Emma Jayne Williams

New Cherokee brings versatility, craftsmanship – and lots of technology

The 2015 Jeep Cherokee Limited four-wheel-drive has a base price of $30,395. The Cherokee was introduced last year as a replacement for the Jeep Liberty, which itself replaced the previous Cherokee model in 2002.
The 2015 Jeep Cherokee Limited four-wheel-drive has a base price of $30,395. The Cherokee was introduced last year as a replacement for the Jeep Liberty, which itself replaced the previous Cherokee model in 2002. Submitted photos/Fiat Chrysler Automotive

Jeep has been building purposeful vehicles for over 70 years, and continues to offer owners a vehicle with class-leading capabilities, versatility and craftsmanship, as well as a sense of security to handle anything asked of it.

For 2015, the all-new Cherokee offers four models: Sport, Latitude, Limited, and the epitome of ruggedness, the Trail Rated Trailhawk.

Prices range from $23,995 for the front-drive Sport to $30,595 for a four-wheel-drive Limited. Sport, Latitude, and Limited offer FWD and 4WD models, with four-wheel drive adding $2,000. Trailhawk offers only four-wheel drive, as it is a fully loaded off-road vehicle.

Two new engines are available, both mated to a segment-first nine-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy has been improved more than 45 percent, thanks in part to Jeep’s industry-first rear-axle disconnect, reducing energy loss when four-wheel-drive capability isn’t needed, and to Cherokee’s new engine stop-start technology on models with the 271 horsepower 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6 engine.

Engine Stop/Start technology lowers emissions and saves fuel by shutting the engine off when the vehicle comes to a complete stop. The driver doesn’t notice the operation, as all auxiliary electronics continue to function and the engine restarts automatically when the brake is released.

Due to the stressors of the system, starter and battery systems have been upgraded for durability, and tested for over 300,000 off/on cycles. The new battery boasts 700 amps with absorbed glass mat technology. AGM batteries are made with fiberglass mesh between the battery plates to absorb and contain the electrolyte.

A battery sensor checks the battery’s charge and discontinues stop/start until the battery is properly recharged. Stop/start requires no input from the driver and can be disabled if the driver wishes.

The 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter MultiAir2 Tigershark I-4 engine now has a revised fuel tank, new fuel-filler neck, new fuel cap, modified vapor-purge canister, new air cleaner, and new engine downpipe to be rated a Partial Zero Emission Engine in the 14 states with California Air Resources Board regulations.

Highway fuel economy ratings of up to 31 mpg and a driving range of nearly 500 miles on a tank of gasoline are big pluses.

For this review I drove a Cherokee Limited 4X4 powered by the 3.2-liter V-6 engine with stop/start system and dual bright exhaust outlets, all included in an options package that added $1,695 to the base price of $30,395.

My Limited was deep True Blue Pearl with striking Indigo Blue/Brown premium leather-trimmed bucket seats, brown carpet and brown door armrests, riding on 18-inch polished-aluminum five "V" spoke wheels mounted with touring tires.

Wheels are also available in 17-inch off-road "Y" spoke aluminum with black shading, 17-inch unpolished aluminum "V" spoke and 17-inch full-face steel with five wide, flat spokes.

The premium leather-trimmed bucket seats were included in a Luxury Package, a $1,695 option. The package also contained bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlamps, power liftgate, heated/cooled front seats, and driver’s seat memory.

Besides the polished wheels, my tester had luxurious amenities such as bright lower fascia appliques, heated turn-signal mirrors with approach and courtesy lamps, LED daytime running lights and taillights, black headlight bezels, a power/locking fuel door, and Keyless Enter 'n' Go with passive entry, panic alarm, and remote start.

Ten interesting exterior colors are offered – depending on model – such as Eco Green Pearl Coat, Granite Crystal Metallic Clear Coat, Anvil Clear Coat and, exclusively for the Trailhawk, Mango Tango. Interiors are offered in three colors – Black/Light Frost Beige, Black, and Indigo Blue/Brown.

The new Safety Tec Group for $995 added Blind Spot and Rear Cross Traffic Detection, ParkSense rear park assist and the signal mirrors with courtesy lights.

For $1,494, a Technology Group brought lots of safety and convenience features, including – new for 2015 – Full Speed Collision Warning with Low Speed Crash Mitigation, which can stop the vehicle in certain circumstances. Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist with Stop, Advanced Brake Assist, LaneSense Lane Departure Warning, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go were also included.

Adaptive Cruise maintains a preset distance between vehicles, adjusting speed as necessary and even stops your vehicle if traffic stops. To restart and resume cruise control, a gentle tap on the accelerator is all that is needed. There is a period of adjustment when driving vehicles with ACC with stop/go, but overall, combined with collision warning and crash mitigation, the system should provide more safety and driving confidence.

The package also included rain-sensing windshield wipers with de-icer and automatic high-beam headlight control, for even more convenience and safety.

In fact, Cherokee has over 70 safety and security features, such as a new ParkView backup camera; electronic roll mitigation, all-speed traction control, brake stability control, antilock brakes, hill-start assist, trailer-sway damping; multi-stage front air bags, side-curtain front and rear air bags, front and rear seat side air bags, front knee air bags, and active headrests.

Cherokee also has the LATCh child restraint system, with anchors for the rear outboard seats and tethers for all three positions.

Included in the safety features are Jeep Active Drive I on certain models and Jeep’s renowned Selec-Terrain traction control system on all 4X4 models. Active Drive I is fully automatic and helps improve both over- and understeer, delivers yaw control, and balances torque distribution via the braking system.

Selec-Terrain allows the driver to choose from up to five customized on- and off-road settings for best performance. Settings include Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud and Rock. Up to 12 systems are coordinated to offer the enhanced control including: drivetrain control module, electronic brake controller, electronic stability control, transmission controller, powertrain controller and hill-ascent/descent control.

This Jeep is versatile in any configuration, with 2,000-pound towing capability on standard models and best-in-class 4,500 pounds on V-6 models with the towing package.

Cherokee has a comfortable, well equipped, sculpted interior for a stylish as well as versatile, ride.

Its front bucket seats – with sculpted sections for each body area – hug and support with plenty of room to relax, while the rear outboard seats are almost as comfortable and roomy.

Front passengers have 39.4 inches of headroom and 41.1 inches of legroom. Rear outboard passengers have 38.5 inches of headroom and 41.3 inches of legroom, with slightly less in the middle.

LED ambient lighting illuminates the front footwells, the front cupholders and the rear map lights; the front seats are heated, with 8-way power adjustment and 4-way lumbar adjustment for the driver; and the tilt/telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls is heated.

Storage and hauling capability are enhanced by front passenger in-seat storage, 60/40 folding/reclining rear seatbacks, fold-flat front passenger seatback, bright roof rails with utility hooks and bag kit, and the Jeep Cargo Management System.

Besides the eight cargo tie-downs and cargo net, the system includes a cargo bin, collapsible cooler, first aid/emergency kit and off-road accessory kit, all secured to a rack in the cargo area. A tonneau cover is now a stand-alone option for all Cherokee models.

My tester had standard UConnect 8.4A AM/FM/SXM/BT with voice command, one year of satellite radio and six months of UConnect Access; 115-volt outlet, three 12-volt outlets, audio jack; and UConnect 8.4AN with HD radio and GPS navigation, an $845 package, which also included SiriusXM Travel Link and Traffic (five year subscription). Nine amplified speakers with subwoofer added $395.

The 2015 Jeep Cherokee Limited has Jeep 4X4 capability, with excellent on-road handling and ride, class-leading fuel economy, world-class craftsmanship, and state-of-the-art technology. Destination charges added $995, for a total delivered price of $38,510.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne William have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.