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Inexpensive and loaded with rugged character, dual airbags, optional ABS, optional 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine
Rugged character result of ancient engineering, uncomfortable rear seat folds but doesn't split
Available Cherokee Models
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Cherokee Classic and Limited replace the Cherokee Country. A new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is now the base engine for the SE, available with an optional three-speed automatic. New colors include Chili Pepper Red, Emerald Green and Deep Amethyst.
Some things never change much, and the Jeep Cherokee is one of those mainstays. Unlike its posh--and bigger--Grand Cherokee brother, which keeps adding comforts and graceful touches, the ever-practical, affordable Cherokee simply keeps on rolling, looking little different now than when it was first introduced in 1984. This year, however, the Cherokee benefits from some overdue updates, including a new three-speed automatic transmission, optional with the 2.5-liter SE model.
Utilitarian and upright it is, but with a compelling personality that even the Grand Cherokee lacks. The Cherokee Country has been replaced by two new trim levels: Classic and Limited. Four adults fit inside the Cherokee in reasonable comfort, with adequate headroom. Rear legroom is lacking, in a very short seat, and entry to the rear is constricted by a narrow door. Worth noting is the fact that the rear bench folds but doesn't offer a split, meaning you can't haul a toddler and a treadmill simultaneously.
Relatively refined on the road, the compact Cherokee is capable of strutting its stuff when the going gets rough. Acceleration is brisk with the 4.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, courtesy of 190 horsepower, and we highly recommend this upgrade if you select the SE model. The Cherokee's 4.0-liter engine puts the "sport" into sport utility.
SE and Sport models can have two or four doors, while the step-up Classic and Limited editions are four-door only. All are available with either two- or four-wheel drive. Command-Trac part-time four-wheel drive allows shift-on-the-fly operation. Selec-Trac is Jeep's full-time four-wheel drive system. Standard gear includes power steering, tinted glass and power front disc brakes. Four-wheel antilock braking is optional (six-cylinder only), as are power windows and door locks, keyless entry system, cruise control, air conditioning and leather seats.
Despite its age, the original compact Jeep sport-utility remains a sensible choice in its field, more capable than most SUVs of heading into the woods at a moment's notice. What more can anyone ask of a moderately priced on/off-roader?
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