If you automatically think ”import”,  maybe it’s time to stop.


What a difference 30 years makes.


Memories of our ’86 Cherokee started coming back as soon as I took delivery of our top of the line ’16 Cherokee Overland.


As for the ’86…..it had a classic and  collectible shape.   But as for the innards….not so much.   New transmission at 60-something thousand miles….acceleration best measured  with a sundial….and the feel of the brick that it resembled.


So you’ll excuse me if I didn’t immediately feel at home in the ’16 Cherokee Overland.


Sure….it’s roughly three times the cost of the ’86.    What isn’t up 3 or 4 or 500% over the past 30 years?    But hey….three times the number of gears in the transmission…roughly three times the acceleration and three times the fuel efficiency and three times the “feel”, braking and handling.   You’ll forgive me if I was disoriented, won’t you?


Yes….this Cherokee is a genuine made-in-Toledo, Ohio, USA, certified “luxury rock-crawler” …..with a surprise.


The surprise?


Even with its’ off-road suspension, 4,500 lb towing capacity and Selec-Terrain traction control for sport, snow, sand, mud, rocks…the Cherokee has a nimble and responsive nature….quite poised and frankly more fun to drive than you’d expect an off-roader to be.   More like a sport sedan than the average SUV. Quiet on the road, too.


The Cherokee is a strictly two-row, 5-passenger SUV….up against the RAV 4, Rogue, Equinox, CX5, Escape and others.


Pricing will start in the $20’s with 2WD, cloth and a four cylinder…..and upgrade by upgrade escalate into the $40’s by the time you opt for the Top Dog 4X4 Overland.


Our 3.2 liter, six cylinder, 9-speed automatic Overland 4X4 had pretty much everything that you’d expect in a luxury SUV today.   Perforated, ventilated heated leather, heated steering, blind-spot and cross-path warnings, rear park assist, 9-speaker premium audio, collision warning and auto brake assist, auto hi beams, lane departure warning,18” alloys, keyless remote start,  a panoramic moonroof…..and puddle lights.


Again, all pretty much what any other luxury SUV offers up these days….but with serious off-road capability, too.


The Cherokee’s six cylinder delivers 271 HP and 239 ft lbs of torque.    Mileage is rated at 19 city and 26 Hwy.   We averaged a little over 21 on regular.


Chrysler’s Tiger-Shark turbo four is standard on lesser Cherokees….putting out 181 HP and 171 ft lbs of torque.    This setup will tow 2,000 lbs and get 3 or 4 more MPG’s.


And one more thing.    If luxury, off-road capability, sport sedan-like handling and performance isn’t enough, Jeep’s Cherokee gives you one more little kicker……a little old fashioned All-American Cowboy sass and attitude.


Cadillac has it in their V and V Sport.    Mustangs and Camaros have it.   A couple of Dodges have it.   Most pickups have it.     And Jeep has it.   Just look at any high school or dot-com parking lot.    Look at what the trend-setters are driving….. and see if you don’t agree.

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