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REVIEW • MOTOR MATTERS

2016 Jeep Cherokee

2016 Jeep Cherokee

The 2016 Jeep Cherokee builds something completely new
onto a very familiar name and heritage. While the original Jeep
Cherokee that launched in 1986 set the bar for sport-utility
vehicles that could be used as family transport, inspiring a
generation of competitors (and perhaps, the SUV trend as a
whole), times have changed, and the market has come to favor
models that are far more carlike.
For the most part, that’s what the Cherokee is—although
Jeep has managed to built a surprising amount of ruggedness
and off-road ability onto a package that’s designed primarily
for families, road trips, and the daily grind. Top rivals for the
Cherokee include some established crossovers like the Ford
Escape, Honda CR-V , Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4. It’s a
clean break from the more truck-like Jeep Liberty it replaced,
and its styling is less blunt and bluff.
The current Cherokee may be the first compact SUV get
the midpoint right, masterfully bridging the gap between cityfriendly crossover and serious (or, serious enough) off-roader.
It’s an unlikely subject, stuffed with the heart of a Trail Rated
Jeep. There’s plenty of ruggedness and a general zest for things
outdoorsy, while remaining perfectly suitable for families that
merely want AWD security and the suggestion that they might
have enjoyed camping a time or two.
Instead of taking a design direction that’s closer to that
purpose—or going with something a little edgier—the Cherokee
enters the fray with a startling variation of the Jeep face, then
becomes something entirely derivative at other points. The
cabin does paramedic duty here though, healing up all that
poorly thought-out stretching with some palliative shapes and
some truly nice finishes and Easter-egg touches (consider it a
challenge to find all the hidden Jeeps inside).
The Cherokee really sizes right in with models that would be
called compacts in the U.S., like the CR-V, Forester, and Escape.
Jeep might call it a mid-sizer, but it’s right in with those models.
There’s no third-row seat, but it’s a relatively roomy five-seater,
with a back seat that’s suitable for adults—or even asking
three to sit across for shorter distances--but the jutting front
headrests might enforce a slouching position that robs some
of that rear-seat space. The second row slides fore and aft to
choose between legroom and cargo space, and there’s a handy

BASE PRICE
organizer for the more retentive fans.
You have a choice between a four-cylinder engine and a
V-6—which helps it stand out in a class that includes several
models that have gone all-four-cylinder. The standard 184horsepower, 2.4-liter in-line four is plenty strong for quick
acceleration (as well as smooth and quiet for this class),
provided there isn’t too much weight aboard. The other new
3.2-liter V-6 makes 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque; it’s torquey
and generally happy with whatever work you throw its way.
With the V-6 and a Trailer Tow Package, the Cherokee can pull
4,500 pounds. No matter which version, the Cherokee has
fairly numb but accurate steering, with a well-tuned and welldamped ride.
The Cherokee also sports a ZF nine-speed automatic that
offers a shockingly wide range of ratios—allowing even the
four-cylinder versions to take off very quick from a standing
start and cruise with very low revs on the highway. Yet there’s
some unhappiness in the way that this transmission sometimes
balks, sometimes shifts with a bang, and sometimes holds a
gear a lot longer than needed. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it
makes us wonder if the Cherokee would have been better with
fewer gears. Its top figure of 31 mpg highway isn’t class-leading
either, but we’ve seen close to it in real-world conditions; 4WD
models post a few mpg lower. All V-6 Cherokee models now
include engine stop-start (ESS), which might not boost the
official EPA numbers but will save some fuel in low-speed stopand-go commuting.
Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk editions are offered,
with each model serving a different kind of buyer. Sport and
Latitude models appeal to cost- and value-conscious families,
while Limited models are the luxurious flagships of the lineup
and Trailhawk models are ready for the trail. Jeep’s Trail-Rated
badge applies to the Trailhawk, and it gets a one-inch lift,
unique front and rear fascias, an Active Drive Lock and locking
rear differential, added skid plates, and red tow hooks. There
are several different four-wheel drive systems, including Active
Drive I, and Active Drive II (adding a dual-range transfer case).
All models with 4WD have the Selec-Terrain system, with
separate ’smart’ modes for Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud, and Rock,
and in low-range models with four-cylinder engines, its crawl

Don’t dismiss old workhorse before
getting it checked out
BY RAY MAGLIOZZI
Hi, Ray:
I bought a ‘95 Chrysler Town and Country
from my brother last year for $1,500. He had
recently bought new tires and struts and some
other part, so I basically reimbursed him for
the recent work he had done and got the car for
free. Since I have owned it, I have spent about
$1,300 for new rear brakes, a new battery, a
new belt and something else. Now I am faced
with spending a bundle to replace the failing
transmission, and I cannot decide if it is worth
it. The car has only 120,000 miles, and I drive it
about 4,000 miles a year. I kind of hate to part
with it, because the back is plastered with my
Bernie bumper stickers, because it is great for

$23,395

ratio is an astonishingly
EPA est. MPG
22/31
good 56:1
Latitude and Trailhawk
models now include
SPECS
• 184-Horsepower
a ParkView backup
camera plus automatic
• ZF Nine-Speed Automatic
headlamps. And on
• Engine Stop-Start (ESS)
Latitude, Limited, and
Trailhawk models,
• Select-Terrain System
there’s a new package
• Four-Cylinder Engines
that combines Blindspot Monitoring, Rear
• Blind-Spot Monitors
Cross-Path Detection,
ParkSense rear park assist,
• ParkView Backup Camera
and signal mirrors with
courtesy lamps. About the
only thing missing in the
Cherokee’s safety feature set is a clever surround-view camera
system, which would be a boon for off-road use.
The 2015 Cherokee also offers more options than you’ll find
in most other affordable crossovers—if you’re willing to spend
extra, of course. Highlights include a CommandView panoramic
sunroof and Sky Slider roof, memory heated/ventilated seats,
and soft Nappa leather upholstery with ventilated front seats
in the top Limited model. Infotainment systems include 8.4inch Uconnect media center audio-streaming app connectivity
(Pandora and Slacker, among others); and top models include
a full-color reconfigurable LED instrument cluster.
This year, all models with that 8.4-inch system get a new
Drag and Drop menu bar that allows more personalization,
plus Siri Eyes Free compatibility and a Do Not Disturb mode
that blocks out calls and textx and can send a customized “I’m
driving now” message.
Available adaptive cruise control that can bring it to a full
stop if an impending collision is detected; optional lanedeparture and forward-collision warning systems are also an
option; and blind-spot monitors and parking sensors that can
also trigger the vehicle to a full stop at low speeds, if obstacles
are detected.
www.thecarconnection.com

hauling my frequently dirty dog and 50-pound
bags of horse feed, and because it is the hippie
van I never had in the ‘70s. My other car is a
2012 Beetle, and I am trying to keep it nice, so
my dog is not welcome in it, and its hauling
capacity is rather limited. My question: Is
this old-timer worth repairing for the above
reasons? Thanks. -- Barb
It might be. Start by having your mechanic do an
oil-pressure test on the engine. That’ll tell you a lot.
If the engine’s oil pressure is marginal, then you can
just go ahead and put a “Do Not Resuscitate” order on
the Town and Country’s health-care proxy.
For instance, if the oil pressure is supposed to be
between 35-55 psi at idle, and the test shows it’s at 36,
I’d say drive it until it drops, then remove the plates
and the dog and leave the van by the side of the road.
If it passes the oil-pressure test, then ask the
mechanic to look over the rest of the car to determine
what other key parts are about to -- in terms your horse
would understand -- buy the farm. He can check the
water pump, the tie rods, the front brakes, the rack
and pinion, etc. Because on a car with 120,000 miles,
any or all of that stuff could be ready to go.

If the car checks out reasonably well, then I’d say
keep it, and put a rebuilt transmission in it. It’ll
probably cost you about $2,500. But what other car
are you going to get that meets your needs for $2,500?
With a rebuilt transmission, no less!
And at 4,000 miles a year, you might get another
five years out of it. And then, if you want to preserve
your Bernie stickers, you can hacksaw off the rear
bumper and weld it onto your next vehicle.
***
Bumps and potholes do more than merely
annoy drivers. Find out what, and how you can
ease the pain, by ordering Click and Clack’s
pamphlet “Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your
Car Without Even Knowing It!” Send $4.75 (check
or money order) to Car Talk/Ruin, 628 Virginia
Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.
***
Got a question about cars? Write to Car Talk in
care of this newspaper, or email by visiting the
Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.
© 2016 by Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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