Jeep Cherokee vs GMC Yukon: Old School or New School?

Back in the late '90s to early 2000s, America was the land of the SUV. Gas was cheap and the market was just right for the segment. Then oil prices began to slowly creep higher and higher, and America broke off its love affair with the big and thirsty SUVs. Now a decade later, those SUVs have been replaced by smaller car based CUVs. They're still rugged, but aren't as big and heavy. Gone with those are also the thirsty V8s that powered them. In their place, a set of smaller displacement turbo-charged engines. They've almost become as ubiquitous as SUVs once were. And now with lower gas pricer, the draw of these SUVs grows stronger once again. RELATED: See Photos of the GMC Yukon XL A test was in order to find out whether or not the disenfranchisement of the SUV was strictly caused by higher gas prices, or were smaller CUVs simply becoming just as good as their larger compatriots? For this test we pitted the Jeep Cherokee Latitude against the GMC Yukon. Both are about as new as you can get. Each received new bodies, new transmissions, and all new interiors. However, whereas the Jeep received the addition of a small fuel-efficient four cylinder, the GMC stuck with the ever present LS V8. They represent both the old and new school ways of thinking, and they're the perfect pairing for this test. 2015 GMC Yukon SL If there's one word to describe this SUV, it's cavernous. With all the seats folded down, you could fit a small whale into the it. Even in the engine bay, there's more free space than you know what to do with. That space however, is by design. This SUV is meant to be a massive hauler of children, adults and as much stuff as you can come up with to cram into the SUV. And because of that cavernous interior, you never feel cramped, even with it filled to the brim. During the time I had it, I took my wife, in-laws, and brother in-law, along with a bunch of luggage on a eight hour road trip to southern Illinois. Throughout the trip, not a single one of us grew tired with the seats, or the SUV in general by the time we got where we were going. We all had more room than we knew what to do with, making it an absolutely wonderful trip. I especially enjoyed the room since I had just got back from taking my FR-S from Chicago to Austin, which is a little more cramped. This truck is all about cushiness and space. Between the plush, heated seats, the banging stereo system and the rear seat entertainment, this has to be one of the best road trip cars on the planet. That being said, it gulps down fuel at an alarming rate. I personally love the LS and LT V8s GM has been designing lately. They're hugely powerful, and make some of the best noises on the planet. But when you combine both a large and powerful V8, with an SUV that has the aerodynamic coefficient of a brick, neither make for great gas mileage. And before gas prices started falling sharply, that seemed to turn off many buyers. Consumers rather went with SUV's like the Jeep Cherokee. And being all-new this year, it's quickly become one of the best — if not the best — selling CUV's in the US. 2015 Jeep Cherokee Latitude When Jeep first introduced the new Cherokee about a year ago, not everyone was sold on the very dramatic styling. But after almost a year on sale, Jeep can barely keep this CUV on its lots. And that success all comes down to the fit and finish, and the lunatic levels of ruggedness this little CUV achieves. Within the first hour I had the Jeep, I had already sought out the nearest cornfield, and the once pristine Jeep looked as if it had been dunked into a pool of mud. Even coupled to the tiny inline four cylinder, the CUV handled the rutty field like a champ. It never stopped, never got stuck, and never felt underpowered for what I was asking it to do. It's light and nimble, making it the perfect truck to bounce around a muddy field. Something I would have been nervous to do with the very large Yukon. Then, when I was done mucking about in the field, I just got back onto the road where the CUV settled down and just became another car. RELATED: See Photos of the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk However, where the Jeep shows it's smaller stature is in the interior room. Fitting five full-grown adults into this little CUV is a challenge, to put it lightly. It's possible, but for any trip over an hour, it's a cramped space. That being said, the trunk is impossibly large for such a small CUV. Getting two dogs, a load of camera equipment, and two overnight bags into the trunk is unbelievably easy. The Jeeps space is more tailored to a smaller, growing family, than it is for a long distance road trip car. But for what it lacks in interior space, it surely makes up the difference in fuel efficiency. The tiny four cylinder coupled to the nine speed automatic transmission returns fabulous gas mileage, even when you're romping around in a mud-filled field. The engine and transmission choice are clearly products from when gas prices were skyrocketing. However, unlike the Yukon where the engine choice and size now make more sense, the Jeep will continue to save the consumer money, even when gas prices are falling. The Verdict While each are truly great at what they do, the Cherokee appears to be more tailored for the future. The Yukon, on the other hand, resembles a relic of the past. While GMC has done an admirable job at updating and making the Yukon one of the nicest places to be among any car, it's still very much a product that has lost touch with current realities. The Yukon would be better suited for modern life, and modern gas prices, if it went to a diesel engine, or a smaller displacement turbocharged V6. In the past decade, every bit of automotive engineering and design has advanced not in miles, but in light years. Cheaper, lighter materials have become the norm with even more manufacturers relying lightweight aluminum for structural components. While American's still crave for the ruggedness of the late 90's, we've transplanted that technology into smaller CUV's. The Jeep Cherokee is very much in that vein. It's small, practical, and gets very great gas mileage, all without sacrificing its ability to go wherever and over whatever you could possibly want. Even though these two are very much new, the Jeep is set firmly to take on the future, while though an excellent SUV, the Yukon is decidedly a thing of the past. RELATED: See More 4x4 Photos _______________________________________ Click Here to Read the Original Article on BoldRide

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