So we got a 2010 Jeep Cherokee
The general media is rather cliched when it comes to reporting cars. “VW makes reliable cars.” “Audi has the best interiors.” “Chrysler has the worst interiors.” “Jeeps are unreliable.” None of those statements are true. That’s why I get pissed off anytime some car company executive refers to me as a “journalist.” I didn’t earn an electrical engineering degree, start my own business and take crap from my conservative father just to be lumped in with those corporate hacks. That said, the Jeep Cherokee is awful. But only in some respects. In many other aspects, it is rather cool.
Take for instance the styling. No other compact 4×4 looks as tough as the Cherokee. It almost looked as upscale as the Land Rover LR3 in the next lane, or even more so, because of the Jeep’s chrome grille and body-coloured fender flares. The only other vehicles this upright are Hummers, Wranglers, Defenders and G-Wagens, all legendary figureheads.
The “compact” Cherokee is actually taller than my own Jeep Grand Cherokee, although it is shorter in overall length. Also notice the better ground clearance of my black Jeep. This also means the white Cherokee has tons more vertical room.
Cool touches include the chrome side stripes, the metallic roof rails, the wide fenders and the 18-inch aluminium wheels. There is no confusion in its styling at all. Unlike the previous googly-eyed Cherokee, the new one follows a single design theme and sticks with it.
There isn’t much to report at the back, besides some more chrome and the massive rear ground clearance. No chance of scraping the muffler here.
A button on the keyfob makes the rear glass flip open. Things flipping open by themselves is always cool.
The interior is all matte hard plastic. Contrary to popular bias, Chrysler does not have the worst interiors ever. Even the Toyota RAV-4, the Ford Explorer, the Nissan Pathfinder and the Honda Pilot have hard cabin plastics all over. And none of them have that superb UConnect multimedia system with Bluetooth, navigation, touchscreen, USB port and a voice control system that actually understands non-American accents.
Space up front is good, even if the seating position is truck-like. The armrests, seats and even that grab-handle on the dash are covered in leather.
From here on out, things take a wrong turn. There is no padding on the door armrests. There is no centre pull-down armrest. Rear legroom is limited, about the same as a sub-compact car, while the central seating position has cup-holders fixed in the foot space. Also the right-side front seatback is hard plastic, so it pokes the knees of tall people.
That passenger seatback folds forward to become a tray, and combined with the 60:40 split-folding rear seat, the Cherokee can probably fit a canoe inside.
The cargo area isn’t too impressive either, with limited floor space and a high load floor. However, there is a small storage area underneath the floor, and upward volume is available due to the boxy shape.
There isn’t any real problem with the choice of cabin trim and materials. The real issue is the fit and finish of certain panels. Like the uneven fit of the plastic fender flares in some places. And the slight looseness of the window-buttons panel. And the ill-fitting plastics at the lower edges of the front seats. And even some haphazardly-cut rubber trim around the windows. These are only noticeable if you look hard for defects. We’ve also found similar defects in the Toyota Camry and the Ford Mustang, so this isn’t exclusively a Chrysler problem. Both Toyota and Ford are regarded as “quality” products nowadays (ignoring recent recalls), so singling out Chrysler reeks of bias and favouritism by the advertising-driven media.
The Jeep Cherokee can never compete with the Honda CR-V or the Toyota RAV-4 simply because both those Japanese choices are much more spacious and practical. The Jeep is compromised because it is not a crossover. It is a proper offroader. More in the full review.