Jeep’s relatively new Cherokee is its mainstream offering in a range of American SUVs that range from soft to GI Joe-tough.

The Sport is the cheapest and mildest Cherokee, with only front-wheel drive and a 2.4 litre petrol motor.

That will be all that’s wanted by many drivers who buy such vehicles for their high-riding view of the road and general versatility. But you can also option up with diesel power, all-wheel drive and beefed-up suspension for road adventurin’.

The mid-size Cherokee has decent passenger room, but the boot is disappointing for a wagon. However, it gives up part of its luggage space for a handy insulated food carry bag, which can be removed; there’s also a 12V socket to power a ‘fridge.

A log equipment list includes seven airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, trailer-sway control (very good), and a reversing camera.

Performance — helped by unique nine-speed auto transmission — and driveability are on par with this vehicle class; and it still needs only the cheapest 91-octane unleaded.

$33,500 plus on-roads | 2WD SUV
2.4 litre petrol | 137kW/232Nm

FOR: Value, American difference.
AGAINST: Dark interior trim.
VERDICT: Credible alternative to Japanese and Korean.