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Don Adair: Jeep’s Cherokee offers buyers a profusion of choice

Along the way, there are the usual front- and all-wheel-drive configurations, a choice of two AWD systems and a pair of engine options. (Jeep)

Should you wander into a Jeep showroom in search of a compact crossover, Jeep wants to make sure you won’t walk out for a lack of choice.

The crossover boom has been very good for Jeep, whose sales have exploded since the recession ended. In the super-heated compact segment, it fields the Cherokee, which is a regular font of choice.

The Cherokee is offered in five trim levels, ranging from the utilitarian Sport ($24,790, including destination) to the extravagant Overland ($35,990).

Along the way, there are the usual front- and all-wheel-drive configurations, a choice of two AWD systems and a pair of engine options.

In all its permutations, the Cherokee is quiet, smooth and roomy. Its cabin easily accommodates four six-footers and five in a pinch. Its attractive, ergonomically designed dash incorporates Chrysler’s user-friendly uConnect touchscreen infotainment system. And, this year, all Cherokees get high-output xenon headlights.

Our Latitude ($26,740) tester was equipped with the optional 271-horsepower V-6 powerplant, the Active Drive I AWD system and a raft of comfort, convenience and safety features. Total bill for the well-equipped package: $34,475.

The Latitude slots into the lineup between the Sport and the more luxuriant (leather, standard heated seats, keyless entry-and-ignition, and much more) Limited ($30,590) trims.

One step up, the trail-ready AWD-only Trailhawk ($32,290) features elevated ground clearance (8.8 vs. 8.2 inches), skid plates, tow hooks and off-road suspension tuning.

Key features of the new, have-it-all Overland include premium-leather seats that are heated and ventilated; leather dashboard-wrap; upgraded nine-speaker audio system, with subwoofer; navigation; and extra sound-deadening measures.

Trailhawk, Limited and Overland models can be ordered with adaptive cruise; a forward-collision warning and mitigation system, with automatic brake intervention; a lane-departure warning system; blind-spot monitoring; and rear cross-traffic alert.

Available engines include the standard 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter four and a 271-hp, 3.2-liter V-6 that makes 239 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard. 

Equipped with the optional tow package, a four-cylinder Cherokee is tow-rated to 1,000 pounds. The 3.2-liter can tug a hefty 4,500-lb. load.

All trims can be fitted with either engine. With a curb weight starting at 3,600-pounds, though, the Cherokee is no featherweight. Heavier, AWD models may tax the four-cylinder engine.

Our six-cylinder, AWD tester accelerated quickly, with good strength in the engine’s low- and mid-ranges, and the nine-speed transmission made seamless shifts. I noticed none of the disarming low-speed indecision that plagued earlier versions of this gearbox. Its efficiency bias makes for sluggish downshifts, though.

At highway speeds, Cherokee’s weight lends it a stable, big-car feel. Its well-weighted steering system is suited to long drives, with a sturdy on-center groove that reduces the need for constant driver input.
The center console houses a spacious, two-tier storage bin but incidental storage is otherwise limited. Similarly, Jeep’s use of a full-size spare contributes to a smaller-than-average cargo hold.

In a segment teeming with options, Jeep’s Cherokee offers buyers a smorgasbord of great choices.

Contact Don at don@dadair.com, or visit www.dadair.com.

2017 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4X4
Vehicle base price: $23,695
Trim level base price: $27,454
As tested: $34,475
Key Options: 3.2-liter V-6 engine; uConnect 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment; remote start; keyless entry/ignition; heated seats/steering wheel; dual-zone automatic climate control; rear park assist; blind-spot and cross-path detection; SiriusXM satellite radio; 9-speaker sound system, with subwoofer; power liftgate.
Tow rating: 4,500 pounds
EPA rating: 23 combined/20 city/27 highway
Regular unleaded fuel specified

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