2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4 Review
New 2014 Jeep Cherokee rugged and refined.
It is interesting that Jeep decided to bring back the Cherokee name for its new crossover SUV.
Perhaps they want customers to think of the Cherokee as the smaller sibling of the iconic Grand Cherokee.
But whatever the reason, it has proven to be a success story. As an example, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada named the new Jeep Cherokee Best New Utility Vehicle for 2014 earlier this year.
And that was no small feat either as the Cherokee had to best 18 rivals to earn top honours. As a voting member of AJAC, I had it as a class winner and wasn?t surprised at all to see it take the overall title.
While it?s nice to be recognized by the media, how is it doing in the marketplace?
Well, quite nicely actually, as it sits in the Top 10 of SUV/CUV sales in Canada for the 2014 model year. And when you add in sales of the even bigger-selling Jeep Wrangler, this one-two punch is not far off the figures posted by the Ford Escape that is the sales leader among all SUV/CUV models during this calendar year.
The Cherokee is an important vehicle for Jeep as it attempts to make inroads in the extremely competitive mid-size SUV market. More than 200,000 units were sold in this segment last year, dominated by the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. The Cherokee replaces the Liberty that didn?t offer a lot of driving excitement and had become dated. The compact Compass and Patriot models are also being dropped from the lineup after this year.
Built on the Dodge Dart platform that is also used by the 2015 Chrysler 200, the Cherokee is available in four different trim levels – Sport, North, Limited and Trailhawk. All but the Trailhawk come in either 4×2 or 4×4 format. The Trailhawk is a 4×4 only and comes with Trail Rated capability, meaning it can handle a lot rougher terrain than your average SUV.
These models cover a lot of territory, meaning there is something for everyone here. The Cherokee can be a suburban grocery-getter, a family hauler or even a hard-core trailblazer when outfitted in Trailhawk trim.
From a design standpoint, there?s no doubt this is a Jeep with its in-your-face styling up front. However, from a side view, the Cherokee is sleek with smooth lines that are far removed from the boxy, traditional Jeep look.
Our tester was a tricked out Cherokee Limited 4×4. It was loaded with options, taking the base price of $32,195 to $43,070 when you factor in the $1,695 destination charge.
Pushing up the price were options such as the Technology package ($1,795), Luxury package ($1,495), Trailer towing package ($495), nine-speed automatic transmission ($1,250) and a panoramic Command View dual-paned sunroof ($1,495).
The test vehicle was powered by an optional ($1,300) 3.2-litre Pentastar V6 engine, making 271 hp and 239 lb/ft of torque.
Base engine on the Cherokee is a 2.4-litre inline four-cylinder, producing 184 hp and 171 lb/ft of torque. This engine gives a driving range of nearly 900 kilometres, according to the manufacturer.
Three, four-wheel drive systems are offered on the Cherokee, including the Active Drive II system on our test vehicle.
Active Drive II sends available torque to the front wheels under normal driving conditions and then automatically transfers power to the rear when slippage is detected. It also has a low gear range for more serious off-roading.
Standard on the Cherokee 4x4s is the Select-Terrain System, which has five settings?Sport, Snow, Sand/Mud, Rock and Auto. As we didn?t go off-road, we kept the setting at Auto, which is where most will leave it.
On the road, I would describe the Cherokee as ?un-Jeep-like? when compared to say the Wrangler. It is quiet and smooth with decent acceleration. The nine-speed transmission, which Jeep says is a first in the segment, shifts seamlessly through the gears. Handling is good and the vehicle tracks well on the corners.
We averaged 8.7L/100 km during our time with the Cherokee during mostly highway driving. Natural Resources Canada rates the 3.2-litre V6 in the Cherokee at 11.1L/100 km city and 7.7L/100 km highway.
Inside, the cabin has an upscale look, particularly in the Limited trim model. With the luxury package, our vehicle also had premium leather-trimmed bucket seats, heated and ventilated up front, power liftgate and HID headlights.
The Technology package adds goodies like advanced brake assist, rain sensitive wipers, lane departure warning, automatic high beam control, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, blind spot and cross path detection and park assist.
The cabin is quiet and comfortable with generous legroom front and rear ? a fact verified by my back-seat passengers during a two-hour road trip into Toronto with three buddies for a recent Sunday afternoon Blue Jay game.
Jeep hopes to challenge the likes of the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 with the Cherokee. Reaching those lofty sales numbers may be a stretch, but there?s no doubt the Cherokee is light years ahead of the now-retired Jeep Liberty, on almost every front.
It has a lot to offer and anyone shopping this segment would be wise to put the Cherokee on their test-drive list.