I researched this vehicle for months after I test drove one and decided that I liked it. I was and still am weary of the Chrysler brand and was looking for anything I could find that would make me decide against it. Even with the new and untested drivetrain, I was unable to find anything to dissuade me from purchasing it. In the months since then I have been constantly waiting for it to turn into the typical Jeep or Chrysler product that I hear about. Alas, it has yet to dissappoint me and send me to the service department and I am finally comfortable enough with it to decide that I would like to give it a review for anybody who is curious about it. This is for the people who don't want reviews from Wrangler fanboys who bash it because they don't like they grill, and for the people who want a review from a normal person who is quite particular when it comes to spending money on large items. Oh, and as for that test drive....I never test drove another vehicle after I sat in one of these.
I absolutely love the way this thing drives. This thing very much handles like a car and a lot less like an SUV. It has me avoiding the interstate and taking back roads to get home whenever I can. Sport mode is a great feature to have. As far as handling it puts the Cherokee into AWD mode with a 40/60 front/rear power distribution, making for fun driving on curvy back roads. Overall steering is very responsive without being overly sensitive and with little feedback from the road. Steering wheel has a good feel, not to heavy and not too light. My model came with Firestone tires that seem to do a pretty good job of sticking to the road.
V6 is very snappy when you need it to be. 9 speed transmission will try to keep engine revs low, so under light acceleration the vehicle can seem to be sluggish, which is easily overcome by giving it extra gas and making it drop a few gears. Sport mode removes this sluggishness by remapping the shift points and increasing throttle response. The Cherokee becomes very responsive in sport mode, even to lighter levels of acceleration. This makes the vehicle a blast to drive on winding back roads, or in hilly areas where vehicles are typically prone to losing and gaining lots of speed.
During the break-in the transmission was a little jerky, as was expected after reading many reviews before my purchase. Under light acceleration it was only noticed between first and second gear. Under moderate acceleration it could be felt moving between other gears. After about 500 or less this dissappeared entirely. I no longer can tell when this transmission is shifting unless I am in sport mode.
First and second gear in this vehicle are very tall. It will more than happily squall the tires, even with the traction control and the AWD automatically kicking in.
Regarding ninth gear, this gear is very short. Most people will not experience this gear under normal driving conditions. The transmission is designed this way so that people who live in areas with higher speed limits, such as those in western states or in European countries, can achieve better gas mileage while still going 80+ miles per hour. Mine has the tow package with lower gears, and at 70 MPH it runs at 1700 RPM in 8th gear. This seems to bother many people, but it would never be able to do 70 in 9th gear over any distance if they programmed it to do so, as it would downshift constantly and achieve nothing more than extra wear on the components. If you drive under 80 MPH or in hilly areas you are not going to use 9th gear so do not be surprised or upset about it. I, for one, like the idea that i can go 90, if I really have to, without the engine screaming at 3 or 4 thousand RPM.
This is the fifth vehicle that I have owned. The other four have been 4 cyclinder compact cars. This Cherokee is by far the most quiet of them all. Road noise is minimal, tire noise is non-existent, and the V6 is quiet under all conditions. A lot of effort and material was put into making this thing quiet.
Interior is silent as well. No cheap plastics here that would typically rattle and squeak as they rubbed against each other. So far I have not had any odd noises out of this vehicle under normal driving conditons, or when driving over railroad tracks and obnoxious speed bumps.
For being a vehicle that weighs over 4,000 pounds it is hard to complain about the as mileage. I do mostly highway driving or driving on back roads with 45-55 MPH speed limits. When I drive aggressively I get approximately 25-26 MPG. Under my normal driving conditons I have calculated just shy of 30 MPG. This is without the vehicle being entirely broken in yet, so the mileage may even still increase over the next few months.
Sport mode will decrease the mileage, as it changes the shift points and holds lower gears longer. More fun at the expense of more gas used. No real suprise there.
If you do a lot of city driving and are worried about gas then I do not recommend the Cherokee. With first and second gear being so tall, this thing uses a lot of gas in stop and go driving. Any decent amount of highway driving balances this out though.
Interior storage compartments
This thing has interior storage compartments everywhere. The center console has two storage compartments. One directly below the arm rest, which is shallow and perfect for wallets or phones, and a second one below that which is deeper. The console has a USB 3 charging port inside for rapidly charging newer devices, as well as having the typical coin holders inside.
My personal favorite is the storage compartment under the passenger seat. I do not sotre anything in this compartment, but when you open it it perfectly holds large pizzas. No more pizzas sitting unlevel on the seat or sliding around while I am driving.
The dash and overhead console also have little storage bins. The one on the dash is perfect for my sunglasses, while the one in the overhead console is a fairly typical eyeglass holder.
Most Cherokees come with a compact spare that is covered with a little storage bin. My Cherokee with the tow package came with a full-size spare. Much to my surprise I was still able to store a lot of stuff in and around the spare tire. I count this as a hidden storage area, even though it technically isn't one.
Front and rear doors have pretty typical storage bins, rear seat has a fold out arm rest with cupholders, and there are two storage bins in the rear of the vehicle for small, loose items. As an added bonuse, the glove box is incredibly deep. You could stick small laptops in there as well as large tablets. It is nice to be able to keep your valuables out of sight and out of the sun.
The rear cargo area is far from being the largest in its class. This would not be an ideal vehicle for taking a family of 5 on a week-long vacation. It is, however, perfect for what most people will use it for; things such as typical shopping runs, outdoor activities, stuff like that. The rear seats do fold pretty flat, and on my Latitude model the passenger seat even folds completely flat. So a single person or small family could comfortably go on an extended vacation or a kayak adventure somewhere. Overall, the cargo capacity is still on par with or close to that of the competition. It is just a CUV, not an SUV.
Controls and instruments
Some of the climate control settings can only be changed through the touch screen and not through dials or switches. It tells you not to use the touch screen while driving down the road, but in the winter I quickly need to change things, like sending heat to my feet/windshield instead of just the vents. I do not like this but I do not hate it.
Temperature contol is not a dial. This doesn't really bother me, althought it is nice to spin a dial to rapidly change temperature rather than hold a button and look at the screen you aren't supposed to watch while driving.
These are not huge issues for me, I would just rather the climate controls not be partially integrated into the touchscreen radio.
I love the radio controls. They are perfectly placed on the back side of the steering wheel where your hads typically grip, as well as having controls on the touchscreen for the passenger to use.
This vehicle rides very very well. However, most Americans are accustomed to very soft and cushy suspension systems that make you feel like you are floating down the road. This thing does not ride rough, but you will feel speed bumps.
I for one like the stiffer suspension as it increases the handling and responsiveness of the vehicle. I only bring this up as a con for people who might have back issues and are sensitive to being jostled by things such as speed bumps.
Brand reputation & image
Ok so Jeep and Fiat obviously do not have the best brand image when it comes to quality. This perception should not be applied to this vehicle. Nothing to me comes across as cheap or low quality. Just remember that you will be dealing with Jeep service department. I haven't heard the best about Jeep service, but every brand has good and bad dealerships. Just do your research before you get it serviced.
Past personal experience
When I got the vehicle home from the dealership it was getting dark so I didn't give it the best inspection. The next day I checked fluids and pressures. When I pulled the dip stick there was no oil on it at all, not even on the very tip. I had to add 2.5 quarts of oil to it just to get it to within the normal range. The transmission is sealed, so I can only hope it has the proper level of fluid in it. The windshield washer resevoir was empty. A minor inconvenience, but annoying that it came from the factory empty. The tires were also overinflated by 10-15 PSI. This is fairly typical to keep the tires from getting flat spots while the vehicle sits in storage for a long period of time. However, they were well beyond the maximum safe pressure and the dealer should have lowered them to the vehicle's recommended pressure before releasing it to me. Overall I will say this about any vehice; check the oil before you accept it. If the oil is low you should probably demand that the dealer check all of the fluids and pressures so that you do not damage your vehicle during the break in period.
Audio & nav systems
I love the stock stereo in the Cherokee. I always had a subwoofer in my other vehicles and this thing surprisingly puts out a decent amount of bass with the non-upgraded system. It also has speed adjusted volume, so it automatically changes the volume when I accelerate and deccelerate. I love that feature and it blends it in nicely instead of making the change ubruptly and noticibly. Mine does not have the nav system, as I would never pay extra for a GPS that can never be removed and upgraded.
Mine came with good Firestones on it. I have previously had vehicles come with garbage tires that I changed fairly quickly down the road. These have good ratings and I will not change them until they wear out.
Overall styling comes down to personal preference. Myself, I like both the interior and the interior styling. Aspects of the exterior are a little bland, but acceptable. I will not comment further on this as it is up to each individual to decide for themselves when they see it, though the interior is designed and laid out well.
Overall this is a great vehicle. It is a great mix of gas mileage, utility, sportiness, and pleasure to drive. The V6 is great, the transmission is smooth, and the AWD system is fun to drive. At the end of it all I have found nothing that makes me regret buying this car. Any of the negatives I have found are small and to me do not actually detract from the vehicle in any way. Just have to the patience to take the time to research a car before you buy it and it will be hard to be dissappointed.