Frankly, it's rather disappointing. In fact, there’s precious little about the manner in which the Cherokee drives that would give any of its rivals any real cause for concern.
The ride, for instance, is almost perpetually choppy and unsettled, with even the smallest imperfection in the road surface causing it to lose nearly all of its composure. Short-wave undulations cause its vertical body control to all but go out the window, while potholes and expansion joints send fairly forceful jolts through the cabin - even at lower speeds. On all but the smoothest roads, the Cherokee doesn’t make for particularly comfortable motoring. That said, on those rare sections of smooth road, the Cherokee does regain some composure, but not enough to make up for its shortcomings elsewhere.
One such shortcoming is its engine. With 192bhp and 332lb ft on tap, the Cherokee feels like it’s capable of hitting its claimed 0-62mph time of 8.8sec, but the manner in which it goes about completing that undertaking isn’t what you’d call calm or refined. The MultiJet II motor is particularly vocal under throttle, while the timbre of its four-cylinder soundtrack is harsh and unrefined - although things do quieten down when you return to a steady cruise.
Then there’s the nine-speed auto ’box, which is not only slow to respond to your inputs but also indecisive about which of its nine ratios it would prefer to select at any given time. Overtaking manoeuvres, therefore, require a good deal of forethought, because you need to factor in the eternity it seems to take for the gearbox to respond to your right foot hitting the kickdown switch. Opting to use the steering wheel-mounted paddles doesn’t do much to remedy this tardiness, either, because the response times are equally as lethargic.
There is at least a decent amount of weight in the steering, but its low gearing doesn’t lend the Jeep a front end that feels particularly enthusiastic about the idea of changing direction. And when it does turn in, you find you don’t have to be travelling all that quickly to cause understeer to rear its head. Taking sharper corners even at low speeds can lead to fairly vocal protest from the front tyres.
The cabin, meanwhile, doesn’t offer much in the way of practical or material appeal to tempt you out of more mainstream rivals. There’s a good-sized - although far from class-leading - boot that offers 448 litres of cargo capacity, while heated nappa leather seats provide agreeable levels of support and adjustability. However, rear passenger space is tight; taller adults will find that their knees touch the front seatbacks, while the optional panoramic roof severely compromises head room. Soft-touch and scratchy plastics don’t do much to lift the cabin’s ambience, either, and the 8.4in infotainment system just isn’t on the same level as those you’ll find in rivals, despite its upgraded software. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto do come as standard, at least.