Jeep is an American legend, the original 4x4 which gave rise to the generic name - itself an acronym from the WW2 General Purpose Vehicle - and, after a long absence from the UK, it returned a couple of years ago with a range of super tough station wagons - the Cherokees - which have been a huge success, becoming, in the urban fashion stakes, one of the most desirable of the breed, not least because they are an exceptional bargain.

The Cherokee is a big, bluff, Yank Tank, a station wagon much in the mould of that other big, bluff, Yank, John Wayne, solid, dependable, a bit unsophisticated but it truly does the business in the great outdoors and carries maximum street cred in the city.

The 2.5 is the smallest engine in the range, the bigger 4 litre embarrassing many hot hatches and the soon to arrive, special order only, 5.1 litre Grand Cherokee, is a veritable drag racer. Even in this company the 2.5 Sport is no slouch with a very respectable set of figures.

The 2 current vehicles, with different trim and equipment packages run from £16,695 to £22,995 and you get a lot for the money. Even the 2.5 litre Cherokee, the bottom of the range, is well trimmed and equipped with very comfortable, cloth covered, seats, good carpeting, tilt adjustable steering wheel, power steering, electric windows and mirrors, remote central locking, a roof rack, and a 4 speaker RDS stereo, a veritable feast of goodies for the price.

That big four square body may be a little angular but it would surely show well in the survivability stakes and contains a truly remarkable amount of space, with excellent head and leg room and a massive 72 cubic feet of luggage area with the seats folded down, the load area easily reached by a huge hatch.

Some 122 bhp is effortlessly developed by the 2.5 litre, straight six, engine and there is enough torque - 148 lbs/feet to pull nearly 3 and a half tons. Yet, surprisingly for such a big, lazy, engine, it is so responsive that a very fair turn of speed is possible, better than many saloon cars. All that power gets to the road via a drive train that would handle an articulated truck with ease.

A smooth 5 speed manual gearbox - with a rather odd shaped lever - is backed up by a transfer box shift lever which offers 2 wheel drive and part time or permanent 4 wheel action for serious off roading or just wintry conditions on tarmac.

The interior is perhaps a little angular for European tastes with a big square dash containing clear instruments but the switch gear is a bit haphazardly laid although soon got used, a tough, no nonsense, cabin with a very comfortable driving position, less upright than many such vehicles.

Riding on massive Goodyear knobbly boots, the ride might be expected to be firm but it is far from that, surprisingly soft, yet with well controlled damping, little roll and very solid braking from a vented disc/rear drum setup.

The power steering is just about the right weight, light enough to make the big car easy to park and drive in town or off road and heavy enough for good feel, very manoueverable and the high riding position giving excellent visibility, as do the large mirrors.

Jeep wanted the Cherokee to take a fairly big slice of the UK 4x4 market and it has certainly done so, indeed at these prices it could hardly fail to do so. The Cherokee is as at home on the Plains as on your High Street, from the wildest places on earth to the urban jungle.


  • PRICE £16,695
  • 0-60 12 SECONDS


First Published 1995 - Article © Graham Benge 2007

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