The Jeep Cherokee has earned praise since the ’80s for its good looks, reliability, and off-road ruggedness. While some crossovers are just mall cruisers with an SUV body dropped on a car frame, the Cherokee delivers a lot more. Here’s a closer look at the details of what MotorTrend calls “the anti-RAV4

Serious Options

Two packages you need to look at are the luxury Overland, and the off-road ready Trailhawk package. Either way, the base 2.4-liter four cylinder gets swapped out for the 3.2-liter V6, making 271 horsepower. Trailhawk receives a unique and aggressive front end, complete with tow hooks poking through the bumper. Overland specs out the entire option sheet, with gunmetal 19-inch wheels, a huge touchscreen infotainment center, nine Alpine speakers and a subwoofer, and a leather and real wood heated steering wheel.

Real 4WD

Look for Jeep’s Active Drive Lock 4×4 System on the options sheet for the most capable Cherokee you can buy. This is the third-level of Jeep’s 4WD systems. The first two levels offer “smart” 4WD, driving power to the wheels that have traction, and a superior low-speed extreme traction mode for getting you through any icy conditions. The highest level, the Active Drive Lock, includes the above, but adds a mechanical locking rear differential, and five customized modes with Selec-Terrain – Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud, and Rock Mode for rock crawling adventures.

Ride Quality

Cherokee isn’t alone in off-roading ability. The Jeep Wrangler is arguably the best off-roader you can buy, but this capability compromises the on-road ride quality, which reviewers find stiff and bumpy. The Cherokee is an excellent alternative, as it has most of the Wrangler’s capability, but doesn’t beat you up. The seats are surprisingly comfy, and the quiet ride is more reminiscent of Buick or Acura than Jeep. The sound system is impressive, and the classy interior design and ample head and leg room make it solid choice for a road tripper.

Solid MPGs

Thirty-one miles per gallon used to be economy car numbers, about what you could expect out of a tiny Chevy Cavalier. The Cherokee is EPA rated for 31 MPG highway, which is an impressive number for a real Jeep. One of the neat tricks Jeep employs to get this mileage is by disconnecting the rear axle when 4WD isn’t needed. This makes it an efficient FWD cruiser, and capable AWD crawler when needed.

Peace of Mind

Safety is designed into the Cherokee from the start with advanced high-strength steel. This ads tensile strength to the frame for traversing rough terrain, but also protects occupants in a crash, which raises crash test scores. Cherokee has a bunch of Good scores from IIHS, and Superior rated crash avoidance tech like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and rear cross path detection. Europe’s NCAP test also awarded the Cherokee their highest rating of five stars.

Cutting Edge

Utility doesn’t mean you miss out on tech. With the highly-reviewed infotainment system UConnect 8.4, you get HD Radio, 4G LTE WiFi, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and seamless integration with smartphones, smart watches, and even Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant. Cherokee even has an optional wireless charging pad, which is still rare even in brand new vehicles.

Made in the USA

Jeep Cherokee is ranked number one in vehicles with American parts content for 2018. A Cars.com survey takes build location, parts sources, and number of Americans employed in assembly into consideration. The survey results show the Cherokee has 72 percent American parts, and they’re all assembled in Belvidere, Ill., meaning it’s the most American vehicle you can buy.

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