Jeep wages war with new Cherokee

KNYSNA is becoming the "go-to" place for vehicle launches – last week it was Jeep's turn and next month Citroen will be showing off a new model in the picturesque area.

Launching in a wet and cold Knysna/George area last week, the new Jeep Cherokee sets new benchmarks in the 4x4 SUV segment with several industry firsts.

It's the first mid-size SUV with a nine-speed automatic transmission and rear-axle disconnect as well as a new front-wheel drive configuration and two innovative four-wheel drive systems – Active Drive I and Active Drive Lock with locking rear differential.

The new Cherokee is powered by two petrol engine options: the 3.2-litre V-6 Pentastar and the 2.4-litre Tigershark MultiAir L4. Both are paired to the new nine-speed gearbox. The 3.2-litre Pentastar V6 is the first derivative of the renowned 3.6-litre Pentastar V6, and benefits from the same innovations that earned its larger displacement predecessor industry-wide praise for efficiency, power and refinement.

This contributes to a pleasurable drive as we experienced on the test with reduced noise, vibrations and harshness (NVH) and an outstanding balance of higher specific power output (62.5kW per litre) while delivering fuel economy improvements of 30% versus the outgoing V6 engine.

The 3.2-litre V6 Pentastar engine produces 200kW at 6500rpm, 315Nm of torque at 4300rpm and boasts towing capacity of 2200kg. The 3.2-litre V is available on the Limited and Trailhawk models. Jeep gives fuel economy ratings of 10l/100km on the combined cycle, while CO2is 232g/km.

Efficiency and refinement are hallmarks of the 16-valve, 2.4-litre Tigershark MultiAir L4.

This engine boasts the second-generation "MultiAir2" system that further enhances combustion control, improves efficiency and reduces exhaust emissions. It produces 130kW at 6400rpm and 229Nm of torque at 3900rpm.

Fuel economy for the 2.4-litre Tigershark engine with nine-speed automatic transmission is given as 8.3l/100km in the combined cycle.

The mid-size SUV provides a choice of two innovative 4x4 systems for best-in-class 4x4 capability in all driving conditions: the single-speed, fully automatic Jeep Active Drive I and the Jeep Active Drive Lock including all features of the Jeep Active Drive II and adding a locking rear differential and Selec-Speed Control (on Trailhawk models only).

It is also the first mid-size SUV to feature rear-axle disconnect, resulting in reduced energy loss when 4x4 capability isn't needed and improving fuel efficiency.

The Cherokee will be available at beginning of June. Pricing is as follows:

  •  2.4l Longitude FWD – R479990
  •  3.2l Limited FWD – R505 990
  •  3.2l Limited AWD – R563990
  •  3.2l Trailhawk 4WD – R607990
Whatever the weather, road or track conditions, the Cherokee lives up to Jeep's tradition as a go-anywhere vehicle.  - Bobby Cheetham