The new Jeep Cherokee.
The new Jeep Cherokee.

2014 Jeep Cherokee launched from $33,500

CRAWLING back from the muddied automotive wilderness, the Jeep Cherokee is back starting from $33,500.

Absent from showrooms for a couple of years, the Jeep Cherokee has some sleek new modern lines with a contemporary take on the seven-slot grille but with a heavy emphasis on maintaining its off-road ability.

And the early verdict? It's good, very good.

In fact the Jeep Cherokee is laying claim to being the most adept off-roader in this segment. And given the trails it easily passed this week in the Flinders Ranges, it's hard to argue.

Perhaps the closest off-road rival would be the Land Rover Freelander, which is a reasonable step up in price with similar specification.

The range is a four-prong attack, starting with a two-wheel drive Sport variant powered by a four-cylinder engine starting from $33,500. Then comes the 4x4s, the Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk all given life by a V6 petrol - the diesel variants will arrive later this year.

Sport come with the Uconnect touch-screen stereo with Bluetooth connectivity, air con with rear vents, power park brake, cruise control, reversing camera, 17-inch alloys and a full-size spare wheel. Rear parking sensors are a $500 option.

Longitude adds four-wheel drive capability with drive mode selector, leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob, dual zone air con, auto lights and wipers, power driver's seat adjustment and boot opening. This model can be optioned-up to gain the larger touch-screen with sat nav, Alpine stereo with subwoofer ($2500) along with the "Electronic Convenience Group", which includes remote proximity entry and keyless Enter-N-Go, 230V auxiliary power outlet and wireless charging pad for $900.

The Limited variant takes a step up in luxury, with leather-trimmed heated power seats, bi-xenon headlights, larger 18-inch aluminium wheels, larger colour display for the driver, the 21.3cm Uconnect touch-screen, sat nav, front and rear parking sensors, and the amped-up Alpine stereo.

This variant can get a panoramic sunroof for $1900 as well as the $900 Electronic Convenience Group.

Also available is the $3000 "Technology Group", which includes the full safety gamut such as Advanced Brake Assist, Lane Departure Warning Plus, Auto High Beam Control, Forward Collision Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Blind-spot Monitoring and Cross-path Detection, ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist.

Then there is the hardcore Trailhawk, which has the tougher off-road front and rear fascias, wheel flares, tow hooks, skid plats, off-road suspension, diff-lock four-wheel drive system, 17-inch polished aluminium wheels and red stitching throughout the cabin.

It has the same availability of options as the Limited.

Jeep Cherokee.
Details: Five-door mid-size two or all-wheel drive sports utility vehicle.
Engines: 2.4-litre in-line four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 137kW @ 6400rpm and peak torque of 232Nm @ 4600rpm; 3.2-litre V6 petrol 200kW @ 6500rpm and 316Nm @ 4400rpm.
Consumption: 8.3 litres/100km; 10 litres/100km (combined average).
Towing: 2600kg, tow ball rating 260kg.
Bottom line: Sport 4x2 $33,500, Longitude V6 4x4 $39,000, Limited V6 4x4 $44,000, Trailhawk V6 4x4 $47,500.

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