Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

15 May 2014

South Africa: Jeep Cherokee - Breaking the Mould

analysis

The Jeep brand is so quintessentially American that you almost expect to find a miniature Stars and Stripes folded up neatly in the glove compartment. So it must have been hard for patriotic Jeep fans to see the marque fall into foreign hands: Italian ones, to be exact. The new Cherokee is one of the first Jeep products to emerge since the Fiat took control - and yes, it represents a radical departure from the norm, as DEON SCHOEMAN finds out.

It's been three decades since the first-generation Cherokee XJ pioneered the medium SUV segment by offering a form factor significantly smaller than the Wagoneer, and eschewing that legendary all-terrainer's ladder frame chassis for a car-like monocoque.

A lot has changed in those 30 years, too. The SUV segment has become a lot more crowded, and in the South African context, is now contested primarily by European, Japanese and Korean marques.

Chrysler, once a proudly American company and one of the US auto industry's Big Three, is now owned by Fiat. And thus, the new Cherokee becomes the first Jeep to benefit from the collaboration between Auburn Hills and Turin.

But here's the million-dollar question: is the new Cherokee still...

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