Jeep Cherokee SW 2001 - 2004

Jeep Cherokee SW 2001 - 2004

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • The Cherokee’s off-roading ability is excellent
  • You receive good levels of equipment even on standard models
  • The diesels engines are decent units


  • The back seat passengers don’t have enough space
  • The interior feels dated compared to rivals
  • The petrol engines are extremely thirsty


This new generation Jeep Cherokee has moved away from the previous generation’s boxy profile. Instead it comes with a rounded appearance that gives it a less rugged and aggressive look, which maybe actually detracts from the style of the Cherokee. The interior offers more space which is helped by the spare wheel being moved outside and mounted on the rear tailgate. However, on the tarmac the Cherokee doesn’t compare to its rivals, the RAV-4 and Freelander. There is too much body roll in the corners and the steering feels vague. However, take it off-road and you will be having the last laugh as you leave the Freelander’s, CR-V’s and RAV-4’s by the wayside.

Exterior and Interior

This new generation Cherokee has moved away from the boxy shape of its predecessor that made it stand out. Instead it has been given a rounded styling at the front which is far less rugged and less aggressive. Inside things have changed too with you receiving more space, but the back seat passengers could do with a little more legroom to be truly comfortable. The seats are all well shaped, comfy and supportive. The luggage space is bigger too as the spare wheel has been moved outside where it’s now mounted on the rear tailgate so it should easily be able to accommodate the whole families luggage. The rear tailgate also splits so the glass window can be opened separately which comes in useful when in tight parking spaces. The cabin still maintains its rugged feel and hard plastics that make it durable and easy to clean, but it’s now a couple of years behind that of its rivals making it feel dated. All models come well equipped with even the entry level Sport trim coming with a CD stereo, air-con, electric windows, ABS and front airbags. The top of the range Limited adds cruise control, electric front seats, heated seats, leather trim, an electric sunroof and sat-nav.

Performance and Economy

Both the entry level 2.4-litre petrol and 2.5-litre diesel engines both feel underpowered in the Cherokee taking the same 13.1 seconds to reach 60mph from a standing start. The diesel is the more economical of the two managing 31mpg, but that’s still not very impressive whilst the petrol trailed behind with 26mpg. The V6 engine that was added to the range in 2003 offers good performance taking 10.5 seconds to reach 60mph, but as a result the fuel economy returned is at just 22mpg. The 2.8-litre CRD is the pick of the bunch, preferably an engine after 2004 as it received a slight power increase at this point. It may not be the quickest going from 0-60mph in 11.8 seconds, but it is fairly economical compared to the petrol’s achieving 30mpg. It also produces loads of pulling power making it an ideal car for towing, off-roading and is great for everyday use. Insurance costs won’t come cheap with all but the V6 engine falling into group 15 and the V6 falling into group16.

Like to Drive

As long as you stick to perfectly smooth roads the Cherokee rides well, but on anything else and the ride becomes unsettled and jittery. The steering also feels inaccurate and there is a lot of body roll in the corners, but there is always plenty of grip to be had even in its default two wheel drive mode. The more powerful engines can suffer from loss of traction because of this and this is more apparent when pulling away from junctions in a hurry. It also suffers from engine and wind noise especially when travelling at speed. It’s off-road where it really excels though as it may have lost some of its rugged looks, but it hasn’t lost any off its off-road capabilities. The high ground clearance, low-ratio gearbox and the small overhangs mean that it should easily be able to tackle anything you throw at it.

Faults and Repairs

The Cherokee has proven to be fairly reliable over the years. However, mechanical reliability is one area that lets it down. There was also a recall in 2004 that concerned the suspension as there were worries that the suspension ball joints could rust and separate if water reached them. There have also been a few recalls over brake faults so be sure that all of the necessary work has been carried out. The weakest areas on the Jeep Cherokee are the suspension, axle and the automatic gearbox on diesel engines which has been know to jump out of gear. If there are any problems just walk away as all of them will prove extremely costly to fix. Speaking of costs, services are far from cheap with all of Jeeps rivals being cheaper. By finding a good independent specialist you are almost guaranteed to cut the costs by up to half. Any repairs that need to be carried out won’t come cheap either and Jeep garages tend to take a long time to get the car fixed.