In order for you a 4WD with real off-road capacity there are a squillion giant wagons to select from, the highest sellers being Toyota’s LandCruiser Prado and the Isuzu MUX. If none of these does it for you, there’s all the time the 4WD one-tonne utes, led by Ford’s Ranger and the Toyota HiLux.
However if you’d like your honest dinkum, bunyip chasin’, dust magnet offroader in a smaller measurement, say one thing nearer to a mushy roader SUV just like the Mazda CX5, your choices are fairly restricted. To at least one model, actually. Jeep.
The 2019 Jeep Cherokee is the primary main replace because the 2014 mannequin.
The Trailhawk we’re testing sits on the high of the line-up and prices $48,450. It’s powered by a three.2-litre V6, matched with a nine-speed computerized.
Whereas extra bitumen-focused Cherokee variants can be found with front-wheel drive (from $35,950) and high-range-only all-wheel drive (from $41,950), Trailhawk is the complete off-road bundle, with Jeep’s part-time, dual-range, locking rear differential Lively Drive Lock system as customary, plus beefier suspension, raised experience peak (by 36mm to 221mm), entrance tow hooks, bash plates, all-terrain 245/70 Bridgestone tyres on 17 inch alloys (however an area saver spare), hill descent management and Rock mode added to the traction management menu.
Trailhawk’s power-adjustable, heated driver’s seat has a brief cushion and minimally bolstered backrest, so whereas snug in a fundamental sense it’s not significantly supportive.
A compact, environment friendly sprint has every thing shut at hand, loads of storage and two every of USBs and 12 volt sockets. Touchscreen infotainment consists of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, seamless Bluetooth, navigation, voice management, digital radio and premium Alpine sound.
A agency rear bench could be tightish for legroom with tall occupants up entrance, and for headroom with the optionally available full size sunroof fitted. It’s effectively arrange for youths, with elevated seating, good imaginative and prescient out of the facet home windows, vents, storage and a few USBs.
Cherokee has computerized emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and rear cross site visitors detection as customary. Trailhawk provides computerized parking, whereas adaptive cruise is bundled with partial leather-based upholstery, cooled entrance seats, heated, slide-adjustable rear seats and some different frills for $1450.
Most automotive makers bailed out of mid-capacity, naturally-aspirated V6s years in the past, due to their inherently inefficient nature. In contrast with smaller capability four-cylinder turbocharged engines, they lack usable, accessible torque, require deep, frequent drinks and produce comparatively excessive CO2 emissions.
So regardless of having 9 ratios to play with, the three.2-litre V6 in Cherokee doesn’t actually work, particularly with near 1.9 tonnes behind it. Peak energy of 200kW at 6500rpm sounds heroic, however the V6 struggles beneath 3500rpm. Its 315Nm of torque at 4300rpm is simply too little and 2300rpm too late for a 4WD engine.
It does the job OK on the town the place the transmission’s intently spaced decrease ratios and a responsive accelerator disguise its inefficiencies, but it surely received’t pull eighth or ninth at freeway speeds, so that you cruise alongside in sixth or seventh, the transmission kicking again with a lurch to as little as third on hills, then looking incessantly because it tries to maintain the revs north of 3000rpm.
Because of this, open highway gasoline economic system is horrible. The take a look at automotive averaged 11-13.6L/100km (on common unleaded) on a Melbourne-Sydney return run on the Hume — about twice as a lot as a four-cylinder turbodiesel would use on the identical journey and at the least 50 per cent greater than an environment friendly four-cylinder turbo petrol engine. The 60L tank offers you a secure vary of simply 400km.
Jeep claims a most towing weight of 2200kg. For those who strive that out, carry a few jerry cans for fill-ups between servos.
Pushed gently round city, the V6 used 13-15L/100km with computerized cease/begin serving to its trigger. Once more, a four-cylinder turbo engine could be way more frugal.
Jeep presents Cherokee with 2.Zero-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol and diesel engines in different markets, however not right here. That’s a mistake.
Cherokee makes use of an SUV-style unitary development physique with impartial suspension at each ends. It’s a properly tuned compromise for management and compliance, so Trailhawk is extra agile, assured and safe than most bigger 4WD wagons and the experience, although agency, is snug and absorbent even on a tough bush monitor.
In low vary Rock mode Trailhawk will stroll up, or down, a nasty, rutted, steep slope with spectacular consolation and management, aided by a particularly oblique 48.three:1 crawl ratio. It has its limitations off highway — a comparatively shallow 480mm fording depth, for instance — however, when issues get critically soiled, no comparably-sized SUV can contact the Jeep.
Assault of the gremlins
En path to Sydney, in Albury, the Trailhawk’s transmission turned caught in second gear and the engine fault sprint mild got here on. The coolant temperature gauge stopped working, but the engine overheating mild additionally flashed. Bizarre.
I ended the automotive and restarted it. As is usually the case when digitised electrics go haywire, every thing returned to regular, however I took the automotive into the Albury Jeep supplier for a verify. He ran the fault codes and will discover no issues, so he reset the engine fault mild and we continued. The remainder of the journey to Sydney and again to Melbourne was trouble-free. Jeep additionally investigated once I returned the automotive, however may discover no drawback both.
Coronary heart says
I do know Jeeps have their points, however they’re simply a lot sexier than Toyotas, Nissans, Mitsubishis and all the opposite drop lifeless boring 4x4s on the market.
I don’t desire a large 4WD as a result of I’d be paying for area I don’t want. I desire a smaller one with comparable off highway functionality and all of the creature comforts too. This appears to be like like my solely possibility.
Suzuki Grand Vitara from $25,990
Previous engineering and fundamental specification, however the Suzuki presents off highway functionality and an affordable worth. It runs a 122kW/225Nm 2.Four-litre petrol four-cylinder with five-speed guide or four-speed auto and has half time, dual-range 4WD.
A succesful, snug, well-equipped offroader caught with an engine that’s about as improper a selection for one of these car because it’s doable to make. Model reliability baggage refuses to go away.
Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk
Guarantee/servicing: 5 years; $2155 over Four years
Engine: three.2-litre V6, 200kW/315Nm
Security: 5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross site visitors alert
Spare: Area saver