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2017 Jeep Cherokee Overview
Somehow it doesn’t seem right to call a Jeep a crossover, but the 2017 Jeep Cherokee could be labeled a crossover with attitude, bridging the gap between a unibody-constructed family crossover and a truck-based body-on-frame SUV. The Cherokee has the underpinnings of a sedan, but retains some fairly solid off-road capabilities. And that’s one of the differences between the Cherokee and such competitors as Honda’s CR-V and Ford’s Escape, neither of which can take the same off-road pounding as this compact Jeep.
For 2017, Jeep has yet to announce any changes from the current Cherokee lineup other than the deletion of the limited-production 75th Anniversary Edition trim. Look for this small people-hauler to now sport 5 trims: the Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk, Limited, and flagship Overland.
All versions but the Trailhawk come with standard front-wheel drive (FWD); the Trailhawk packs Jeep’s heavy-duty Active Drive II 4-wheel drivetrain (4WD), which offers low-range gearing and a locking rear differential. The other trims can be optionally equipped with either the Active Drive II system or a light-duty Active Drive I 4WD system, which is essentially an all-wheel-drive (AWD) setup. Each 4WD configuration features a terrain dial that offers settings for different driving surfaces and conditions. The Active Drive II system also adds a “Rock” mode to handle mountaineering adventures.
The Cherokee offers a 184-hp 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) powerplant standard aboard each trim, mated to a 9-speed shiftable automatic transmission that manages 171 lb-ft of torque. FWD versions are estimated at 22 mpg city/31 highway/25 combined, trims with the Active Drive I system at 21/28/24, and trims with the Active Drive II 4WD configuration at 21/27/23. Don’t look for neck-snapping acceleration from the I4, though it’s certainly adequate for running errands or the rush-hour commute. Out on the highway, the 9-speed automatic is slow to downshift, so plan your passing maneuvers with care.
Available on all trims except the Sport is a 3.2-liter V6 engine that also mates with the 9-speed shiftable automatic, but puts out 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque. EPA-estimated mileage with a V6-equipped Cherokee is 21/29/24 in FWD garb, 20/28/23 when toting the Active Drive I 4WD system, and 21/27/22 when equipped with Active Drive II 4WD. The Trailhawk, with its standard all-terrain tires, gets a combined 22 mpg with either the I4 or the V6. Towing is maxed out at 4,500 pounds with the V6, and a 6-cylinder Cherokee with Active Drive I 4WD scooted from 0-60 mph in a respectable 7.4 seconds.
Though the entry-level trim, the Cherokee Sport still boasts such standard features as remote keyless entry, cruise control, telescoping tilt-wheel steering, reclining rear seats, and a 6-speaker audio system with a memory card slot. Move up to the higher Cherokee iterations and you get standard upgrades like a dual sunroof (front power opening), 9-speaker premium audio, and Bluetooth-integrated Uconnect infotainment and telematics with smartphone apps.
For those more adventurous souls, the Cherokee Trailhawk offers a higher stance, an off-road suspension, skid plates, tow hooks, and a larger driver info display.
A towing package is available on all trims, and the Latitude and higher variations offer a Luxury group that boasts high-intensity-discharge (HID) headlights, premium leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, memory for driver settings, and a power liftgate.
All Cherokee trims come with the usual array of government-mandated safety equipment, while some added safety features, like front knee airbags (all trims) and a rear-view camera (the Latitude and higher trims) also come standard. The Technology Group, an optional safety package available on the Trailhawk, Limited, and Overland trims, includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with advanced braking assistance, turn-signal-integrated mirrors, Parallel and Perpendicular Parking Assist, rain-sensitive wipers, and lane-departure warnings. Note that blind-spot alerts are not currently available on the Cherokee lineup.
The government gives the current Cherokee 4 out of 5 stars for overall crashworthiness, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives it a best possible score of Good on all test except the newer small-overlap frontal offset, where the Cherokee scored a second-worst Marginal rating.
Challengers to the 2017 Cherokee include the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, each of which offers more cargo space and a better I4 powerplant, as well as the Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5, with both of these latter being a blast to drive compared to the Jeep. But note that Subaru’s Forester and Crosstrek, both similarly sized and equipped, might give the Cherokee a run for its money when venturing off the beaten path.
Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.
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