- - Thursday, December 17, 2015

What is it about the Jeep brand that I love? On the 2015 Jeep Cherokee, you can definitely expect more off-road capability even in this small crossover section. So while you can take it out to play, you can also dress it up as a work vehicle that has more than enough class to keep you happy 24/7.

In 2015, the Jeep folks added the popular stop-start engine on the V6 and for safety the rearview camera was added as well as automatic headlights on both the rough and tumble Trailhawk trim and the Latitude.

Jeep Cherokee’s competition includes the Ford Escape, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V. Several have more space on the inside, but none have the off-road durability that is needed for the bigger picture.

With four trims, the 2015 Jeep Cherokee holds five passengers and gives you options of the Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk or Limited trim levels.

On the Sport, expect 17-inch steel wheels, power accessories, keyless remote entry, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, the standard 60/40 rear seat also rear seats that conveniently slide and recline. For technology offerings, there is the Bluetooth phone and audio connect as well as six speaker and a touchscreen with the USB/iPod and an audio input and SD card reader.

On this trim, you can add the Cold Weather Package that comes with a wiper de-icer, remote ignition, heated power and folding mirrors as well as heated steering wheel and front seats.

Stand alone options include a rearview camera and a CD player with Satellite radio.

For the Latitude, you get alloy wheels, roof rails, fog lights, automatic headlights, the rearview camera as standard and also privacy-tinted glass. There is a folding front passenger seat with a storage compartment inside the seat cushion and there is a leather-wrapped steering wheel as well as a 115-volt outlet. Under the hood, there is the option on the Latitude of a V6 engine as well as dual sunroofs that partially open and an 8.4-inch touchscreen.

The Comfort/Convenience package that you can add on to the Latitude will give you a power liftgate along with automatic headlights, dual-zone automatic climate and an eight-way power driver seat with remote start.

The Trailhawk is for drivers who believe in the off-road experience and this one comes with four-wheel-drive, all-terrain tires and a set of low-range gears. Also in keeping with the off-road experience, there is the tweaked suspension, rear locking differential, tow hooks, bigger gauge cluster and the 8.4-inch touchscreen. You can opt for the Comfort/Convenience package on this one or the Technology Group package with automatic high-beams, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and low-speed crash mitigation, lane-departure warning and leather upholstery with a navigation system.

The Limited is a step up from the Trailhawk and while it offers the same interior goodies, it’s not as down and dirty. You get the Comfort/Convenience package goodies standard along with 18-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Opt for the Luxury Group package and there is a power liftgate, xenon headlights and air conditioned front seats.

There is also a SafetyTec package option with blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alerts and rear parking sensors.

Under the hood, the 2015 Jeep Cherokees has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. The V6 engine is a 3.2-liter with 271 horsepower and 239 pound feet of torque, all with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

No matter the engine you choose, you can also opt for front-wheel or four-wheel drive with the exception of the Trailhawk that only comes in the 4WD option. The 4WD option on the three other trims will give you the light-duty Active Drive I 4WD system, but on the Trailhawk note you get the Active Drive II system. The Drive II system is an option on the other trims and for this there is low-range gearing for the off road experience.

Another fun feature on the 4WD Jeep Cherokee is the Selec-Terrain feature with the choice of Auto, Snow, Sport and Sand/Mud for traction. On the Trailhawk, not to be outdone, there is also the added Rock mode feature.

Safety features on the 2015 Jeep Cherokee include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear seat side, side curtain and front knee airbags as well as a rearview camera that is optional. The Trailhawk and Limited trims come with packages that can add everything from forward-collision warning and mitigation to lane-departure warning and blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts.

There is plenty of comfort on the inside of the 2015 Jeep Cherokee. The interior feels good to the touch and the touchscreen is plenty big and easy to use, particularly with the navigation interface called Uconnect on all but the lowest trim model.

The rear seats recline and both front and back seats are comfortable. The cargo space is a bit limited with only 24.6 cubic feet of space behind the second row or when folded you get 54.9 cubic feet of space.

Driving couldn’t be easier and more comfortable than in the 2015 Jeep Cherokee, but the V6 definitely outshines the smaller engine since the four-cylinder seems sluggish in comparison to the V6 option. The ride is also quiet both on the highway and around town and even the Trailhawk is quiet as it takes the heavy terrain with merely a blink.

As a fan of the Jeep brand overall, the Jeep Cherokee comes high on my list of desirable crossover options both for comfort and agility and passengers love it too since all around it is an easy ride with lots of power and charisma.

Should You Need to Know: For the rugged type, the Trailhawk will give you a smorgasbord of off-road goodies. The tow package is also impressive with the V6 capability at 4,500 pounds for towing when properly equipped.

Miles Per Gallon: With a variety of options, the 2015 Jeep Cherokee front-wheel with the four-cylinder engine is 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 miles per gallon on the highway. For the V6, front-wheel drive it is 24 miles per gallon combined. The best you can do combined with the 4WD is 24 miles per gallon, but the Trailhawk comes in at only 22 miles per gallon combined.

Cost: The 2015 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4X4 I drove had a price tag of 32,080.

For more auto tips and information, follow Rita @RitaCook13.

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