The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Jeep Cherokee - Cool but a Pain At the Pump

A number of you could have seen this rugged machine rev past you and some of you could be contemplating buying it.

I am talking about the Jeep Cherokee. The 2003 Jeep Cherokee is a medium-size SUV originating from an American automaker, Chrysler, that made the first 4WD cars used in the Second World War. The car generally appears rugged in nature with the symbolic round headlamps of its predecessor, the first Jeep.

In countries like America, many fancy it for its luxurious interior (a Sports Limited has leather seats), ample leg room and storage facilities. But for an owner in Uganda, the Cherokee's standard 3.7 litre V6 petrol engine can be limiting at times. Of course such engine power comes with full throttle speeds (going uphill is no problem - you feel as though you are being 'pulled' up the hill.)

This powerful engine pushes the car through any mess of a road. I remember climbing a slippery, 40 degree gradient road while towing 900kgs in Bushenyi with the car carrying five of us. Amazingly, even with the little jerking from the rough course, none of us, the driver especially, seemed bothered.

However, the 3.7 litre comes at a cost. For Sarah Nantaba who owns one, commuting daily between Najjeera and Kamwokya for a week sets her back Shs 120,000 worth of petrol, yet someone with a 2.0l engine would consume half as much. But perhaps it's the pecks that come with the Cherokee that make that pinch at the fuel pump worthwhile.

This SUV comes with an on-board computer giving you information such as current kilometres per litre, distance until the next service, how long you want the headlights/interior light to stay on after you switch off the ignition, door and bonnet open, journey duration and many others.

It also comes with part-time and full-time 4WD with the option of locking the centre and rear differentials for the tyres to move uniformly in case of wheel spin in sticky situations.

Cruise control, another feature, helps you set the car to a certain speed letting you do only the steering and braking as it moves itself. This feature shouldn't perhaps be used on our Ugandan roads where a boda boda or cow could be the difference between life and death.

Besides the high fuel consumption, the car is serviced and maintained by highly trained experts, preferably those at Spear Motors. There is a newer version of the Jeep Cherokee that has been in production since 2010 available at Spear Motors.

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