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Kuyper: Cherokee highlights Jeep strengths in small package

A 2-liter, 184-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine is mated to a shiftable nine-speed automatic transmission in the four-wheel-drive Jeep Cherokee Overland. It is one of three engines available, including a 180-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 271-horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6.
A 2-liter, 184-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine is mated to a shiftable nine-speed automatic transmission in the four-wheel-drive Jeep Cherokee Overland. It is one of three engines available, including a 180-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 271-horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6.

Jeep has taken strides to make its products more fuel efficient. A good example is the 2019 Overland model of the Jeep Cherokee.

The four-wheeler, which was tested recently, came with an optional ($500) 2-liter, 184 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine instead of the stronger 3.2-liter, 271-horsepower V-6. In combined city and highway driving with two adults aboard, the tested Overland averaged 25.7 mpg of fuel (regular) usage. About a year ago, the V-6 Overland engine was tested and its average fuel usage with the same circumstances prevailing was 20.7 mpg.

The V-6 and the turbo four respectively develop 271 and 270 horsepower or virtually the same. The V-6 is capable of pulling a 4,500-pound trailer. The turbo four is limited, if that is the word, to towing a 4,000-pound trailer.

Both engines are mated to a shiftable nine-speed automatic transmission. The four-cylinder Overland cost $37,775 and the V-6 model costs $37,695, an $80 difference for a more efficient Cherokee.

For those interested in a small SUV that is well-equipped to go off-road and can tow a decent amount of trailer weight, the Cherokee beckons.

Cherokee is the small version of the Grand Cherokee SUV and, although similar in design, trim and size differences are reflected in manufacturer pricing. Prices start at about $25,000 for the Cherokee and $31,000 for the Grand Cherokee. They top out at about at $38,000 and $86,000 (6.2-liter, V-8 supercharged, 707-horsepower engine).

Since all Jeeps are designed to go off-road, so does the four-wheel-drive, five-passenger compact Cherokee.

The tested top-of-the-line $37,775 Overland model came with an abundance of off-roading equipment. Ground clearance was 8.7 inches, which means it can cross shallow streams. But one must be careful as crossing a stream more than 19 inches deep could void the warranty.

Off-road prowess can be attributed to an advanced four-wheel-drive system, hill start assist control and settings for snow, mud, sand, rock and normal. The independent suspension is strengthened to endure tough terrain.

The Overland comes with leather trim and power features such as express windows, exterior heated mirrors and door locks. Also standard are power, heated and ventilated front seats and rear liftgate. The rear seats are heated.

There are memory settings for radio, driver’s seat and exterior mirrors. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is heated.

One option that might appeal to some buyers is a $1,445 panoramic sunroof.

New for 2019 are larger headlights and a storage bin in the center console.

A hallmark of this vehicle is the simplicity of the climate controls as well as the nine-speaker sound system, which includes free satellite radio for a year, AM-FM high definition radio, integrated voice command with Bluetooth, MP3 player, auxiliary outlets and iPod port. Navigation is standard.

The cargo floor (three inches wider for 2019) is lighted, carpeted and offers multiple tie-downs. The split rear seats fold absolutely flat. As they do so, headrests automatically fold down, too.

Besides a rollover mitigation system, safety items feature a four-wheel antilock braking system, traction and stability controls, keyless entry with panic alarm, rear back-up camera, airbags in front, front sides, overhead for two rows and for driver’s and front-seat passenger’s knees.

The ride is quiet (good insulation) and comfortable, with leg room in the rear almost the same as that in front.

Cherokee’s upgraded exterior has satin aluminum roof rails, which can safely carry loads weighing no more than 160-pounds, restyled bumpers, redesigned LED tail-lamps, creased fenders, subtle trim lines on doors and rocker panels, a modest rear spoiler and the iconic waterfall grille.

FAST FACTS

Vehicle: Overland 4X4 model of 2019 Jeep Cherokee

Type: four-wheel-drive, four-door, five-passenger compact SUV

Price: $37,775

Engine: 2-liter, 184-horsepower dual overhead cam turbocharged four-cylinder

Transmission: nine-speed automatic

Towing: 4,000 pounds

Fuel tank: 15.9 gallons

Weight: 3,953 pounds

Wheelbase, length, width, height, ground clearance in inches: 106.6, 182, 73.2, 66.2, 8.7

Leg room: 41.1 inches front, 40.3 inches rear

Cargo: 24.6 cubic feet behind upright split rear seats, 54.9 cubic feet rear seats folded flat

Wheels (polished aluminum), tires (235): 19-inch

Brakes: discs

Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles basic, 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain and roadside assistance

Assembly: Belvidere

Information: www.jeep.com

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