Our first sojourn with the Jeep Cherokee was with trail-rated 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, and then the top of the line 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited, which was fine for us because we got to evaluate all the toys and tools. But as we noted at the time, we didn’t get to evaluate the base Sport model.
Now two years later we’re back, this time not with the Sport but rather next step up, the 2016 Jeep Cherokee Latitude, one notch from the bottom. Instead of a $23,395 msrp for a Cherokee Sport with front-wheel drive, the Cherokee Latitude…well, it gets complicated, because the window sticker for our test model doesn’t reconcile with the consumer website.
Here’s what we’ll tell you. According to the window sticker (in the specification sheet below) of our test 2016 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4 had a starting price of $27,195. That’s with the four-cylinder and front drive, because our test vehicle adds the 3.2-liter V-6 at $1,745 and includes Jeep Active Drive II to the standard nine-speed automatic transmission, a $995 add on. That doesn’t match up with the website, which says a Latitude including the Active Drive 4×4 is priced at $27,275, with the V-6 engine adding the same $1,725, making the Latitude with Active Drive II 4×4 and the V-6 come to $29,000, before other options.
Curious and curiouser.
But on we go. In equipment, moving to Latitude nets a change to 17-inch painted alloy wheels (replacing 17-inch steel wheels), upgraded cloth seats—our notes say “durable looking”—with off-white contrast stitching, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rear back-up camera, and a front passenger seat with under-cushion storage and fold-flat seatback. Our test Latitude also included an Altitude trim package that includes 18-inch gloss black alloy wheels, gloss black molding, fascia applique, grille surround, roof rails, exterior badging. Tack on $795, for turning everything that was shiny “metal” to shiny black.
Other useful packages on our test 2016 Jeep Cherokee Latitude included the $1,045 Safety Tec group, the $845 Cold Weather Group, $295 power driver’s seat, and Uconnect 8.4, FCA’s infotainment system with a high-resolution 8.4-inch touch screen at $795. The Uconnect system had the following updates for 2016: Drivers have a “do not disturb” function that turns off incoming telephone calls and texts, and the ability to “return with text,” allowing the driver to send one of several canned messages.
New for 2016, Uconnect 8.4 also gets Siri Eyes Free, a Drag and Drop menu bar, Sirius Tune Start, and the owner’s manual accessible through the system and on the screen instead of that fat book that takes up half the glove box. Check out an FCA video here.
Navigation isn’t included in Uconnect 8.4, but the system is “navigation capable.” You can talk to your dealer about it…
Something to talk to everyone about is the acceleration of the Cherokee with the 3.2-liter V-8. This a smaller-displacement version of the 3.6-liter Pentastar engine used elsewhere in the FCA lineup, and with 271 horsepower and 239 lb.-ft. of torque in a sorta relatively lightweight 4,000-pound-plus chassis, the 2016 Jeep Cherokee fairly scoots.
The high center of gravity—it’s a crossover, remember—robs the Cherokee of of nimbleness in curves, and as the Active Drive II 4×4 raises the Cherokee an inch over front wheel-drive or Active Drive I 4×4 system, it loses bit more. Active Drive I is an all-wheel drive system, requiring no intervention by the driver. Active Drive II, however, has a dual-range transfer case, and can be put into low range at the touch of a button for what Jeep calls “enhanced climbing ability as well outstanding crawl ratios for severe off-road conditions.” The Cherokee’s performance in off-pavement/low μ conditions are improved with Selec-Terrain, with traction control settings for snow, sand, and sport. Our test Cherokee also had hill descent control, although we’ll confess that we didn’t take it off road.
Despite the off-pavement—if not “trail rated” like the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk—credentials, the Cherokee Latitude is still roadworthy and a good-if-not-great choice for a road trip. The front seat are comfortable for a long ride, the back seats have sufficient leg room for adults. The rear seat can slide forward, too, good for moving child/baby seats closer to the front.