Gas Mileage Improvements Are Not Expected To Arrive in ‘16 For the Jeep Cherokee

What changes will make it different?

The Cherokee nameplate was only recently resurrected, as a 2014 model year, so it’s unlikely that too much will change for the ’16. Fiat Chrysler is keen on sticking to a well-constructed plan that appears to call for a refreshing for the 2017 edition to coincide with Jeep’s 75th anniversary celebration.

Why should I wait for the 2016?

With a proper refreshing scheduled for ’17, it’s hard to see Jeep doing anything too significant for 2016 for this midsize SUV. There seems to be little point, then, in waiting if you’re in the market right now.

Should I buy a 2015 model instead?

The latest incarnation of this vehicle has been polarizing; people either love it or hate it. If you fall into the “love it” category, you may as well buy now. The entry-level part of the lineup offers good value, but the Cherokee is also available with all the bells and whistles—if you’re prepared to pay for them.

Will the styling be different?

Styling is the one area where detractors want changes. But an overhaul won’t come before model-year ’17, and one can only guess about what the design will be.

Any mechanical changes?

The 2015 offering stands out in its segment as one of the few to have a V-6 alternative to the now-ubiquitous four-cylinder power plant. The base engine in the Jeep is a 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder that is pretty quick, smooth and quiet, especially for this class. The V-6 is a 3.2-liter engine that delivers a much-beefier 271 horsepower and 239 pound feet of torque. Whichever engine option you choose, the excellent ZF nine-speed automatic transmission is the standard accompaniment.

Will fuel economy improve?

Because no engine changes are expected for ’16 and because the vehicle already has stop/start technology and a nine-speed automatic transmission, we expect the fuel efficiency figures to remain about the same. You’ll get the best mileage from the front-wheel-drive four-cylinder derivative, which will bring 22 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg combined. However, most buyers are likely to opt for the V-6 and some form of all-wheel drive, which will drop the combined figure down into the low 20s.

Will it have new features?

The 2015 Cherokee seems to be trying to be all things to all people, with models ranging from the fairly unadorned, which can compete with some smaller and more basic hatchbacks, to the ultra-high-spec Trailhawk and Limited models that come with all the infotainment, safety, connectivity and off-road technology you could want. The Limited drops some off-roading goodies that are a feature of the Trailhawk in favor of more creature comforts such as leather upholstery, heated front seats, pushbutton start, 18-inch wheels, a reconfigurable information screen in the gauge cluster, the Uconnect touchscreen radio, satellite radio, a rearview camera, remote start and dual-zone automatic climate control.

How will 2016 prices be different?

The price of the front-wheel drive Sport remained the same for the ’15 version at $22,995.00, and we don’t expect to see a rise in the upcoming year. Prices are likely to go up, however, in 2017, when the refreshing takes place.

When will it come out?

A release date in the summer of 2015 is a reasonable estimate.

Best competitors

Ford Escape, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Santa Fe

What changes would make it better?

Some commentators would opt for a total redesign, but we think that’s a little harsh. Overall, it’s a more-than worthy vehicle, but something needs to be done to improve the fuel economy if this model isn’t to disappear again.

Quick hit

While manufacturers such as Hyundai and even Cadillac are toning down their designs to deliver a more conservative and less divisive look, it’s great to have a design as bold as the Cherokee’s. If anyone is concerned that Jeep may tone down for 2017 refresh, just take a look at the Renegade. This doesn’t seem like a manufacturer that is going to start acting its age as it reaches its 75th birthday.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]