2018 Jeep Cherokee Driving Impressions

The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is a Chrysler global engine (called Tigershark), powerful enough for the globe maybe, but with no power to spare. No room for a heavy load. With five occupants and/or a dozen cinderblocks in back, it’s a slug.

For the small fuel cost and extra price, the 3.2-liter V6 with nearly 90 more horsepower is a better call. It’s quick, confident and refined. It does make the Cherokee heavier in front, so it’s less nimble, and that’s a consideration. The V6 might not be the call for rugged duty, like a lot of driving on dirt roads. But it’s the call for sure if we’re talking highway towing.

The 9-speed automatic can be balky, indecisive and late to shift. Sport mode makes it better.

Cherokee behaves okay on the pavement, about average. The steering is crisp and the ride well-damped, but for everyday driving, there are better crossovers.

Off the road, where Jeeps rule, it’s another matter. With an I4 engine and the Active Drive II system, the Cherokee’s backwoods talents are amazing.

A Cherokee Trailhawk can conquer hills like you wouldn’t believe, while continuing safely and very slowly back down, using the hill descent control. With its taller ride height and off-road tires, at low speeds, the Trailhawk absorbs almost everything.

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