The new Jeep Cherokee Overland version debuted in January, joining Cherokee Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk in the midsize SUV lineup.
While the smaller Cherokee Overland was inspired by the Grand Cherokee Overland, some exterior changes are evident, including body-color fascias with bright chrome grille and chin extension, body-color lower door cladding and wheel flares, high-intensity-discharge bi-xenon headlights, striking new 18-inch polished-aluminum wheels with five wide sculpted “V” spokes, and a distinctive “Overland” badge on the liftgate.
The five-passenger Overland features a standard 271-horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6 engine with electronic stop and start, mated to a segment-exclusive nine-speed automatic transmission.
It comes with the Jeep Active Drive II four-wheel drive system, and a long list of premium standard equipment. The more-rugged Active Drive II brings an industry-first disconnecting rear axle (improves fuel efficiency when four-wheel drive isn’t needed), and a two-speed transfer case, which provides low-range gearing for off-road driving.
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EPA fuel economy estimates for the Overland are 19 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway. During my week with the Overland, I managed 26 mpg combined, with mostly highway driving.
With the 3.2 V-6, Overland includes a 700-amp maintenance-free battery, dual bright rectangular exhaust tips, and an engine oil cooler.
The interior is richly appointed with a contrast-stitched leather-wrapped instrument panel; new heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel with Zebrano high-gloss wood trim (highly figured heartwood, with distinctive veining); contrast-stitched Nappa leather seats, heated and ventilated in the front, with power-adjustable front seats with four-way power lumbar; memory for driver’s seat, radio and exterior mirrors (heated); and bright door sill plates.
Also included are Berber floor mats with embroidered Overland logo (echoes the Overland badge); a nine-speaker Alpine Premium Audio system; Uconnect NAV/Audio with 8.4-inch touch screen, Bluetooth streaming audio, AM/FM, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, XM Traffic, and Uconnect Access Advantage in-vehicle connectivity.
New Uconnect features include Drag and Drop menu bar, Siri Eyes Free and Do-Not-Disturb.
A convenient cubby below the center stack includes the USB port for connecting a smartphone, an SD card slot, an auxiliary port and a 12-volt outlet, with an angled slot for easy phone storage and access. The contoured dash also features a shallow storage compartment under a pop-up cover.
With Drag and Drop, users can drag a favorite feature or service icon from the apps menu to the main menu bar.
Siri Eyes Free allows for natural-language voice commands to send text messages, place phone calls, access turn-by-turn directions, and more. Do-Not-Disturb can route incoming calls to voicemail, suppress text messages, and, if desired, send a default or customized response in return.
The Overland adds a power liftgate, Parksense rear backup-assist system, blind-spot monitoring with rear-crosspath detection, and a premium insulation group.
There is 8.2 inches of ground clearance, making it possible to reach the most demanding destinations.
My Overland was a gorgeous Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl with Brown/Pearl interior and silver metallic trim on the door armrests, instrument panel, steering wheel, center stack, dash/air vents, shifter surround, and shifter knob.
Seating surfaces, center armrest and the mid door panels/armrests were Pearl with light brown stitching, while the sculpted dash and shifter boot were brown, with the same light brown stitching.
Five exterior colors are available for the Overland, including new Light Brownstone Pearl and Billet Silver Metallic. The two interior choices are Black and Brown/Pearl.
A Technology Group ($1,495) was packed with driver-assist and safety technology, including Full-speed Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking, Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Advanced Brake Assist, Rain Sensitive Windshield Wipers, Automatic High Beam Control, and LaneSense Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist.
The standard Active Drive II system features Jeep’s Selec-Terrain traction control system, which allows the driver to choose one of five customized settings – Auto, Snow, Sport, Rock, or Sand/Mud – for optimum on- and off-road performance.
This feature electronically coordinates and optimizes up to 12 systems, including Selec-Speed Control (Hill-ascent and Hill-descent Control).
A CommandView Dual Pane Panoramic Sunroof added $1,595, and opened the top for a pleasant convertible-like ride through some beautiful fall scenery.
My tester had bag hooks in the cargo area and a removable universal module rack with removable hooks and canvas grocery bag mounted on the driver’s side wall. Lots of other cargo management accessories are available, and utilize the module rack for stability.
Standard safety features include ParkView Rear Back-Up Camera, ParkSense Rear Park Assist, All-Speed Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control, side-curtain front and rear air bags, rear seat side air bags, and front knee-bolster air bags.
Fog lights with cornering lights added a level of assurance around dark turns, and heated mirrors removed the condensation common on fall mornings.
Overland is attractive, luxurious, versatile, mostly comfortable (the rear seats were a little firm), and economical.
Adding $995 destination charges, $295 for a full-size spare, and $3,090 for other options to the base price of $38,395, the total delivered price was $42,775.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.