Jeep Cherokee rides the range

Jeep Cherokee
Jeep Cherokee
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The modern-day aerodynamically styled Jeep® – as opposed to jeep – is a far more comfortable vehicle than the 1940s original, containing as it does all the creature comforts we have come to expect - a solid roof, ergonomically designed seats, a fixed windscreen, power steering and an all absorbing suspension to name but a few.

Unlike that which has gone before, the new Jeep Cherokee has been designed with European drivers and roads in mind - so as heavy an emphasis on the on road ability as for the off. Indeed, 25 per cent of buyers will select these as their company car, according to Jeep. It is also being billed as the safest, most environmentally friendly Jeep ever.

Aesthetically it has all the features we have come to associate with the 21st century incarnation - rugged stance, raised ground clearance, seven bar grille, trapezoidal wheel arches and roof rails.

And, although the Jeep is essentially associated with 4x4 driving, this new range includes a 2WD option which is expected to be the preference for about 10 per cent of buyers.

In fact the car’s default driving set up will be front-wheel-drive with the system sensing when more traction is need and automatically switching to 4WD within 300th of a second.

Engines at present number one - the Fiat developed 2.0litre MultiJet II turbo diesel - but with two power outputs - 140bhp and 170bhp.

A hefty 3.2litre Pentastar V6 petrol engine will be available on the special-order Trailhawk versions in the UK at the end of the year.

Transmissions number two - a six-speed manual and a very smooth nine-speed automatic which is well worth a test drive and possibly stumping up the extra cash despite the fact that it is not fitted with paddle shift.

If the majority of your driving in on tarmac the 140bph unit is more than adequate. In front-wheel-drive mode official stats show average economy of 53.3mpg and emissions of 139g/km. The 4WD set-up with the same engine clocks up 50.4mpg and 147g/km. On the road it proved feisty enough for all comers.

If your working day starts with wellie boots and includes mud tracks, steep slopes and wet grass, the 170bhp unit might suit you better. Average economy has been measured at 48.7mpg and emissions at 154g/km. Needless to say it has plenty of unerring power at its disposal.Performance figures show the Cherokee can travel from a standing start to 62mph in 10 to 12 seconds, depending on engine size and transmissions.

On the road the Cherokee proved trouble free. Off-road it proved as confident and efficient as you’d expect.

And while the 2WD gives the Jeep look, if your budget allows, the 4WD option is the one for fun.