For anyone who’s read reviews on this site, you’ll know that I’m a proponent of functionality and practicality. Yes, I’d love to drive something manual with ample power (convertible, preferably) 365.25 days a year but that simply isn’t realistic, at least not for me.
If I were a family man searching the SUV market (two cats and 10 guitars don’t count as kids, do they?) I’d need something that hauled everything from children to golf clubs to musical instruments and plenty in between. From going on grocery trips to road trips, practicality is high on my list.
Which brings me to why you’re here: the 2015 Jeep Cherokee, specifically the North Altitude 4×2.
Made in Toledo, OH, the Cherokee is the first Jeep offering to be developed by FIAT and Chrysler.
It still has a strong Jeep-esque stance with the recognizable seven-slot grille and even without the Jeep badging, I think most folks would recognize the brand. The “I didn’t expect that from Jeep” LED day runners eventually grew on me after seeing them on the road for over a year. But with more and more of the strand-based LED lights coming to market, it looks great on the Cherokee.
Overall body shape is easy on the eyes, offering upscale styling from nose to tailpipe and a soft yet strong stance thanks to the smooth design lines.
The $495 Altitude package my tester came with featured upgraded 18” gloss black wheels, many gloss black exterior accents and Continental tires. It looked sharp when framed by the “Bright White” exterior color which I’d personally opt for.
The new available integrated dual exhaust tips give it a modern look that comes when you upgrade the engine, which is a nice lead in to what moves the Cherokee.
A nine-speed transmission comes with all offerings and the 2.4L Tigershark I4 engine (184 HP 171 lb-ft of torque) with a 2,000 lb towing capacity comes standard.
To get the most out of Jeep’s SUV, upgrade to the 3.2L Pentastar V6 that gives you 271 HP and 239 lb-ft. of torque along with a best in class 4,500 lb towing capacity.
With a much larger engine, I imagine your concern is fuel efficiency. EnerGuide testing has 11.4 city and 8.1 highway for the L/100km scale, which is good considering the size of the vehicle. Real world numbers will vary along with how heavy your right foot is.
If you’re feeling adventurous, utilize the off-road capability that Jeep is famous for, although I can see the majority of driving being done on pavement opposed to dirt and rocks. That’s the urban jungle of the suburbs and city life for you.
Handling is great and it’s a very smooth ride for all inside. The Cherokee is nicely responsive for an SUV and the high torque helps get you on the highway quickly and out of tough situations. My week was split nearly evenly between highway and city driving, both of which I enjoyed.
The nine-speed transmission (impressive, Jeep!) is highly efficient and offers good fuel efficiency figures for a vehicle in its class.
So we know that the Cherokee looks great but how does the interior stack up?
Framed by a massive 8.4 inch touchscreen centre console (standard on the Limited and Trailhawk editions, optional on the Sport and North trims) which is also the largest in its class, there’s no squinting at this screen. The only issue with the screen, as is the case with all touchscreens, is the web DNA left behind. But then again, a quick wipe clears it right up.
The dashboard has an available 7 inch customizable display (standard on Limited and Trailhawk) and it’s cleanly laid out, making it easy to quickly read the information.
The seats are quite comfortable and finding my optimal seating position took little time. Even my trusty shotgun-mate (well, my girlfriend, Laura, as she’s better known as) found the seats equally comfortable.
In true Jeep fashion, there’s plenty of cargo space, including their front passenger seat cushion storage that also folds flat. The 60/40 rear seat split, there’s plenty of space with the rear seats down (54.9 cu.ft) and Jeep’s cargo management system make it easy to load up the Cherokee for a long road trip or if you’re the chauffer for family or friends.
The steering wheel is one of my favourite uses of space, with volume and channel selectors on the back of the wheel to maximize space.
The rear seats will fit three passengers comfortably, which is what you should want out of an SUV. It’s all fine to have the driver and front passenger sit in spacious comfort but you shouldn’t be punishing your backseat drivers, even if they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Technology wise, there’s plenty of available options, including blind spot detection, cross path detection, automatic start-stop and a backup camera.
Here’s something that is a sign of the times: a single disc CD player a paid option. Hey, tape players got phased out and with mp3 players and Bluetooth audio streaming, expect the CD player to fade away over the coming years.
Jeep has done a tremendous job with the Cherokee by providing an SUV with a comfortable feel, loads of functionality and storage space, lots of available power and technology and a good looking exterior.
While the import SUV market has been hot in recent years, the Jeep is showing that the domestic market shouldn’t be overlooked.
The versatility of hauling a family, friends or just yourself along with lots of gear in a well put together vehicle is something that Jeep has captured well. With local travel being pushed hard towards consumers and plenty of destinations (or somewhat of an off-road enthusiast) within a few hours of wherever you are in the country, Jeep has a solid offering for you.
If you’re city slicker, the Cherokee can also provide what you need to be comfortably mobile.
Either way, this SUV does what’s asked of it beautifully, plus much more.
2015 Jeep Cherokee North $28,195
$495 Gloss black accents, day light opening mouldings, 224/55/18 all season Continental tires
$895 Safety Tec package (rear park assist, multi functional mirros, mirror turn signals with courtesy lamps, blind spot and cross path detection)
$895 Cold Weather Group (all season floor mats, leather wrapped shift knob, power heated mirrors, heated front seats, heated side mirrors, wiper de-cier, remote start)
$1,595 3.2 Pentastar VVT V6 engine
$800 Uconnect 8.4 inch screen
$295 Compact spare tire
$450 Back up camera
$100 AC tax, Ontario tire surchage
Price as tested $35,415
Yay: Great handling, strong fit and finish, lots of practicality and functionality
Nay: Get rid of the 5.0 touchscreen and make the 8.4 standard, along with the 3.2L engine for a bit of extra cash.