The Cherokee's made to climb boulders, not gain admission to a swanky bar. Here it is, up close and personal.
With its rounded styling, the last generation Cherokee was derided by some fans as being too soft and girly. So the latest model has been designed exclusively with set squares.
Lift it up
The swing out rear door on older models has been replaced by a lift-up tail-gate.
Not quite dashing
Much of the car's interior plastics have a cheap "I've just slipped back into the '80s" feel to them. Ergonomically it's functional but not particularly enticing.
Step on through to the other side
At just under 4.3m long, the Cherokee is shorter than both its hard-core off-roading competitors, as well as the more car-like Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester. That's probably why the rear bench was made short — too short for comfort, mind. It's flat too, so be prepared to hold on to the overhead hand grips.
Give it the boot
Both the front passenger's seat and the rear bench fold flat to increase luggage space. A retractable and removable luggage cover comes as standard. The boot floor can be lifted up and flipped over to become a waterproof cargo tray.
Electronic stability control (ESP) can be switched off. The second from left button is for hill descent control, which regulates the car speed when you're descending steep 4WD tracks in low-range 4WD mode.
Climate control air conditioning is standard, warming us up during cold winter morns.
The Cherokee's standard six-speaker stereo is about as rockin' as you can get from a non-premium branded sound system. There's an MP3/WMA compatible in-dash CD stacker good for six discs, as well as an auxiliary jack for connectivity to your favourite MP3 player.
You're heading south
The Cherokee's instruments are clear and legible, although nothing spectacular. There's a standard compass which displays only the four cardinal points and the four ordinal points — that's N, S, E, W and NW, NE, SE, SW.
The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel comes with a five-speed auto as standard and is an AU$4,000 option. It sounds unmistakably like a diesel, which makes the great stereo even more of a godsend.
You need to use your key to unlock the fuel filler cap.
Vision is aided by two big side mirrors with convex glass. They're also heated, which is good for those living in cold climates.
Lift it up, part 2
The switch to a lift-up tail-gate allows for a glass window which can be opened separately.
We were thankful for the 24/7 roadside assist that comes as part of the Cherokee's warranty. The immobiliser went on strike for a while, leaving us with a loudly wailing immobile mess until the kindly roadside assistance man unplugged the battery and reset the confused electronic brain.
Poorly done left-hand drive conversion, part 1
The only external door lock resides on the passenger's side door. So, when the immobiliser died, we had to unlock the passenger's door, climb in and then uncomfortably wriggle over the handbrake and gear lever to hop in to the driver's pew.
Poorly done left-hand drive conversion, part 2
Where's the bonnet release? Hiding next to the front passenger's feet, of course.
Switch it up
A switch by the gear stick allows you to flick between two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, and low-range four-wheel drive, which is necessary to straddle boulders and ride roughshod over chasms.
Hey there old timer
Just in case you've forgotten, this is what the previous more "girly" Cherokee looked like.