Jeep Cherokee 2.2

MultiJet Overland

Jeep Cherokee, front static
Jeep Cherokee, full front
Jeep Cherokee, front (2)
Jeep Cherokee, side static
Jeep Cherokee, rear static
Jeep Cherokee, dashboard

ON the face of it, the three formidable German marques have the premium SUV sector pretty much sewn up.

Mercedes, Audi and BMW key fobs act like a magnet to prestige-conscious British buyers. But look a bit closer and you'll find a few alternatives - Jaguar in the shape of the F-PACE, Volvo with the XC90 and Jeep, currently enjoying a strong comeback, is represented here by the Cherokee.

Now available in topline Overland trim, it combines cabin luxury with genuine off-road ability and decent on-road performance that doesn't cost the earth in terms of running costs.

At close to £40,000, the Overland isn't cheap but the spec includes just about everything you could wish for.

Brightly polished alloy wheels, heated and vented front seats, Nappa leather seating, power tailgate, dual climate control, touch screen with sat-nav and even heated steering wheel are all there. I'm not so sure about the part wood/leather design of the wheel, however...it looks more Cadillac than SUV.

Over in America, the Cherokee comes with a gutsy 3.2-litre V6 petrol engine, but in Britain it's a much more frugal - yet still very smooth - 2.2-litre turbo diesel which has ample punch and is more refined than many of its rivals. With a maximum tow weight of 2,495kg, it will certainly fit the bill for most caravan or trailer owners.

With 197bhp available and a recently introduced nine-speed automatic gearbox, the tall five-seater is a relaxed cruiser and behaves nicely over twisty roads with limited roll angles and secure handling.

The steering is a tad woolly and somewhat light by British tastes, however.

In true Jeep tradition, the Overland can do exactly what its name suggests. Thanks to Active four-wheel-drive and a low range mode for the gearbox it will traverse just about any terrain it's pointed at. Hill decent control and settings for sport, snow, sand and mud look after all eventualities.

Only the restricted ground clearance limits its potential against more utilitarian off-roaders.

Of course, most owners won't put these technologies to the test, but they can rest assured the Cherokee's capabilities outreach their own ambitions.

Smart though the new cabin is, it's not as roomy as some rivals. Although headroom is generous, shoulder space is fairly limited when three are carried in the back seats.

Legroom is more acceptable thanks to the tall seating position. Boot space is restricted by the high load platform, nevertheless about 715 litres of luggage can be carried when the rear seats are folded.

The current MultiJet four cylinder diesel spins out the miles nicely with an official average of 46.3mpg which tallies with a tax efficient CO2 of 160g/km. In a mix of motoring between heavy traffic and motorway cruising I averaged 34mpg with a best of 39mpg on a leisurely cross country run.

FAST FACTS

Jeep Cherokee 2.2 MultiJet Overland

Price: £39,950

Mechanical:197bhp, 2,184cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 9-speed gearbox

Max Speed: 126mph

0-62mph: 8.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 46.3

Insurance Group: 36

C02 emissions: 160g/km

Bik rating: 28%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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