Bob Cooke – contributor
Just for a moment there I thought we’d trashed the transmission. As the Cherokee charged up the rutted sandy slope it lurched, bounced and suddenly came to a stop with a loud clattering sound. In horror I thought – damn, I’ve wrecked the transfer case!
But then from outside came Simon Butcher’s booming voice: “It’s all right, it’s just the tyres rubbing against the wheelarch!”
Oh, that’s all right then, I thought. However, I’d naturally backed off when I heard the clatter and the Cherokee was well and truly sunk into the big ruts, so there was no going forwards. We backed gently down to the bottom of the climb, allowed ourselves a longer run up to the start of the slope and booted it. The Cherokee bounced, lurched and swayed up the slope again, and when we got to the deeper ruts the clattering started again, but this time I just kept the pedal down and, in a shower of sand, the Cherokee nosed its way through and eventually lurched its way up and over the top.
Once safely out of the way of the others blasting their Land Rovers up the slope behind me, I took a quick look at the Cherokee’s back axle; all seemed well, but it took a fair stretch of the imagination to imagine the axle twisting so much that the tyres could contact the wheelarch – with the lift afforded by the heavy duty rear springs there’s at least seven inches of travel between Goodyear rubber and Jeep steel, and we’ve never driven the Jeep anywhere before where the terrain has been so tortuous as to bring the two together.
Make: Jeep Cherokee
Model: 4.0 Limited
Recent costs: £150 French off-roading + plus wine!
Arrived: July 2011
You can read more about this Jeep in the November 2013 issue of 4×4 Magazine – available here