JEEP is on a roll in the UK. Sales are rising at this firm faster than at any other manufacturer, up 176 per cent to over 10,000.
OK, so it began from such a low level that the very future of the brand in Britain was in doubt, but it is still a heck of a climb.
In fact, in 2014 Jeep sold more than a million vehicles worldwide for the first time ever which is more than twice as many as the Great British brand Land Rover, which is itself doing rather well at the moment.
So things are looking up at Jeep in its 75th anniversary, with a raft of special edition models lined up.
Much of the success has been down to the Renegade, which is the smallest and most affordable vehicle in the Jeep range and which has helped win over tons of new business.
But tested here is a vehicle at the heart of the Jeep family, the Cherokee which now has the benefit of a splendid new engine: a 2.2 litre four-cylinder diesel engine which is both smooth and efficient and which helps the vehicle pit itself against key rivals from Land Rover and co.
The engine offers more power and better economy and is part of a range of improvements which also includes improved specification.
The new Italian-built 2.2 litre unit joins the existing 2.0 litre, 140bhp engine. The new unit is not only bigger but offers a broader spread of power making it more flexible.
The Cherokee range, from entry level, now has additional specification as standard including electric tailgate, windscreen wipers with rain sensor, dusk sensor, eight-position electrically adjustable seat, four-position lumbar adjustment and automatic anti-dazzle rear-view mirror with built-in microphone.
The new engine places Jeep Cherokee towards the top of its class for performance, refinement and efficiency.
The new 2.2 is matched to Jeep’s Active Drive I system, but can be specified with Active Drive II on the Limited 200bhp model. Active Drive I offers Jeep’s original rear-axle disconnect system which improves fuel economy, while Active Drive II adds a two-speed power transfer unit, for ‘low range’ capability and hill-descent control. Both versions carry an impressive towing capacity of 2.5 tonnes.
Cherokee also has the UConnect system, a touchscreen and satellite navigation unit and a wireless charging pad, all standard on Limited.
Standard kit on the test model is impressive with keyless entry, cruise control, a stop-start system for better economy, 18inch alloy wheels, parking camera, chrome and leather trim, automatic air conditioning, ventilated and heated seats and nine-speaker stereo system.
Extra-cost options here included full sunroof (£1,095) and Technology Group (which comprises features such as brake assist, powered mirrors, a lane-sensing system and parking assist) for £2,000.
The Jeep Cherokee range starts at £26,095 OTR for the 2.0 MultiJet II 140 hp Longitude FWD manual, rising to £37,995 for the 2.2 MultiJet II 200 hp Limited 4WD automatic.
* To mark its 75th anniversary this year, Jeep is launching limited edition versions of all its models. All the 75th Anniversary models are distinguished by a new livery, a badge, low gloss bronze-coloured rims, bronze and orange-coloured exterior inserts and special interiors with seats sporting the 75th Anniversary logo.
Jeep Cherokee 2.2 MultiJet 200bhp 4WD Limited
PRICE: £36,795. Range starts at £26,095 on the road
ENGINE: A 2,184cc four cylinder unit generating 200bhp via all four wheels and a nine-speed automatic gearbox
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 127mph and 0 to 60mph in 8.5 seconds
COSTS: Town 40.4mpg; country 57.6mpg; combined 49.6mpg
INSURANCE: Group 26E
WARRANTY: Three years, 60,000 miles