Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 Jeep Cherokee Overland 4x4: The Ultimate Premium Off-Road Compact Crossover

Highlight: With the V6 engine, the Cherokee is capable of towing up to 4,500 pounds.

Test Vehicle's MSRP: $42,775 (Base MSRP: $24,490)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; LED tail lamps; and a tire pressure monitoring system

Standard Equipment (Base Sport Model): 17-inch wheels; a 9-speed automatic transmission; active fuel saving grille shitters; headlight that turn off (only); cloth manually operated front seats; a manually operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a power manual foldaway mirror; a 5-inch infotainment screen; rear reading lamps; a cargo management system with four; and a remote keyless entry system

Standard Equipment (Overland): 18-inch wheels; a 3.2-liter, 6-cylinder engine; a start-stop fuel saving engine; HID bi-xenon headlamps; a leather wrapper instrument panel; power front seats (with memory control for the driver); wood/leather trim steering wheel; Nappa leather; ventilated/heated front seats; heated steering wheel; a dual zone automatic climate control system; a back up camera; a 10-speaker Alpine premium touchscreen system with HD and satellite radio; a navigation system; a power liftgate; a blindspot monitoring system; a rear cross traffic alert system; parking aids for backing up; 8.2 inches of ground clearance for off roading; and active 4x4 active drive system with selection modes for driving conditions

Options: a forward collision warning system with active breaking; a parallel and perpendicular parking assist system; a radar activated cruise control system; rain sensing windshield wipers; automatic high beam headlights; a lane keep assist system; a full size spare tire; and a panoramic sunroof

Other Trim Levels:

Sport; Latitude; Limited; and Trailhawk

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker with AM/FM

Bluetooth Connectivity: Standard

USB Connectivity:  Standard

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder/184-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage:

What’s New: The higher end Overland trim is new to the line up for the 2016 model year. Also for those models equipped with the brand’s easy-to-use Uconnect infotainment system, they have a new drag and drop menu bar to personalize the screen as if it was a smartphone.

Why: The Jeep Cherokee is in many ways a spin-off of the larger Grand Cherokee, offering a number of on-road and off-road amenities. This roomy compact crossover is so much more than a typical car-based utility vehicle on steroids like many of its segment competitors.  

The compact Jeep, which offers a smoother ride than its older sibling, the Grand Cherokee, is available in a 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder engine. The vehicle is also available in a front wheel drive or several 4x4 configurations.  

While most vehicles in the segment might be available with one all-wheel drive system, the overly capable Cherokee is available in three, four-wheel drive systems. With the systems, the vehicle is capable of plowing through snow, sleet, sand and some rock climbing, too. This is truly an all-weather and all-road vehicle.

The baby Jeep also has the best towing ability in its class for those opting for the 6-cylinder engine, upwards of 4,500 pounds.

Moreover, there are a variety of models to select from, depending upon one’s lifestyle. The vehicle can be outfitted with the latest luxury amenities, too. Our higher end Overland trim  offered a car-like ride and a premium interior with leather and stitching surrounding the instrument panel and doors in a smaller package than the pricier and larger truck-like driving capabilities of the Grand Cherokee. Some of the premium features that were available on our Jeep included a lane keep assist system, an electronic blind spot system, a forward collision braking system and a radar-activated braking system. Yes, the Jeep Overland we reviewed could easily wear the Land Rover badge. In our opinion, Jeep is definitely pushed itself into premium crossover territory with the new Overland.

But: The high end Jeep pushes into the price range of luxury compact crossovers marquees from Mercedes-Benz and Audi. However, to be fair, those established makes lack the overall capabilities provided by the Jeep heritage.

And like a number of vehicles today, the Cherokee’s easy-to-use infotainment screen lacks the ability to add a CD. Moreover, the white leather in our Overland means one needs to take extra precaution to keep the interior spotless.

Lastly, the styling of the Jeep’s laid back polarizing grille is still somewhat controversial. Either you will like it or hate it.

Verdict: For traditional Jeep lovers who yearn for a compact crossover-type SUV that is capable for both on-and-off road driving surrounded by the latest premium feature and high tech safety driving aids, the Cherokee is the vehicle.  It’s the right size. It’s the right height. It offers a breakout style. It offers a 4 or 6 cylinder, which is a rarity in this segment. And it’s priced right, too! And for those seeking to keep the vehicle on traditional streets and yearn for something more than the offering in the segment, the Jeep is worth checking out.

Competition: Chevy Equinox; Ford Escape; GMC Terrain; Honda CR-V; Hyundai Tuscon; Kia Sportage; Mazda CX-5; Nissan Rogue; Toyota RAV4; Subaru Forester; and VW Tiguan

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