From £27,545
A bit rough, but eager to please

Our Verdict

Jeep Cherokee

Can Italian tech put this once-rugged off-roader ahead of the pack, or is the Cherokee lost in an increasingly large crowd of superior family SUVs?

1 February 2005

Jeep has given the Cherokee a mild nip and tuck and its 2.8 diesel more power (up nine per cent to 163bhp) and more torque (up 11 per cent to 295 lb ft).

The extra go comes from a new variable geometry turbocharger (VGT). Translate that into the effect it has on the Jeep’s performance and you’ll get something like ‘it works damn well’. The Cherokee pulls strongly whatever the gradient, defying the 2150kg kerbweight and accelerating well at motorway speeds.

Also new is a six-speed manual – a lower first gear giving better acceleration and a taller sixth for quieter cruising. The ratios are too close together for such a torquey engine – five speeds would have been sufficient – and while the gearshift is not unpleasant, constantly swapping cogs is tiresome.

From standstill the lower first gear and extra grunt make for surprisingly rapid getaways. In two-wheel drive this can make for interesting exits from junctions. Jeep also claims the new 2.8 brings better refinement. Vibration and harshness are well contained, but at low speeds the 2.8 is noisy, although it does quieten down the faster you go.

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So, more than ever the diesel remains the pick of the Cherokee range. Compared to rivals from Toyota and Land Rover the Jeep is thirstier, dirtier and less refined, but offers more punch and feels more characterful. The new engine is welcome, but we’d look at rivals first.

Jamie Corstorphine

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