendly entry-level models. Thanks to its car-based platform (borrowed from corporate parent Fiat), the 2016 Jeep Cherokee is easy to drive, offers excellent passenger room thanks to a recline-and-slide second row, and is priced competitively with other sport-utilities of similar size.

There aren't any direct rivals to the Jeep Cherokee when you consider its ability to tackle whatever terrain comes its way - most other compact crossovers and SUVs tend to wince if you take them off the beaten path for more than a kilometre or two. Still, there are a few aspects of the Jeep Cherokee's character that might keep you from taking the plunge after that first test drive, depending on how your family priorities stack up.

Pros:

  • The Trailhawk trim level really is the cream of the crop for compact SUVs if you're focusing on off-road chops. Competitors like the Subaru Forester and Subaru Crosstrek have the ground clearance to tackle hill and dale, but only the Cherokee Trailhawk delivers low-range Active Drive II four-wheel drive, the Selec-Terrain drive mode system, and a suspension system that can take a pounding through mud, over rocks, and when climbing steep inclines.
  • If you're willing to spend the money, the Limited (MSRP $33,895) and Overland (MSRP $39,895) trims offer a very appealing set of interior comforts and high tech features. In particular, the Uconnect infotainment system available with the Jeep Cherokee is the best in its class when it comes to graphics, ease of use, and speed.
  • Advanced safety is a catchword for the Jeep Cherokee. A lane departure warning and intervention system, forward collision warning with automatic braking, blind spot monitoring system, and an automatic reverse braking system are all offered with the vehicle - although some of these work better in the real world than others (see Cons).
  • The 2016 Jeep Cherokee is one of the few compact SUVs to feature V6 power. The optional 3.2-litre unit in the Cherokee delivers 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque, and is matched with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is authoritative with the 6-cylinder mill under the hood, and it ups the vehicle's towing capacity to 2,041 kilograms (4,500 lbs).

Cons:

  • The entry-level four-cylinder engine - a 2.4-litre mill rated at 184 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque - doesn't play nice with the 9-speed auto-box. This leads to clunky shifts and a puzzling inability to choose the correct ratio in certain driving situations.
  • The Cherokee is one of the heaviest small SUVs out there, and as a result the 4-cylinder feels overwhelmed, even with your foot down. The Jeep's portly character is further reflected in its fuel efficiency breakdown, with front-wheel drive 2.4-litre editions sucking down 10.9 L/100 km in city driving and four-wheel drive V6 models listed at 12.5 L/100 km - numbers you'd be lucky to get in the real world.
  • Those active safety systems are nice when they work, but we've come across more than a few bugs - particularly with active braking, which can make it a challenge to reverse the Jeep Cherokee should the system detect any phantoms immediately behind the back bumper.
  • Cargo space is only average for the hefty Cherokee: you're looking at 1,554 litres (54.9 cubic feet) total, which is a good 428 litres (15 cubic feet) behind class leaders like the Forester, the Toyota RAV4, and the Honda CR-V.

2016 Jeep Cherokee

 

ENGINE

2.4-litre 4-cylinder / 3.2-litre V6

OUTPUT

184 hp / 171 lb-ft & 271 hp / 239 lb-ft

TRANSMISSION

9-speed automatic

0-100 KM/H

7.0 Seconds

TOP SPEED

N/A

FUEL ECONOMY

10.9 City / 7.7 Highway (2.4 FWD) 11.4 City / 8.1 Highway (3.2 FWD)

WEIGHT

1,797 kilograms (3,953 lbs)

SEATING CAPACITY

5

CARGO VOLUME

1,554 litres

BASE PRICE

$26,695

AS-TESTED PRICE

$34,895

 

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