In 2014, the Jeep Cherokee in Miami was revived into a new model with a classic name. With the 2016 release, that design didn’t change and we are okay with that. The design itself is the best one yet, and it’s more refined and aerodynamic than the older Cherokee models you remember. Speaking of more refined, Jeep also bumped up the technology in the Cherokee, giving the 8.4-inch Uconnect system a much needed upgrade. Except for a revised V6 engine, the powertrain options remain the same — and they all still provide reliable and familiar Jeep performance.
With a few tweaks in the technology and performance department, and its fresh redesign only a couple of years old, the 2016 Cherokee is ready to take on the market.
Still Just as Popular
Before we explore the Cherokee, it’s important to take a look at how much people actually like the Cherokee’s revival. The classic name was slapped on a brand new model, which you might figure would create some problems in the Jeep world, right? Thankfully it didn’t, and this risky move from Jeep paid off.
Top Ten SUV
The 2016 Cherokee made Autobytel’s Top Ten SUVs of 2016 list. If you don’t know, Autobytel is a widely respected online vehicle research source — which means it was no easy feat for the 2016 Cherokee to win this award.
It’s still early in the year, and the Cherokee has already won, not only top accolades from Autobytel, but also the Texas Auto Writers Association award, which means things are looking good for this model year.
Compact Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas
The 2016 Jeep Cherokee Limited and Trailhawk were both awarded the honorable Compact Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas Award by TAWA (Texas Auto Writers Association). TAWA took both Jeep models out for extensive testing and evaluated them based on overall quality, comfort, and design. Since the Cherokee was awarded, that means it went up against some of the toughest competition the other manufacturers had to offer and still came away victorious.
Coupled with these awards, along with overwhelmingly positive reviews on Edmunds — 4 stars overall — I think it’s safe to say Jeep enthusiasts are okay with the new model being labeled the Cherokee, and that this revival counts as a success.
A Whole New Design
It might not be new compared to when it was first released in 2014, but this design is still turning heads, especially when people see the Cherokee name. That old boxy, clunky, and inefficient drive people knew and loved is long gone. In it’s place, we now have a polished, sleek, and refined SUV.
The front-end is the first thing that catches your eye, given that it’s rather unique in the SUV world. The traditional slotted Jeep grille is bent in the center by a stiff line that runs from side to side underneath each headlight. The hood now runs down in between the headlights and LED daytime running lights, encompassing the grille and stopping at the top of the front-bumper. Because of this, the headlights are placed on each side of the hood just above that defining line, and match the slim and sweeping arch of the hood.
This curving nature flows up over the hood and onto the roof, tapering off at the back. Rounding the design of the front, the Jeep logo is angularly branded above the grille slots, which are met by a wide front bumper with the other half of the grille nestled in the center. On higher trims, another set of LED lights graces each side of the bumper.
Overall, it’s a very handsome and unique design. But, that angled cut-line that runs underneath the headlights and through the grille is something much more than a bold fashion statement – we’re talking improved aerodynamics.
The Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen available on higher-level trims was tweaked, and now gets Siri Eyes Free compatibility, a new drag-and-drop menu bar, and a new Bluetooth functionality. On a side note, the 8.4 and 8.4 NAV are essentially the same, except for the GPS capability available on the NAV version. Both versions come equipped with a dial knob that makes flipping through long lists a breeze, with easy to navigate menus and large vivid icons tying together a very user-friendly interface.
With the introduction of Siri Eyes Free, iPhone users will now be able to have a full-fledged phone integration experience. This functions the same way as a lot of Android devices connected to the system through Bluetooth, and allows iPhone users to make calls and texts hands free — as well as stream music or get maps and directions from an iOS operated device.
The new drag-and-drop menu bar is a huge plus, and the Uconnect system is now more user-friendly because of it. Now, you can organize your most used icons right on the menu bar, and configure it the way you want it. It may sound like a small alteration now, but this subtle enhancement might surprise you when you are actually driving because you no longer need to search where an icon is located. You can quickly glance at it to make sure your finger connects properly, then get your eyes back on the road.
The last tweak Jeep made is adding a new Do Not Disturb function. If enabled, this function will send your phone calls straight to voicemail and can generate an automatic reply to text messages. That way, you don’t even need to lift a finger if you don’t want to be bothered when driving.
Refined and Reliable Performance
There are two engine options available for the 2016 Jeep Cherokee: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder Tigershark engine with 184 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque, or a 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 that puts out 271 horsepower and 239 lb-ft of torque. The first engine comes standard on all Cherokees, and the V6 is optional on every trim level except for the Sport.
Now, the revised Pentastar is able to provide the same amount of horsepower, torque, and fuel economy while giving the driver and passengers a smoother and quieter ride. Again, maybe a tiny tweak, but it makes a world of difference after you’ve noticed it.
The 2.4-liter Tigershark remains relatively the same, and is still the go-to for those who don’t need the extra horsepower and torque for off-roading.
Since there are four-wheel drive and two-wheel drive options, fuel economy isn’t cut and dry.
When a Cherokee is paired with a 4×2 system and the 2.4-liter/V6 engine, the 2.4-liter engine is able to get an estimated 25 mpg combined (22 city/31 highway) on the FWD models, and 24 mpg combined (21 city/29 highway) when the V6 is dropped in it. With Jeep’s Active Drive I 4WD system the Cherokee’s 2.4-liter returns 24 mpg combined (21/28), and the V6 gets 23 mpg combined (20/28).
Finally, when the Trailhawk is equipped with Jeeps Active Drive II 4WD system (and off-roading tires) the V6 returns 22 mpg combined, which coincidently is roughly the same combined mpg from the four-cylinder.
Another Successful Year
Thanks to the praise and fame it’s gained from the rewards in 2015, and already the two in 2016, it’s safe to say the Jeep Cherokee is going to have another successful year.
Jeep must have decided the adage, “don’t fix something if it’s not broken” fit the bill.