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Jeep Cherokee [KJ] (2002-2007)

GOING FOR A NATIVE AMERICAN (some text hidden)


Introductionword count: 95

There's something about a Jeep Cherokee that's distinctly definitive. After all, the Cherokee first arrived here in 1993 with left hand drive imports having been available since as far back as 1984. It rapidly became a premium product, in huge demand amongst urban trendies. As it grew older it fell from favour a little, but the all-new model, introduced in 2001 has resurrected the Cherokee as one of the 'must have' 4x4s. Tracking down a decent used example isn't easy, as many owners aren't keen on being parted with their slice of prime American beef.

Modelsword count: 22

Models Covered: Third generation Cherokee - 2001- to date: (Five-door four-wheel drive Estate: 2.4, 3.7 petrol 2.5, 2.8 diesel [Sport, Limited, Predator])

Historyword count: 404

When it was launched in the UK in 1993, the Cherokee wasn't exactly box-fresh, having already served an eight-year commission across the pond. Nevertheless, British buyers soon took it to their hearts and for a brief period in the mid-nineties a Cherokee was a far safer investment than bricks, mortar, gold or the BCCI. It was relatively affordable and it made an interesting alternative to the existing crop of 4x4s that were either resolutely agricultural or self-consciously effeminate. Here was something that the Marlboro Man would probably drive when his horse went in for its 12,000-mile service. Given this rugged appeal, it was easy to forgive the Cherokee's faults. There was less rear-seat space than you'd find in a Peugeot hatch and the fake wood trim looked like something purloined from a motel that charged by the hour. Nevertheless, in those boom years when fuel was merely extortionate, the Cherokee made a strange kind of sense. Even when Jeep tried to replace the thing with the Grand Cherokee model, for that was its purpose, UK buyers stayed loyal and the Grand Cherokee was subsequently positioned as an upscale alternative. Towards the end of its days, the old square Cherokee didn't even make the invite list in comparison tests with the better compact SUVs such as the Ford Maverick and the Land Rover Freelander and the time had come for something completely different. The 'new' Cherokee is cut from different cloth. Dubbed the Liberty in the US, where customers had grown fatigued by a new Cherokee every month, this latest model takes a fundamental appraisal of all things Jeep and shamelessly slathers these design cues liberally about itself. The Cherokee remained largely unchanged bar the introduction of a more powerful 2.8-litre version in 2003. Then in 2005 the Jeep was subjected to some mild upgrades and a styling refresh. Would-be buyers can sport these models by the shapelier bonnets and 7-slat grilles. The Cherokee's popularity was on the slide by early 2006 when Jeep added a more advanced ESP system to deliver improved on-road traction for driving on snow, ice or wet surfaces. Prices were cut at the same time to help it compete with more modern rivals. Only the 3.7 V6 and 2.8 CRD engines were available by this stage although a Predator special edition with the 2.4-litre petrol unit was offered for a while. A brand new Cherokee was launched in August 2008.

What You Getword count: 109

A vehicle that's loaded with equipment and ability (both on and off-road). The interiors display a fair degree of plastic hide and there's a cutesy 'round' theme going on, with round door handles and air vents and broad arcs on the instrument binnacle and door trims. What's perhaps a pity is that this is probably the first Jeep model that could have been built by anybody else. Whether this is a compliment given the excellence of some of the emerging rivals or an indictment of the watering down of the Jeep bloodline depends on your standpoint. What's not up for debate is that it's a better car than before.

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Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
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