Reviews

2018 Jeep Cherokee Introduction


Jeep Cherokee is a mid-size crossover SUV, with available four-wheel drive and superior off-road capability. Cherokee is larger than the Compass, which is larger than the Renegade.

There are no major changes for 2018, though trim levels have been changed, mostly adding equipment. Cherokee was last redesigned for 2014.

The 2018 Cherokee comes as five models: Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, Overland, and the off-road oriented Trailhawk. (The Sport, the previous base model, has been discontinued.) Front-wheel drive is standard, but Cherokee makes much more sense with the available all-wheel drive.

Latitude brings more standard equipment to the entry level, including a rearview camera, high-intensity HID headlamps, roofrails, foglamps, aluminum wheels, and body-colored mirrors and door handles. Latitude Plus is a new model intended to offer more features for the dollar. Limited and Trailhawk models likewise offer more standard equipment for 2018 than previously.

The Trailhawk is all-wheel drive, with Active Drive Lock, a locking rear differential; it also gets skid plates and tow hooks, to go with unique front and rear fascia and ground clearance that’s higher by one inch.

The other models come with front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive optional. Active Drive I is the basic setup, for four-cylinder models. Active Drive II adds a dual-range transfer case. Selec-Terrain adds modes for Sport, Snow, Sand/Mud, and Rock.

The standard engine is smooth and quiet, refined but aging, a 2.4 liter four-cylinder making 184 horsepower, which is enough if there aren’t back-seat passengers or heavy cargo.

The 3.2-liter V6 is more like it, making 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque; with a tow package, it can tow up to 4500 pounds.

A 9-speed automatic transmission is used with both engines.

The front-wheel-drive Latitude with the four-cylinder engine gets an EPA-estimated 21 City, 30 Highway, 25 Combined miles per gallon; it falls to 23 Combined mpg with the Active Drive I all-wheel drive, and the same 23 mpg Combined rating with Active Drive II, but 1 less mpg on the highway.

The front-wheel-drive V6 gets nearly the same, rated at 21/29/24 mpg. With Active Drive I it rates 20/27/23 mpg, and Active Drive II it gets 18/26/21 mpg. The V6 comes with Stop/Start technology, which turns off the engine at stoplights and pauses, intended to save a bit of fuel.

The heavier all-wheel-drive Trailhawk gets 19/25/22 mpg with the I4 engine, and only 1 less mpg with the V6.

Cherokee only gets four stars overall from the NHTSA in crash testing, with five stars for side impact. Active-safety features come on the Overland and Limited models, including lane-departure and frontal-collision warnings, blind-sport monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and parking sensors.

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