UK Car Road Test

Jeep Cherokee 2.8 CRD Ltd 2003

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UK Car used car road test. Jeep Cherokee 2.8 CRD Limited 4x4.

Jeep's name is synonymous with 4x4s now with a range of vehicles utilising features originally developed for the military vehicles they produced. This Cherokee, though, is not as butch as the more rugged military versions; it compares more to a Mike Tyson character than Mary Poppins by normal car standards.


At first sight I thought this Jeep looked like a London black cab from the front. It's also lacking in any distinct shape other than its grille and added wheel arches. It lacks any design intuition and that, effectively, I think is what makes it a fairly good-looking off road car. It has a very distinctive shape, the inside is uncluttered and, once again, it's simple as well as fairly attractive. The dash on the passenger side is like an old Land Rover in that it is devoid of any interesting features other than its airbag, thus allowing more room for the occupant. Again, simple, effective and impressionable. When you first sit in this car you know immediately it's a 4x4 and not a meek one at that. This one tested is the Limited version which is the top specification for the Jeep range. It's attractively finished in black with a matching black leather trim and both of these features work very well together. 

My first criticism is that I thought the rear seating very uninteresting and lacking any comfort or support, although the front seats are much better. It's also equipped with dual temperature heating which is very nice indeed as well as being speedy to heat up.

The height of the car at 187 cm combined with the flared arches make this vehicle appear huge; it's actual size is not much bigger than a Land Rover Freelander. This deception is confirmed once seated inside the car - the interior is quite compact both in the front and rear. The rear seats are capable of carrying three occupants but they would have to be small and the one in the middle would not be overjoyed with the available butt space.


When I first viewed this car I was hardly swayed by it at all, although having used it for a while, it's shape and design quickly gained my approval. The headlamps are a little frog-eyed and the body a simple square design but it still passes well in a distinctive test in my opinion and the car does command a second glance from other motorists. Simple use of contrasting colours from the wheels and lighting tastefully characterise this car.



Being the Limited version, the car has lots of features normally found in executive saloons. All the switches and controls are very easily utilised and not over-cluttered around the cockpit. The air con is very simple to operate in that you simply rotate the ventilation dial for the air direction with a/c and it works automatically. 

The alternator and battery on this car could power your average house. There are numerous electrical fitments including all four windows, mirrors (which also fold in electronically), a sunroof, heated seats, stereo and lots more.

I was very impressed with the quality of the interior and the features fitted to this Jeep, coupled with the ease of use and general styling, I very much enjoyed using it. Comfort Features  
Adjustable Steering Column from
Adjustable Steering Column
Centre Arm Rest Front from
Centre Arm Rest Front
Cloth Trim from
Cloth Trim
Cup holders from
Cup holders
Front Door Bins from
Front Door Bins
Head Rests (front & rear) from
Head Rests (front & rear)
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat from
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Seat Belts from
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Pollen Filter from
Pollen Filter
Split rear seats from
Split rear seats
Time Clock from
Time Clock General Features  
12 V Accessory Power Point from
12 V Accessory Power Point
Digital Odometer from
Digital Odometer
Heated Rear Window from
Heated Rear Window
Rear Load Cover from
Rear Load Cover
Rear Wash Wipe from
Rear Wash Wipe
Roof Rails from
Roof Rails
Tinted Windows from
Tinted Windows Luxury Features  
Air Conditioning from
Air Conditioning
Cigarette Lighter from
Cigarette Lighter
Cruise Control from
Cruise Control
Electric Mirrors from
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows (front & rear) from
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Heated Mirrors from
Heated Mirrors
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror from
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror
Radio CD Player from
Radio CD Player
Trip Counter from
Trip Counter



Being American, the choice of preferred engine over the pond would be the 3.7 gas guzzling monster and with our UK fuel prices being so high I would regard the diesel a much better option. Originally this car had the 2.5 diesel which produced 114 bhp but this is now superseded by this 2.8 with 141 bhp.


Service Interval Insurance Group Safety Rating Smog Rating
6000 15 Band (f)
Engine BHP CC Fuel Inj.
Turbo Diesel 4 Cylinder 141 2499 No
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
4 Single 2 Turbo Charger
Cooling F.Susp R.Susp
Water NA NA
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
102mph 13.3seconds 75
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
24.1mpg 37.7mpg 31.4mpg Diesel
Kerb Weight Tow Weight Length Width Height
1890kg 2800kg 445cm 182cm 187cm
Boot Seats/up Boot Seats/Down Seats
821 Litres 1954 Litres 5


Pull the bonnet on this car and you cannot see the engine itself due to the modern plastic covers. You can certainly hear it though, turn the key to start and it fires very easily and it even idles smoothly for a four pot which is all good thus far until you hear what a racket it produces. It has a very loud and obvious diesel knock from idle which amplifies with increasing revs. Very off-putting indeed so I quickly closed the bonnet to add more sound insulation than the plastic cover offered although this did not have much effect at all.


Not having been put off by the engine, I climbed into the car and selected Drive. Immediately the torque converter was trying to propel the car forwards and the engine speed dropped by a few rpm quieting down slightly. As I released the brake I was impressed with the initial uptake of speed, this was less than the recognition of the torque that the car's engine was supplying. For such a large 4x4 the engine easily put velocity into it. About busy streets the gearbox and engine worked well, supplying a smooth gear change and power output from the engine. Once moving, the diesel knock diminished considerably to an acceptable level. Having driven the car for a few hours I found myself driving quicker and more urgently as I became aware of the engine's character. I must say, overall it is very good and acceptable (I can't resist) but it does not come anywhere near the 3.0 D BMW unit which is astonishing really considering the technology and money invested in making this Jeep unit. Ok, so BMW is probably one of the best diesel donkeys available with an exceptional output as well as far more expensive. It is just that I have to compare in my mind what I am driving with other experiences and the Jeep I rate around 7-8 out of ten whilst the BMW is 9. This is an unfair criticism I suppose because overall the power output is good. I just found the engine great up to 3,000 rpms but quite noisy and lacking after that. Shaped like a black cab from the front, top speed would be silly to consider and on the motorway the car would cruise very happily and reasonably quietly around the speed limits.

This car is a 4x4 but only part of the time as you have to select the all-wheel drive when required. I feel this is a better feature than the permanent systems in some 4x4s. It allows for better turning circles as well as a much greater acceleration and fuel economy. Noise levels are also slightly lower which don't really matter on this car with its roaring diesel decibels.

The suspension is very firm and very agile for a 4x4, you feel like you are driving a saloon car set-up rather than several feet off the floor. Throwing the car into a bend at any speed is rewarded with a great steering line which is consistent and credible. There is very little body roll and a firm ride which I found good. Steer/Susp/Tech Features  
Alloy Wheels from
Alloy Wheels
Catalytic Converter from
Catalytic Converter
Disc Brakes Front & Rear from
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
External Temperature Gauge Fitted from
External Temperature Gauge Fitted
Front Fog lamps fitted from
Front Fog lamps fitted
Halogen Head Lights from
Halogen Head Lights
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim from
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Independent Suspension from
Independent Suspension
Intermittent Wash Wipe from
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Part Time 4 Wheel Drive from
Part Time 4 Wheel Drive
Power Assisted Steering from
Power Assisted Steering
Rev Counter from
Rev Counter

The steering is power assisted with very good feedback and a turning circle that a Land Rover could only be envious of. The braking is ABS assisted and very powerful. It takes very little driver effort to stop this xxxxxx KG heavyweight. The large alloys rims and tyres contribute to the overall feel of this car and it is ultimately the manufacturing which gives it such a good feel and balance.


It's a Jeep so it's going to be safe - hit something other than a mature oak and this car will demolish it! Security is fitted by a transponder key which is required to run the engine. Huge body weight and elevated driving position make the driving cell excellent against impact so if you want something safe, this car will supply just that. The body panels are rigid and the doors have a distinct and heavy, quality feel to them.

Airbags are fitted as well as safety features like crumple zones and pre-tensioned seat belts which all add to the cars overall safety. The stereo is specific to this Jeep model and will not interchange with other makes so it's safe in the dash and is unlikely to be removed by any mindless thief. The key has a remote opening and alarm as well, adding to the anti-theft qualities. I question for what purpose you would steal this car other than to visit the recycling point as it is not quick enough to out-run anything and is not street credible enough for cruise-to-impress. Safety/Security Features  
Alarm from
Antilock Braking System from
Antilock Braking System
Child Locks from
Child Locks
Engine Immobiliser from
Engine Immobiliser
Front Side Curtain Air Bags from
Front Side Curtain Air Bags
Front Twin Airbags from
Front Twin Airbags
High level brake Light from
High level brake Light
Locking Fuel Cap from
Locking Fuel Cap
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts from
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Remote Central Locking from
Remote Central Locking
Side Impact Protection from
Side Impact Protection
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts from
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts
Visible Identification Number from
Visible Identification Number




All in all, I was very impressed with this car. The London taxi image which I first disliked eventually charmed me. The quality of finishing is high and the drive enjoyable.

The fuel economy was a little low and the servicing is a little higher than a normal car but this has to be accepted when you consider the car's class. Market class, that is, and not class as in classy. It has some class but mostly it's a 4x4 which is why you would buy one and it carries out this job with ease and a great deal of comfort.


Window lifts like a hatch.

Door handle.

Door opens like a truck.

or large bottle opener?

The Jeep is now available at good second hand prices, is a great drive in comparison to some of the Nippon 4x4s I have driven and I would buy one if given a choice.

JD Power Survey Ratings
2005 74.4

JD Power survey ratings are on a scale 1% thru 100%, 0 or blank



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UK Car Road Test Jeep Cherokee 2.8 CRD Ltd 2003

UK Car Road Test Keywords: 4*4Cherokee 2.8 CRD Ltd