With a medium SUV test due to get underway in Sydney, Mitchell Oke and Tony Crawford are on a mission, driving overnight to get the Jeep Cherokee from Melbourne to Sydney in time. Overall they found the Jeep Cherokee a comfortable road-tripper.
The launch of the all-new Jeep Cherokee was the catalyst that set in motion one of CarAdvice's biggest comparisons yet. The test hinged on getting the Cherokee and nine of its competitors together in Sydney all at the same time, no easy task.
With all but the Jeep parked in the CarAdvice Sydney garage, the only way to get the latest addition to the medium SUV segment to join them, was an overnight road trip from Melbourne.
After a long day of filming in Melbourne, CA Founder Tony Crawford and I grabbed some dinner and hit the road for an all-nighter.
Ours was a Billet Silver example in the 4x4 V6 Longitude specification. For $39,000 it includes a decent list of standard equipment including auto-lights, wipers and auto-dimming mirrors, dual-zone climate control, a power tailgate and LED tail and daytime running lights, though leather seats and navigation are a surprising omission.
The 8.4-inch UConnect multimedia and navigation system, as seen in other Jeep and Chrysler vehicles, is a $2,500 option includes on our Cherokee. When we plugged in our destination the total distance came up just short of 900km from Port Melbourne, Victoria to North Sydney, New South Wales. It was going to be a long night.
Getting comfortable in the Jeep Cherokee wasn't difficult, with plenty of adjustment in the thickly padded drivers seat. Being a step above the entry-level Sport, our Longitude added electric adjustment for the seat-base, backrest and lumbar support.
When you're on a road trip music is a must. Pairing a phone was super-simple, two taps on the touchscreen and the process was underway. Just don't expect to be able to have a passenger complete the procedure while on-the-move, pairing mode is locked the moment you set off.
With temperatures dipping close to freezing throughout much of the journey, the heated seats on the Limited variant would have been welcome, but with the climate control set at a warm-but-not-drowsy 24-degrees we were comfortable.
On the open road the 3.2-litre V6 PentaStar engine, fitted to all but the base model, proved a capable operator.
The engine's 200kW figure is potent for a class that mostly consists of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, and it's ability to produce 316Nm beats all but the diesels.
Floor it and things can get a little raucous in the higher rev range, but with plenty of torque low down it's rarely necessary to subject you or your passengers to its redline.
Teamed with a nine-speed automatic transmission designed by German engineering company ZF, the Cherokee will gladly stay in the meat of its torque band, smoothly shifting up and down a few cogs to match the ebb and flow of the Hume Highway.
With a fairly quiet cabin at speed, the Jeep Cherokee is a capable cross-country cruiser.
After a solid four-hours of driving we reached the halfway mark, surprised to find that the soft seats had remained comfortable. Splitting the driving between the two of us, I had no trouble getting three-hours of sleep while Tony took the helm.
The steering precise at the straight-ahead position, requiring little work to maintain your desired line on the open road.
Ride comfort was good too, with the chunky 17-inch tyres working seamlessly with the suspension to soak up potholes throughout the city and road joins on the highway.
While a technology pack on the Limited model adds adaptive cruise control, our Longitude had to make do with the standard system, which doesn't offer braking on hills so you have to keep a close eye on your speed during steeper descents.
Clear dials and a large digital speedo on the 3.5-inch colour screen helped a lot. Among the plethora of unannounced speed cameras and highway patrol units hiding in the bushes throughout Victoria and along the Hume Highway, it was a delight to have the speed so distinctly displayed.
Our Cherokee drank just under 85-litres of fuel, with an average of 9.6L/100km, making a mid-way fill-up mandatory. Managing to find a half-decent coffee at midnight came as quite a surprise too.
It would have been interesting to have completed the journey in the base 4x2 Sport with a 2.4-litre TigerShark engine. Jeep claim a range of over 1000km from the 60L tank, which should easily have handled our trip.
After arriving in Sydney at 5am with nine hours behind the wheel, all-in-all the trip from Melbourne was uneventful. With a punchy drivetrain, composed on-road manners and a comfortable interior, the new Jeep Cherokee is a capable cross-country tourer.