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Jeep Cherokee Limited Diesel review 2014

Craig Duff road tests and reviews the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Diesel, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Diesel power and four-wheel drive mean this Cherokee can go the long way and the hard way.

Practicality is a key part of the lexicon for SUV sales folk. The pitch - and an ever-increasing number of Australians are buying it - is that the high-riding wagons are more versatile than their sedan counterparts. They also offer more room, better view and off-road ability.

The reality is most SUV owners won't need more ground clearance than it takes to jump a kerb. Their elevated view of the world is also just as likely to be obscured by another SUV in the adjacent lane.

As for off-road ability, the all-wheel drive fitted to mid-sized SUVs will get them up a dirt track or down to the beach and that's more than enough for most owners. Indeed, many don't need AWD at all, which is why most models have a two-wheel drive variant. 

The reduced weight cuts fuel use without compromising on space and vision. Some demand more, which is where the Jeep Cherokee enters the fray. It is the only entrant in the class with a low-range option, meaning it's just as capable of hopping rocks and logs as kerbs.

Serious off-roaders demand diesel for its extended range and the Cherokee now caters for that subset with a Limited version that can theoretically cover 1000km. It also brings the braked towing capacity up to 2393kg, which can't be matched in the mid-sized SUV class and means it will happily haul a big boat or a small caravan.

The diesel costs $5000 more than its V6 petrol counterpart but the price also includes the upgraded Active Drive II four-wheel drive. That adds the low-range transfer case but doesn't include the locking rear diff found on the range-topping Cherokee Trailhawk petrol version.

It also means the Limited diesel doesn't earn Jeep's "Trail Rated" title, which is bestowed on the most capable off-roaders in the US company's line-up. In reality the Limited diesel's grip and 185mm of ground clearance will take it where few owners dare travel.

Standard fare on the Limited includes an 8.4-inch touchscreen with satnav and reversing camera, nine-speaker audio, leather upholstery, heated front seats and auto headlamps and wipers. The impressive interior is up there with Mazda's CX-5 in terms of refinement and features.

On the road the Cherokee rides with the best of them. That's no mean feat given it is also handles the off-road rigours without jostling occupants out of their seats. The ride is firm but the initial damping suppresses the smaller hits, then rapidly firms up as the springs start to compress.

The steering is direct and solidly weighted but feedback isn't class-leading. That's not unexpected given it has to cope with kicks and shakes when negotiating rutted trails and puts it on a par with many less capable SUVs.

The nine-speed auto is effectively only a seven-speeder - eighth and ninth can occasionally be achieved but only with a full load and then only by nudging over the posted 110km/h limit. Put that down to Jeep's need to develop the transmission for global markets, that is, countries where 120-130km/h is the norm.

Even so, the claimed 5.8L/100km fuel use isn't unobtainable - CarsGuide managed 7.0L, even when not being reticent on the pedal.

Pricing Guides

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Range and Specs

Blackhawk 3.6L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $19,950 – 39,990 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2014 Blackhawk Pricing and Specs
Laredo (4x2) 3.6L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $16,989 – 26,990 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2014 Laredo (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Laredo (4x4) 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $14,750 – 37,900 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2014 Laredo (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Limited (4x4) 5.7L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $18,860 – 41,990 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2014 Limited (4x4) Pricing and Specs