Jeep Cherokee Overland — Getting it all

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Cherokee has become the best-selling nameplate in the Jeep stable of sport utilities and crossovers accounting for more than 200,000 units sold each year since its introduction in 2014. So it is no surprise that Jeep has created a high-end model with virtually every available option for those customers who don't want to give up their very capable and stylish ride, but who yearn for a touch of luxury and the latest in technology, safety and infotainment features.

We very much liked lesser trim levels of the Cherokee in previous years, so it came as no surprise that we were impressed with the Overland outfitted with Jeep's 3.2-liter 271-horsepower V-6 — and the list of things that $39,000 will buy on the lavishly equipped 2017 model.

The cabin is outfitted with virtually everything that's available at Jeep as well as a few new items such as a leather-covered dashboard, heated and ventilated seats, berber carpets, Napa leather, a nine-speaker Alpine sound system, and glossy zebrano wood on the upper part of the steering-wheel rim.

The package includes unique-to-Cherokee 18-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, power liftgate, unique body-color exterior trim, cornering lights, sound-deadening windshield and front windows, and driver memory functions.

In the off-road department of which Jeep is famous, the Overland comes with the rugged Active Drive II system, which features low-range gearing and a locking rear differential along with an additional Rock mode for the Selec-Terrain dial. In addition the V-6 has a healthy tow rating of 4,500 pounds.

But you will have to add a couple of optional packages — even to the Overland — to get the full effect of a luxury-like vehicle. For instance you must opt for the $1,495 Technology package to get such goodies as adaptive cruise control, active braking and advanced brake assist, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. And then you will have to plunk down another $1,595 for the Command View Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof.

That brings the bottom line to $42,775 including destination charge for the ultimate Cherokee that includes all-wheel drive and the aforementioned off-road goodies, which sets this vehicle apart from all other mass market compact sport utilities.

The Cherokee comes in five trim levels — Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk, Limited and Overland. For those who desire some of the good stuff, but are on a budget, it's possible for about three grand over the base price of $24,590 for the Sport, to cobble together a fairly well equipped Cherokee Latitude. For instance, the Latitude with front-wheel drive and the V-6 engine together with satellite radio can be purchased for $28,500. Standard features include alloy wheels, a rearview camera, upgraded cloth upholstery, cruise control, keyless entry and full power equipment — not to mention the very attractive, modern Cherokee styling that even after four years on the market still turns heads.

The other engine choice is the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder rated at 184 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. It should prove adequate for most people, but compared to some of the competition's four-bangers it feels a bit sluggish. We recommend the aforementioned 3.2 liter V-6 mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. We found acceleration forceful and smooth. We estimate that the Cherokee can finish off a 0-to-60 run in around 7.5 seconds, about average for top engines in the segment including the turbocharged fours.

Even with its considerable off-road credentials, the Jeep's highway ride is commendably pleasing. The electric power steering provides solid feedback and the front independent suspension and rear multilink setup keeps the Cherokee firmly planted with limited body roll through the twists and turns. And
the Cherokee is remarkably quiet at all speeds. On the downside, the Jeep is not quite as sporty as some crossovers including the Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5, not as adept at handling the curving back roads at elevated speeds.

The interior is well done with a driver-friendly layout and an abundance of storage spaces abound throughout the cabin. The large 8.4-inch display screen (base models come with a 5-inch screen) offers the best read-out of satellite radio information in the industry.

Rear passengers are offered a high degree of comfort in seats that recline and adjust fore and aft. But the excellent passenger space comes at the expense of cargo capacity with only 24.8 cubic feet of storage behind the seats and 54.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

While a well-equipped Cherokee can be purchased for under 30 grand, we would be inclined to treat ourselves to the lavishly equipped Overland with its beautiful styling, passenger-friendly cabin, excellent V-6 performance and its vaunted off-road capability,

Base price: $24,590; as driven, $42,775
Engine: 3.2-liter V-6
Horsepower: 271 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 239 pound-feet @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length: 182 inches
Curb weight: 4,046 pounds
Turning circle: 38 feet
Luggage capacity: 24.6 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 54.9 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 4,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 15.8 gallons (mid-grade)
EPA rating: 19 city, 26 highway, 22 combined
0-60: 7.5 seconds (estimate)
Also consider: Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5

The Good
• Contemporary styling
• Excellent ride quality
• Outstanding off-road capability
• Powerful V-6 engine

The Bad
• Cargo capacity on small side for segment

The Ugly
• Sluggish acceleration from 4-cylinder