By Patrick James on 2016-03-26 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Jeep Cherokee 2.2
JEEP has always been an iconic name, synonymous with go-anywhere motoring - not to mention innumerable war movies.
Desirable yes, the best quality? Not always. But that has changed significantly.
It now has the more rounded look of a European SUV/crossover and the interior is light years ahead of its predecessors.
The recognisable seven-slot grille remains with trapezoidal wheel arches and distinctive light clusters which feature slim LED daytime running lights. These sit high for water fording and lie above a projector headlamp.
Trim levels include Longitude, Longitude plus and Limited, plus three engines, a 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel, the new 197bhp 2.2-litre diesel and a powerful V6 petrol.
The range topper driven here is also competitively priced at just under £37,000, for those looking for an alternative to luxurious mainstream competitors.
For that price you get a fully specced up, nine-speed automatic four wheel drive vehicle which has proven off-road capability.
Whether the majority of drivers will ever venture further off road than perhaps a muddy field at a car boot sale or towing a horsebox to a gymkhana, again on a muddy field, is open to debate.
But it is good to know it is in the locker if needed, particularly in challenging winter conditions.
The Jeep Active Drive I four-wheel drive system automatically switches between front and all-wheel drive when required and the manual selectable terrain system offers up to five different four-wheel drive modes to ensure drivers employ the most suitable settings for the prevailing conditions.
For a mid-sized all wheel drive motor, it also reasonably cheap to run with the turbo diesel tested here offering a claimed 49.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 150g/km.
The front-wheel drive 140bhp version claims 53.3mpg and emits just 139g/km of CO2.
With a starting price of around £25,000, every model has good equipment levels. The centre touch screen in the instrument cluster available in either monochrome or colour.
On the centre console there's a choice between a five-inch colour touch-screen for the Uconnect media system and, in a first for this class, an 8.4-inch display.
Even the entry-level Longitude model comes with cruise control, parking sensors and dual-zone air-conditioning as standard and the goodies improves the higher the spec (and price).
The Uconnect connectivity system is one of the cleverest and simplest to use. It includes Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, music and audio streaming capability and even allows voice commands to send text messages.
This model included and impressive option of the full-length CommandView sun roof and a pad that can charge some smart phones without the need to plug them in.
The interior feels high quality with soft-touch materials, leather seats and trim to steering and gearknob with the instrument panel has a stitched cover.
There's also stitching on the centre and front door arm rests. The driver's seat can be specified to adjust electrically, have a memory function and can be heated or cooled.
In practical terms, the rear seats that fold and recline as well as sliding backwards and forwards to maximise either leg room or boot space.
The 200bhp turbo diesel has plenty of pace, propelling the car to 60mph in just 8,6 seconds while the nine-speed automatic gearbox is seamless.
The improved suspension means the vehicle feels composed, with little tendency to wallow, as some SUV are prone to do.
The quality of the interior and good soundproofing materials means occupants are well insulated from road and engine noise, but the large door mirrors do generate some wind noise.
It is a safe place to be having been awarded five stars by EuroNCAP and has a full complement of airbags, plus assisted braking, traction and stability controls and more than 70 available safety features.
For further practicality, the glovebox storage is deep and large enough to hold a tablet or small laptop computer. There's a covered bin on top of the instrument panel giving secure storage for a wallet or phone and the front passenger seat folds flat and has hidden, in-seat storage courtesy of a flip-up passenger seat cushion.
Jeep's Cargo Management System, which has a universal module rack mounted on the side of the rear cargo area with hooks, and a removable grocery bag. Sliding rear seats mean owners can choose between maximum boot space or more rear leg room.
Boot space with the rear bench as far back as it will go is 591 litres, but sliding it forward increases that to 714 litres.
Jeep Cherokee 2.2 MultiJet Auto Limited
Mechanical: 197bhp, 2,184cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 9-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
Combined MPG: 49.6
Insurance Group: 29
C02 emissions: 150g/km
Bik rating: 28%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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