Silver service

Garage

DAVID HASSALL

Software update saves the day at the 11th hour

WHO would have thought that a scheduled service could be a life-changing experience?

Maybe not as dramatic as getting married or having kids, but certainly one that changes the way you experience daily existence.

It all started innocently enough. The dashboard monitor advised it was time to get my Cherokee seen to. An appointment was made with Chadstone Jeep – conveniently located within walking distance of Wheels HQ. I dropped the car off and had a quick chat with the service manager about specific requirements. “Nothing big unless you feel inclined to fit a stiffer set of shocks, springs and sway bars.” My morning grumpiness was understandably ignored.

Collecting the car later that day, not being the actual owner, I only half-listened as the service manager explained what had been done to my charge. Two words arrested my general disinterest: “Software upgrade”.

Huh? What was that? “Yes, we performed a reflash on the transmission control module as part of a normal service program... blah blah blah…” Did you say transmission?

Regular readers will know of my frustration with the transmission programming, which had impacted throttle control in such a way that I described it as bipolar. One moment there was nothing and the next it was manic.

After leaving the service department that day, it was as if the drugs had suddenly

Lost in suspension

JEEP proved it listens to criticism by changing the transmission software and overcoming a major flaw in the Cherokee. Perhaps the Australian branch could now do something about the suspension tune to overcome the Cherokee’s overly soft set-up and consequently bouncy/jiggly ride and handling. Humble Korean brand Kia has successfully introduced a local development program; Jeep would certainly benefit from one.

If not, perhaps there’s a European spec we could get...

started working. Now the throttle was measured, the gears changed more smoothly and when you wanted them to, even accounting for hills and corners. So, just like a modern electronic automatic should.

It was nothing short of miraculous and instantly my attitude to IBR-8GJ changed for the better. I was able to enjoy the meaty and flexible 3.2-litre petrol V6, and the nine-speed auto, even if I never experienced eighth and ninth on my commute.

With nothing more than a quick mating to a laptop computer or something, the Cherokee was suddenly attractive. I even began admiring its previously admonished chrome-embellished bodywork, painted in a metallic blue that reminded me of the much loved Team Penske racing cars of my youth.

Having only a week or two earlier resolved my iPod compatability problems, I was also happily enjoying the potency of the mighty 506-watt Alpine sound system pumping through nine speakers and a subwoofer, and the ease of use of the Uconnect media centre with its clear (and bigger in Limited spec) 8.4-inch colour touchscreen.

I was also in a better state of mind to appreciate the lovely heating and cooling functions of the soft leather-covered seats, and the automatic high-beam function for the effective projector headlights with auto levelling. Not to mention the electric opening and closing function for the tailgate, accessing a flat-floor cargo area of useful if not cavernous proportions. Even the nervous reverse auto braking stopped bothering me to some degree. I was in some kind of unexpected bliss.

Then a call came through from Jeep HQ.

The marketing department – yes, the very people I eulogised just two months ago for making Jeep a brand phenomenon – needed the car. It had to go back, and in just a few days. How could this be? My pumpkin had become a golden coach at the 11th hour, and all of a sudden it was midnight? How cruel.

So that software upgrade will indeed be a life-changing experience, just not for me.

And whoever ends up with this Cherokee will probably be none the wiser.

LEFT ALONE

Traditional Jeep still employs a key, and I never got used to it being to the left of the steering wheel

Take the option to save

OUR Cherokee Limited was additionally optioned with the Technology Group package, which includes technology du jour such as brake assist, lane-departure assist, automatic high beam, forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with cross-path detection and an auto parking function. Having turned off most of these systems because they simply didn’t work well enough, we’d elect to skip the option and save $3000.

JEEP CHEROKEE V6 LIMITED

Date acquired: November 2014 Price as tested: $48,915 This month: 327km @ 11.4L/100km Overall: 5314km @ 11.0L/100km DP T O