When I first heard Jeep was about to can the Patriot and keep the Compass I was a bit put off. It’s not like I particularly loved the Patriot, but it was a helluvalot more appealing than the first-generation…

2020 Jeep Compass North 4×4 Road and Trail Test

2020 Jeep Compass North
Jeep’s Compass compact SUV was all-new for 2018, while this North trimmed model moves into 2020 completely unchanged. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

When I first heard Jeep was about to can the Patriot and keep the Compass I was a bit put off. It’s not like I particularly loved the Patriot, but it was a helluvalot more appealing than the first-generation Compass, at least to my eyes, plus it offered some mild capability off-road. Despite my silent petition Jeep followed through on this rumour and the Patriot was discontinued in 2017, but fortunately Jeep gave the Compass a completely new life that same year for the 2018 model, transforming it from a slightly better looking version of the initial ugly duckling, into something really quite fetching. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
With no shortage of style, the Compass offers up great design from all angles. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Believe it or not, the first-gen Compass ran for 10 years, from 2006 to 2016, with only one significant facelift in 2011. That’s when Jeep turned it from a Liberty wannabe to a mini Grand Cherokee, at least from the front, while the totally new second-generation Compass pulls even more cues from the since-updated and much more handsome Grand Cherokee, resulting in a really smart looking compact crossover SUV front to back. On that note I can’t go without mentioning rear end styling similarities to the all-new Volvo XC40, but to be fair to Jeep this shapely domestic came on the scene a full year before the new entry-level Sino-Swede, so maybe it was Jeep that influenced Volvo. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
The Compass’ wide, narrow grille is unique, other than sharing its design with the larger Grand Cherokee. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

It wouldn’t be the first time Jeep made an impression on a luxury brand. Anyone who thinks the Mercedes-Benz Gelandewagen (G-Class) merely landed on the scene in ‘79 without any homage paid to Jeep’s iconic CJ/Wrangler (plus Land Rover’s Series I/II/III/Defender and Toyota’s Land Cruiser J40/70) is dreaming, and let me tell you that this Compass not only offers premium styling, but does a pretty good job of aping a compact luxury utility as well. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
This near base model still gets fog lamps and a nice set of 17-inch alloy wheels. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

You’d need to step up from this second-rung North example to Trailhawk, Limited or High Altitude trim in order to feel truly pampered, although this just-over-base model is still very nicely finished inside. It gets a soft-touch dash that wraps all the way around the instrument panel and under the infotainment head unit before stretching across each front door upper. The door inserts are made from supple padded leatherette, similar to the armrests that also get nice cream and copper dual-tone contrast stitching to match the leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, shifter boot, and seat upholstery. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
Wonderful little design details are everywhere, like this salamander hiding below the windshield wiper. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Those seats are bolstered in leatherette with attractive hexagonal-patterned black cloth inserts, and are very comfortable thanks to good inherent design as well as four-way powered lumbar support. Yes, four-way lumbar; a feature many premium brands don’t offer until moving up through their options lists. 

The Compass switchgear is all high in quality too, with the standard dual-zone automatic HVAC system’s main dials rimmed in chrome and rubber, while Jeep provides a separate climate control interface within the centre touchscreen that lets you swipe up and down to easily set the temperature, not to mention adjust temperatures of the two-way front seat heaters and ultra-hot heatable steering wheel. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
Sharp looking taillights once again remind of Jeep’s flagship Grand Cherokee. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The infotainment system does much more, with really diverse entertainment choices from the usual radio selections to HD and satellite radio plus Bluetooth streaming audio, as well as navigation with accurate route guidance and really detailed mapping, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a nice big reverse camera with active guidelines, and more. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
The Compass is ideal for all types of off-road terrain. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Some additional $29,645 North model features include 17-inch alloy wheels on 225/60 all-seasons, auto on/off headlamps, cornering fog lights, body-colour side mirror housings and door handles, bright daylight opening mouldings, black roof rails, deep-tint sunscreen glass, proximity-sensing keyless access, LED ambient interior lighting, and illuminated vanity mirrors, while the $26,150 base Sport model just below features an electromechanical parking brake, pushbutton ignition, heated and power-adjustable side mirrors, tilt and telescopic steering, cruise control, six-speaker audio, a media hub with an aux input and USB connectivity/charging port, a second-row USB charger, a 115-volt household-style power outlet, two 12-volt chargers, powered windows, a forward folding front passenger seat, a capless fuel filler, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring, a block heater, and more. 

2020 Jeep Compass North2020 Jeep Compass North
Even without the raised ride height of Trailhawk trim, the Compass scales off-road obstacles well. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The aforementioned eight-way powered driver’s seat is optional, as are the heated front seats and steering wheel, and the 1.4-inch larger 8.4-inch infotainment system with navigation, while my tester also had a really impressive, fully featured, high-resolution 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster display, a windshield wiper de-icer, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, remote engine start, a nice set of all-weather floor mats, a full-size temporary spare tire, a Class III tow package, and more. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
It really is a Jeep! (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

You can also replace the standard quad-halogen headlamps with a set of bi-xenon HID headlamps featuring LED signatures and LED taillights, add a set of 18-inch alloys on 225/55 all-seasons, upgrade the audio system with Alpine speakers, add a dual-pane panoramic sunroof and powered liftgate, and finally improve convenience and safety with a host of advanced driver assist systems such as adaptive cruise control with stop and go, automatic high beams, forward collision warning with active braking, advanced brake assist, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist, and that’s just with North trim. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
Too much fun, the Compass can get you in and out of some fairly serious predicaments. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Jeep also offers the Compass in $30,940 Altitude trim, which adds glossy black 18-inch alloys, additional gloss-black exterior trim including a black roof, automatic headlights, upgraded upholstery, dual exhaust tips and other changes, while $31,640 Upland trim adds the 17-inch off-road alloy wheels, a modified front fascia, a front skid plate, and tow hooks from the aforementioned Trailhawk model, plus some other styling changes. 

Full $34,145 Trailhawk trim includes an off-road package with a unique uprated suspension setup, plus off-road tires wrapping around those just-noted 17-inch alloys, while it also adds underbody skid plates, hill descent control, the previously mentioned 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster display, the 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen, and rain-sensing wipers, as well as ambient-lit cupholders and leather upholstery. 

Trevor Hofmann
A nice reflection, even in mud. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Limited trim, at $36,145, builds on the more crossover-like Altitude model, by making the previously noted remote engine start, windshield wiper de-icer, heated front seats, and heated steering wheel standard equipment, plus adding a 12-way power driver’s seat, while the topmost $38,340 High Altitude trim includes the HID headlights, LED taillights and navigation system standard, while adding 19-inch rims and rubber, plus perforated leather upholstery (check CarCostCanada for 2020 Jeep Compass pricing, including trims, packages and options, plus make sure to learn about available rebates and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands). 

2020 Jeep Compass North
The Compass North is surprisingly refined for a compact SUV in base trim. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

No matter the trim the Compass is roomy for what is effectively a subcompact SUV, with plenty of space up front, loads of driver’s seat adjustability, and excellent telescopic steering column reach resulting in an ideal driving position, plus there’s more headroom than you’ll likely ever need. After setting my driver’s seat up for my rather long-legged, short-torso five-foot-eight frame, causing me to power it further rearward than most people my height need to, I still had about six inches ahead of my knees when seated directly behind in the second row, plus four inches over my head, and another four next to my hips and shoulders, while Jeep provides a nice wide armrest at centre. The outboard seats are comfortable with good lower back support, and the previously noted rear seat amenities, which also included good air circulation via vents on the backside of the front console, helped to make for a relaxing atmosphere. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
The cockpit is nicely organized. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The cargo compartment gets the usual carpeting on the floor and seatbacks, four chromed tie-down hooks, and the usual standard 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks to expand it from an accommodating 770 litres (27.2 cubic feet) to a generous 1,693 litres (39.8 cu ft). These numbers show this new Compass to be 127 litres (4.5 cu ft) larger than old first-generation version with the seats upright, and 82 litres (2.9 cu ft) smaller when they’re folded flat, a nominal difference likely due to the previous model having more space behind the driver’s side rear wheel well, but usable space is about the same. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
A large 7.0-inch centre display provides loads of functions. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Comfortably positioned back up front in the driver’s seat, there are no Eco or Sport modes to get the most mileage or performance from the standard 2.4-litre Tigershark MultiAir four-cylinder engine, or its three drivetrains. The engine makes a healthy 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, good for the subcompact SUV class, while fuel economy depends on whether suited up with the base front-wheel drive, six-speed manual gearbox combination (10.4 L/100km city, 7.3 highway and 9.0 combined), front-wheel drive with the six-speed auto (10.6 city, 7.6 highway and 9.3 combined), which also comes with auto stop/start that automatically shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, or the four-wheel drive, nine-speed auto combo (10.8 city, 7.8 highway and 9.5 combined) that comes with idle stop/start too. Only Sport trim offers the manual, with Sport, North and Altitude trims providing the option of front-wheel drive with the six-speed auto, while all trims can be had with the 4WD, nine-speed configuration, which is standard on Upland models and above. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
The big optional 8.4-inch display is ideal for checking details on this navigation map. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

My Compass tester was great fun to drive, much thanks to steering wheel-mounted paddles. It was quick at takeoff, the little turbo-four delivering plenty of torque for a good smack in the backside during takeoff and no shortage of energy to speedily eclipse highway cruising limits. High-speed stability and fast-paced handling are good too, while the Compass’ ride quality is hardly upset by road imperfections. The Compass’ suspension is fully independent, and interestingly it incorporates rear struts in place of this compact SUV segment’s usual trailing arm or multi-link setup in order to provide more travel to improve off-road capability. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
Choose your drive mode and go. The Compass offers Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud selections. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

And yes, the Compass is fairly decent off-road. Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system is standard, which provides Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud modes, the latter one extremely useful when getting it dirty at a local off-road haunt. Certainly the Trailhawk’s lifted suspension and beefier tires would’ve made it even more confidence inspiring, but I was able to crawl over some reasonably difficult medium-duty terrain, wade through a few big mud puddles, and bring it back in one piece. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
The 8-way powered driver’s seat is especially comfortable thanks to 4-way powered lumbar support. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The Compass’ Achilles heel is its advanced nine-speed transmission, which while smooth and refined in its higher ratios, plus includes a sporty rev-matching feature, was often plagued with jerky starts from standstill, seemingly caused by a slight hesitation upon pressing the gas pedal that resulted in an uncomfortable slap in the back affect and distinct clunk on takeoff. Worse, this is the only vehicle to ever stall on me when in idle stop/start mode. While waiting at a light with the engine automatically turned off, the light went green, so I took my foot off the brake and, when nothing happened, feathered the throttle in order to get things going. Instead, the engine tried to start up and then died, stalling in Drive. After figuring out what had happened, returning my foot to the brake, shifting the transmission back into Park, pushing the start button, shifting it back into Drive, and then waiting for a very long time (as if the transmission was slipping) before it clunked into gear and started going again, I wasn’t at all amused. After all, there was a line of (fortunately patient) traffic behind me, looking at this poor sod that obviously didn’t know how to drive. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
Rear seat roominess and comfort is good. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

As I’ve since learned, Jeep’s ZF-sourced nine-speed transmission has caused problems for the brand in this Compass and other vehicles (particularly the Cherokee) going back years, and the description of my specific problem doesn’t come close to describing all of the issues that might potentially go wrong. This particular problem still appears to be happening with some customers, as noted by multiple complainants on the U.S. NHTSA website. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
Cargo space is impressive for the class. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

It’s such a shame to leave things on a sour note, because I really like this SUV in most every other respect. It looks great, has an impressive interior that’s packed full of features, is priced reasonably well, provides loads of practicality, and is fun to drive (when it’s not stalling and the transmission isn’t clunking). I could recommend it in front-wheel drive trims, but I’d want to test a couple of other examples with the all-wheel drivetrain and nine-speed automatic before recommending anything higher up the food chain.

Have you noticed? Jeep has been harmonizing the look of its new lineup. It started with the elimination of the more traditionally styled Patriot and adoption of Grand Cherokee styling for the thoroughly…

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4×4 Road Test

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
Jeep’s 2018 Cherokee still looks great, especially in rugged High Altitude 4×4 trim and all-black paint. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Have you noticed? Jeep has been harmonizing the look of its new lineup. It started with the elimination of the more traditionally styled Patriot and adoption of Grand Cherokee styling for the thoroughly redesigned Compass, and continues with the more recently refreshed 2019 Cherokee.

The fifth-generation Cherokee has always divided opinions, mostly due to its high-mounted headlamps and aerodynamically rounded seven-slot grille, so the new 2019 model, which is already starting to arrive in Canadian dealerships as we say goodbye to this outgoing model, repositions those headlamps downward for a more conventional look that should appease naysayers. I won’t spend any time discussing the new model, as there are still plenty of 2018 Cherokees left for savvy SUV buyers to negotiate great deals on, hence my review of this stunning all-black example before us.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
The Cherokee has a brawny yet sporty look, that’s sleek and wind-cheating from its side profile view. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The Cherokee trim level you’re looking at is dubbed High Altitude 4×4, but Jeep could’ve just as easily swapped the word altitude for attitude. I can only speak for myself, but I think it looks fabulous, all of its bold blackness contrasting beautifully against white/orange and white/red lighting elements plus silver brake calipers. Truth be told, I’m not usually a black-on-black kind of person, preferring some shade of white or a tastefully bright colour, but I can’t deny the attraction, this Cherokee works.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
The Cherokee backs up its go-anywhere appearance with the ability to go almost anywhere, its 4×4 prowess a rarity in the compact SUV class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

One of the great things about buying a Jeep is the brand’s incredible array of available colours, trim levels and special editions, making it so even the most eccentric of customers can find something that suits their unique personality. Conservative types will probably want to stick with the $27,945 base Cherokee Sport, $31,645 mid-range North, $35,145 premium-level Limited, or downright luxurious $40,645 Overland, while those hoping to pull eyeballs their way can purchase a less lofty $29,840 Altitude model, this $35,940 High Altitude, the $36,145 off-road focused Trailhawk, and finally the fancier $39,140 Trailhawk Leather Plus.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
These unique slim-line headlamps won’t carry forward into the 2019 model, a shame as they really make the current Cherokee stand out from the crowd. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Being a Jeep, Trail Rated 4×4 skills are mandatory, at least in upper trims. As it is, the Trailhawk models come standard with the brand’s Active Drive II all-terrain system, upgraded with Active Drive Lock, or rather a locking rear differential, whereas all other trims get standard front-wheel drive and the option of a lighter duty Active Drive I 4×4 system that only engages the rear wheels when necessary, or the more capable Active Drive II system without the locking rear diff.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
These glossy black alloys come standard with the High Altitude model. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Jeep also provides choices in powertrains, including a 16-valve, DOHC 2.4-litre four-cylinder good for 184 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque, and a 24-valve, DOHC 3.2-litre V6 making 271 horsepower and 239 lb-ft of torque, with both joined up to a highly advanced nine-speed automatic transmission.

As you can imagine the Cherokee’s fuel economy varies considerably depending on engine and drivetrain, with the most efficient four-cylinder, FWD models achieving a claimed 11.0 L/100km in the city, 7.8 on the highway and 9.6 combined, and the most potent V6-powered, 4WD-endowed versions good for an estimated 12.9 city, 9.9 highway and 11.6 combined.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
The Cherokee’s clean, attractive taillights still look modern and fresh. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My Cherokee High Altitude 4×4 tester falls into the latter camp, as it shipped with the $2,845 V6 and Active Drive II all-terrain traction upgrade, boosting its price of entry to $40,985 before freight, fees and options. The move upmarket meant that an off-road suspension now supported road-ready 225/60 Continental ProContact all-seasons on 18-inch alloys, these not as go-anywhere-capable as the Firestone Destination A/Ts found on a previous Trailhawk tested a couple of years ago, but despite its very real 4×4 prowess the High Altitude model is probably more of a city slicker anyway.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
To the uninitiated, the Cherokee’s interior will be surprisingly upscale. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

For instance, the Trailhawk’s alloys measure 17 inches due to their all-terrain tires needing taller sidewalls for better off-road capability, while along with its aforementioned Active Drive Lock system it gets a unique Selec-Terrain traction management system featuring a rock crawling mode. The High Altitude gets Selec-Terrain without Rock mode, its dial-selectable settings including Auto, Sport, Snow, and Sand/Mud, which no doubt would be good enough to get it back from the cottage after a torrential spring downfall or up to the ski hill mid-winter, let alone out from behind a piled up snowplow-supplied embankment.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
Soft-touch surfaces and impressive digital interfaces set the Cherokee’s cabin apart. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While all of this brawny ruggedness sounds exciting, what makes both of these 4WD-equipped Cherokees especially appealing is their overall refinement. This likely can be said of FWD versions as well, although Jeep has never supplied me with one of those for testing so I’ll have to take their word for it. As it is, all Cherokees I’ve tested, starting with a 2014 Limited V6 4×4, which was followed up by a 2015 Trailhawk V6 4×4, a 2016 North V6 4×4, and finally this 2018 High Altitude V6 4×4, have come as close to premium-level pampering as mainstream volume makers get. I’m not talking Range Rover territory, but certainly nearing Land Rover in soft touch synthetic surfacing and features. The higher end Jeeps were especially well finished for this compact SUV class, with padded stitched leatherette dash tops and stitched leather armrests, premium perforated leather seats, tasteful satin-silver (or in this High Altitude model’s case, satin-copper/pewter) inlays, chromed details, etcetera.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
Highly legible analogue gauges flank a large colour multi-info display. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The Cherokee has been a leader in electronic interfaces since inception too, with my tester featuring a large 7.0-inch feature-filled colour multi-information display between its highly legible white/red on black primary gauges, and a much more sizeable 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen on the centre stack, this boasting very accurate navigation guidance and wonderfully detailed mapping, plus easy to use phone connectivity with Bluetooth audio streaming, a panel for controlling the dual-zone auto HVAC system despite having all the climate control hardware housed on a separate interface below the screen, an individual display for the heated (and cooled, if upgraded) seats and heatable steering wheel, plus more. You can leave your connected phone in a rubberized bin at the base of the centre stack and charge it via a USB port, while that same group of inputs includes the usual aux plug and 12-volt charger, plus an SD card slot.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
At 8.4 inches in diameter, the Cherokee’s touchscreen is one of the largest in the class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The High Altitude actually comes with a total of three 12-volt power outlets and three USB ports, plus a three-prong 115-volt household-style power outlet in back, while standard features not yet mentioned that are specific to this trim include bi-xenon HID headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, fog lamps, LED taillights, power-folding heated side mirrors with courtesy lamps and integrated turn signals, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, ambient LED interior lighting, illuminated front cupholders, a storage bin on top of the dash, a universal garage door opener, voice activation, satellite radio, soft Nappa leather upholstery, a 12-way power driver’s seat with four-way powered lumbar adjustment (the Lexus NX only gives you two-way lumbar), heated front seats, a rear seat centre armrest with integrated cupholders, a cargo management system, a cargo cover and net, plus much more.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
The highly accurate navigation system includes nicely detailed mapping. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My tester also featured a wonderful dual-pane panoramic sunroof overhead, capable of being opened for fresh air or completely covered by a power-retractable shade, this a $1,595 standalone extra, while other standalone options included $700 for navigation, and $450 for nine amplified speakers including a sub, which provided decent sound quality.

My loaner’s packages included $1,295 for a Luxury group featuring two-way memory for the driver’s seat, side mirrors and radio, plus ventilated front seats, a powered liftgate, and more; a $995 Technology group featuring automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control with stop and go capability, advanced brake assist, forward collision warning with active auto braking, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, semi-autonomous parallel and perpendicular parking assist, rain-sensing wipers, and more; while choosing the Technology group necessitates the $895 SafetyTec group that includes blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic detection and rear parking sensors with auto reverse braking; and lastly a $495 Trailer Tow group that added a 3.517 final drive ratio, heavy-duty engine cooling, a Class III hitch receiver, 4- and 7-pin wiring harness, an auxiliary transmission oil cooler, and a full-size spare tire. That’s $9,270 in options, upping the suggested retail price of my tester to $47,410 before freight and fees.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
This nine-speed automatic is one of the most advanced in the compact SUV class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Certainly that’s luxury brand territory for a compact SUV, but add similar features to a premium-badged sport ute and you’ll be thousands higher and probably won’t enjoy the same straight-line performance or off-road ability. There’s something decidedly upscale about a smooth, powerful V6. The throaty growl and purposeful gurgle emanating from up front ahead of the firewall and out back via the exhaust is worth the price of entry, not to mention the slightly higher ongoing running costs.

The V6-powered Cherokee moves off the line with gusto, and the nine-speed automatic shifts smoothly and reasonably quick. It mixes the comfort of those aforementioned leather seats, which are nicely sculpted for excellent lower back support, with more sports car-like flair than the usual SUV fare. Truly, the Cherokee is a more performance-oriented SUV than the majority of its peers.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
These leather-clad seats look great and feel even better. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Case in point, I had Toyota’s full-load RAV4 Platinum at my beck and call during the same week, and while it’s a very nice SUV with plenty of features it was nowhere near as fun to drive as this Cherokee. I’m sure to some reading right now that sounds odd, because the Cherokee is the only SUV in its class with 4×4 credentials, so one would justifiably think that its taller ride height and greater capability over rocks, gravel, sand, and what-have-you would make it less capable on a curving stretch of pavement, but strangely this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, the Cherokee feels like the performance SUV, and the RAV4 a comparative laggard.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
The optional dual-pane powered panoramic sunroof adds to the Cherokee’s open, airy, upscale ambience. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Certainly the RAV is comfortable, although a lack of telescopic reach from the steering wheel made the Toyota’s driving position less agreeable to my long-legged, short-torso frame than the Cherokee’s setup. Likewise the RAV4 offered up a good ride, albeit no better than the Cherokee. Toyota defenders might fight back with a nod to the RAV4 for styling, but honestly these two are probably equal in this respect. I’ll give expected reliability to Toyota.

This said the Cherokee’s auto reverse braking system can cut in a bit too aggressively at times, but if you go slowly enough when backing up past an obstacle it won’t automatically lock up. If you can call that a complaint, that’s it for negatives.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
Rear seat roominess, comfort and refinement is good for the class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Even the Cherokee’s rear seat roominess is good, with about four to five inches remaining ahead of my knees when the driver’s seat was positioned for my five-foot-eight medium-build body, plus another three to four inches above my head and five or six next to my shoulders and hips. More impressive, the rear passenger compartment is almost as nicely finished as the front, with soft-touch door uppers that actually extend halfway down the door. The RAV4, and most of its peers, doesn’t even have soft touch door uppers in back.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
It’s not the most accommodating cargo area, but it should be ample for most peoples’ needs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Likewise, the Cherokee’s rear liftgate powers open to a nicely finished cargo area. There’s no carpeting up the sidewalls like SUVs in the pricier premium class offer, but Jeep mounts chromed tie-down hooks at each corner and finishes the cargo floor with high-grade carpets that extend onto the backsides of the rear seats. The floor lifts up to expose the previously noted optional full-size spare tire, and that removable panel is very sturdy.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
The front passenger’s seat folds flat to stow longer items. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

When the 60/40-split seatbacks were folded flat via easily reachable clasps on the tops those seatbacks, expanding cargo space from 696 or 824 litres (24.6 or 29.1 cubic feet) depending on where the rear seats are positioned, to 1,554 litres (54.9 cubic feet), floor extensions fell into place to cover the gap where small items like wayward groceries (i.e. rolling apples and oranges) might otherwise fall. You can hang your grocery bags on cute little Jeep-branded hooks too, these clamped onto a useful organizer hoop attached to the left cargo wall. Also impressive, the aforementioned cargo cover retracts from within a very sturdy metal cross-member, and can be easily removed, while adding yet more functionality to this already impressively capable SUV, Jeep lets you drop the front seatback forward to stow really long cargo from front to back.

2018 Jeep Cherokee High Altitude 4x4
Jeep provides accessories that clamp to this useful cargo organizer. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If you haven’t yet figured out my overall opinion of the Jeep Cherokee, imagine a big grin between two thumbs up. I’ve always liked it, I still like it, and I’m looking forward to experiencing all the improvements made to the upcoming 2019 version. That said there’s no reason to wait or pay more for the newer model, as this 2018 Cherokee is as modern and up-to-date as most compact SUV buyers will want and need, while delivering great performance both on and off the road, decent fuel economy, a smooth comfortable ride, surprising refinement, excellent electronics, and arguably attractive styling, especially in my tester’s all-black attire.

If black isn’t your thing there are loads of other colours available, plus all those trim and powertrain options noted earlier, not to mention features left out of this review, so find the Cherokee that suits you best. Choices amongst 2018 models will be more limited, but getting a better deal might make compromising worth it. Either way I think you’ll be well served with a Jeep Cherokee.

Jeep added Trailhawk trim to its 2017 Grand Cherokee, and the result is as eye-catching as it’s capable. Today we review it in all its glory, and by that we mean with its most potent 5.7L Hemi V8 under-hood,…

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 5.7 Hemi Road Test

Some things make perfect sense, and adding the sporty Trailhawk package to the flagship Grand Cherokee is one of those things.

The Trailhawk follows the latest SUV trend of blackening most everything that was previously chrome, plus it goes one step beyond by almost completely covering the hood with a matte black decal. Other unique details include black "GRAND CHEROKEE" block lettering overtop a red shadowing effect on each front door, plus two red tow hooks set into the black mesh and dark grey centre fascia vent, red "Trail Rated" badges on each front fender, unique machine-finished twinned five-spoke 18-inch alloys with matte black painted pockets, a tiny portion of each detailed out with a little red WWII Willys silhouette, as well as matte grey taillight trim, the same matte grey used for the red shadowed "Jeep" logos front and rear, and finally a big red winged Trailhawk badge (that kind of reminds me of the original Ford Thunderbird emblem) on the bottom-right corner of Read Full Story
Along with commemorating Jeep’s wartime contribution the new 75th Anniversary Edition is an attractive and well-packaged Wrangler. Unique features include bronze accents outside and in, 17-inch alloys,…

2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 75th Anniversary Edition Road Test Review

Have you ever driven a WWII-era U.S. military jeep? If yes you'll know the current JK-bodied Wrangler is more akin to driving a luxury car of the same era than the ultimately remedial Bantam BRC-40, Ford GP, and Willys MA.

Yes, these three automakers submitted prototypes with Bantam's "Pilot" winning the bid, but all would go on to produce a version that would soon be standardized to conform to the much-improved Willys MB (which had significant input from all three manufacturers), with a Willys-sourced powertrain and production housed at their Toledo, Ohio plant (yes, where Jeep continues to build the Wrangler). Interestingly, Jeep's trademark pressed-metal grille was initially designed by Ford for their "Pygmy" prototype, but let's not remind the current crop of blue-oval designers or they'll lay claim on it before adapting it to their next generation of copycat Range Rovers.

These early reconnaissance cars joined U.S. troops in 1941 just ahead of America's actual war Read Full Story
Jeep’s little Renegade is selling up a storm across the continent, therefore today we review a near loaded Trailhawk version with the larger 184-hp 2.4L four-cylinder, advanced 9-speed auto, standard…

2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk Road Test Review

To most consumers Jeep is that iconic 4x4 brand that seems to have been around forever. It epitomizes rough and ready off-roading, that thought immediately conjuring up images of one of its many models trailblazing through a thickly wooded forest, trudging knee deep through marshland, fording a fast moving river, or spewing sand from oversized tires as it speeds up and over a dune, there's really no substitute for Jeep when it comes to serious 4x4s.

Of course there are, but none can trace their off-road roots back to 1941. Although to be fair, both Bantam and Ford built very similar utility vehicles for the U.S. World War II effort, simultaneously with Willys-Overland, the company that kept building them after the war under the CJ "Civilian Jeep" moniker, at least until 1953 when Kaiser and W-O joined forces to form Willys Motors, renamed Kaiser-Jeep in '63, a company that was gobbled up by American Motors Corporation in 1970, until AMC fell under the partnership and eventual Read Full Story