Rugged looks, go-anywhere capabilities, and tons and tons of storage space in case you are lost in the middle of nowhere. I could end this review right there if I was lazy enough. But, since I’m feeling extra productive today, I guess I’ll continue writing.
This is not a driver’s car. Well it is, but not in the same way that Road & Track magazine would consider it. When on the road, the steering feels vague, the brake travels a quarter mile before the car starts responding, and slamming the right foot into the accelerator pedal isn’t the first thing you want to do when you get in the driver’s seat. This SUV is just about as fun to drive as any other car though-given the right circumstances. If you were looking for a review that talks about how fun it is to bang through gear changes and how minimal the body roll is–I suggest you read any one of my other articles. With that said, this is a tremendously exciting car, and let me tell you why throughout this article.
Jeeps have received a bit of a bad reputation among car enthusiasts over the last decade or so for their unreliability. The Wrangler crew has always been arguing against this very point in the efforts of supporting what they love, but it did seem like a bit of an up hill battle. But, worry not, that’s what I’m here for. And to aid me, I have this 17 year old Jeep Cherokee with me. 200k miles-it is not an easy feat, only achieved with a handful of cars, others often fall short due to major mechanical issues. This one though, is not far off. With a hundred ninety eight thousand miles on the engine, the car still runs strong, with no hesitations from the engine nor the transmission. Especially considering the fact that the car only has four gears with overdrive, its quite impressive how strong the engine still feels. The 4.0L 6 cylinder engine, though not massively powerful by modern standards, is enough to provide the Cherokee with 225 lb/ft of torque and 190 horsepower. That really doesn’t sound all that impressive, but the overall configuration of the powertrain of the Cherokee does make the car an unbelievably capable off-roader.
The Inline 6 feels extremely well balanced. Barring the occasional mishaps during start-up, I could tell that this engine is a very solid motor that will easily do another fifty thousand miles with proper maintenance. With the Cherokee now being 17 years old, its no surprise that over the years she’s had her issues. However, minor repairs went long ways with this one. Out of the factory, the car even came with a 5 year/100k miles of rust warranty; now that’s not something you find in every car.
The 30-inch tires along with a 4 inch lift, LED headlights and a tire carrier not only appears mean but also is enough to tackle most off-road situations. This is the kind of vehicle you want when you’re driving to climb up mountains. You aren’t constantly worried about hurting the body work, or scraping the bottom of the car going over the smallest of imperfections in the road. Instead, in the driver’s seat of this car, wherever you so choose to go becomes your road. I couldn’t find a single thing that is unnecessary about this car. It has everything you need, and it’ll do what you need it to do. In a sense, this is about as purpose built as it gets-at least from the 2000s. Nowadays, SUVs often come with complicated creature comfort features that no-one will ever really use: features such as air lift suspension and lane departure warnings. But this, this just has the bare minimum of what you need-and that’s quite alright. The leather seats in the car even feels a bit out of place, if you ask me as it is just another thing to be sad about when it inevitably rips after thousands and thousands of miles.
I can’t say that I need to buy myself one of these right now. What I can say though, is that I would love to get one for when I am going on the road for the month long camping trip into the mountains (I’ve been telling myself that I will go on one of those in the near future). This is one of those cars that isn’t just a piece of metal but rather a soulful companion that will take you wherever you so please-the way a loyal canine would. Even in its old ages, the Cherokee will always be eager to accompany any soul adventurous enough to grab ahold of its helm and lead into the wilderness.