I was southbound on I-35 recently, heading home after rush hour was over, when I saw a car about 50 yards ahead of me in my lane swerve.
Such a maneuver often means the car was avoiding something in the roadway.
I was right, but I wasn’t expecting what I saw, and what I was rapidly approaching.
It was an extension ladder, and it was taking up half of my lane.
I knew I had to swerve, too, to the right, without taking a good look at whether there was a car in that lane. Fortunately, the 2015 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4x4 I was driving had blind-spot detection, and I could tell that the warning light on the passenger side mirror was not illuminated.
I swerved slightly to the right, just barely clipping the end of the ladder. The Jeep was easy to control and handled the maneuver with aplomb, generating almost no noticeable sway. The 8.7 inches of ground clearance probably helped, too.
Hitting the ladder also hardly registered inside the Jeep, but that has been one of its many standout characteristics during the week I drove it. It’s quiet with very little road or wind noise and has a composed, assured ride. For a high-riding SUV, that’s saying something.
The Latitude model I had was not the top-of-the-line Cherokee, but was above the Sport and below the Limited models. Still, I never got the impression I was in anything but a comfortable, attractive, competent SUV with enough luxury touches and tech features to attract most shoppers looking in the mid-size market. It’s MSRP including destination and options was a reasonable $32,080.
The Latitude came with the standard four-cylinder engine. At first I thought it was somewhat sluggish taking off from a stop, but then I’d look at the speedometer and see that I already was going the speed limit, or more.
It has a Selec-Terrain System, which allows the driver to pick the performance category to match the road. The choices are auto, snow, sport and sand/mud. Lacking any snow or anything off-road, I switched between auto and sport. Auto was good for everyday driving and better gas mileage. Sport noticeably changed the transmission shifts and allowed it to rev higher, dramatically improving the Latitude’s performance.
Other appealing features on the Cherokee Latitude included:
▪ A black leather-like trim on the dash with stitching on top, on the steering wheel and the shifter skirt.
▪ Jeep pushed the boundaries of design with its swept-back LED daytime running lights situated over the halogen headlamps. I like the look, and it worked well with the sporty-looking black wheels.
▪ Supportive front seats with just enough bolstering on the sides to keep you in place.
▪ A Keyless Enter-N-Go system that also triggered puddle lamps under each side mirror.
▪ The ParkView rear backup camera whose picture was displayed on a big, sharp 8.4-inch touch screen.
Three years or 36,000 miles, with a five-year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty.
The base price of the Jeep Cherokee Latitude was $27,095. Options included 18-inch black wheels, ParkSense rear park assist, blind spot and cross path detection, power liftgate, remote start, keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, power driver’s seat and Uconnect 8.4-inch touch screen. The sticker price, including destination charge, was $32,080.
Mike Fitzgerald’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
2015 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4x4
ENGINE: 2.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder with 184 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque.
TRANSMISSION: Nine-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
WHEELBASE/LENGTH: 106.3/182 inches
CURB WEIGHT: 3,953 pounds
BASE PRICE: $27,095
AS DRIVEN: $32,080, including destination
MPG RATING: 21 miles per gallon in city driving; 28 mpg highway.