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Quick Spin: 2016 Jeep Cherokee Overland 4×4

Kamil Kaluski January 18, 2017 Featured, Jeep Reviews, Quick Spin 10 Comments

Jeep says that the Grand Cherokee is made of the best stuff they have, or something like that. I would agree. Having reviewed several versions of the Grand Cherokee, I loved them all, and I would own one if it was available with third row seats. There is something that just makes the Grand Cherokee better than most of other Chrysler products.

With the Cherokee Overland model, which Jeep launched about a year ago as a mid-model year 2016, and carrying it over for 2017, Jeep is trying to put some of that that Grand into the smaller Cherokee. It is basically the top-of-the-line Cherokee model, most easily identifiable by it body colored trim and polished wheels.

Most evident of the Overland’s improvements over its lower model siblings are inside. Leather covers everything and the seats are wrapped very soft, quality leather. All other trim and materials are significantly upgraded, too. There are also all the features one would expect in a top-line CUV; nav, great audio system, big screen, heated/ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. This Cherokee no longer feels like a rental car you have to live with for a weekend but rather a pleasant space where no one would mind spending time in traffic in on their daily commute. It’s simply smooth and comfortable.

The Overland is available only with the 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 powering either front or all wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. It has 271 horsepower and 239 lb.-ft. of torque and gets 19 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway in the 4WD version. There is the annoying start/stop function which can be disabled but comes back on every time the engine is restarted.

This was my first time driving the Cherokee for an extended period of time and I must say that it was better than I expected. The V6 engine is a significant improvement over the four-cylinder engines on lower trim models. It is smooth and has plenty of power. What I did not love was the programming of the automatic transmission – in Auto mode it was a bit lazy, probably focused on fuel economy, and in Sport it was too harsh and kept the engine at high speeds when not really needed.

What really surprised me about the Cherokee was its size. From the driver’s seat, there did not seem to be any less space than in the Grand Cherokee, perhaps slightly narrower. The big difference was in rear seat space, especially the legroom, which is smaller. The cargo area did not look significantly smaller than the Grand Cherokee either, despite the numbers saying that it is 24.6 cubic feet versus 36.3 for the Grand Cherokee.

The point here is that despite these two being totally different vehicles, those differences may not be so visible to the casual buyer. Buyers will see the V6 engine, AWD, interior and cargo space, and the fact that both vehicles drive fine. They may not understand why the Grand Cherokee is significantly more expensive. And that, bringing the Cherokee closer to the Grand Cherokee, may have been Jeep’s plan.

The 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland 4×4 starts at $38,395. The Technology Group adds forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and other such things for $1495. Destination charge is $995. Also available but not fitted to pictured vehicle is the Heavy Duty Protect Group with skid plates and a full-size spare, and a Trailer Tow Prep Package.

Disclaimer: FCA provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review.  All images copyright Kamil Kaluski/Redusernab 2017.

  • JayP

    $40k? Damn.
    I’m really out of touch with vehicle prices I guess.

    • Alff

      As is my salary.

    • ptschett

      Heck of a lot of money for what it is. I’m looking at spending about that on a well-equipped quad cab 4×4 Ram 1500.

  • 0A5599

    “Having reviewed several versions of the Grand Cherokee, I loved them all, and I would own one if it was available with third row seats.”

    If you want to go back several model years, there’s the Commander, which is mechanically a three row Grand Cherokee.

    • Unfortunately, the third row is useless to any human whose legs reach past their carseat.

    • Maymar

      I’d say the Durango is literally a 3-row Grand Cherokee, but it’s not really meant for the (small o) overland stuff that Kamil is into. Although, the Hemi still comes with low range, and I suppose if they get cheap enough used, lots of the Jeep stuff should be compatible.

      • I looked at the Durango… did not love it for some reason.

  • outback_ute

    I’d want to be very sure the reliability issues have been addressed before touching one. A work colleague has one that needed a new transmission.

    That’s a large difference in cargo space to not be visible! A few inches of width would account for a decent portion, and presumably the GC has a slightly longer load floor so perhaps the cargo cover height makes up the rest.

  • Ross Ballot

    You were much nicer about the Cherokee than I was:
    http://redusernab.info/2016/05/23/loaner-review-2016-jeep-cherokee-trailhawk/

  • mrh1965

    I’m sorry but this thing is just ugly.

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