Some folks in the traditionalist Jeep camp aren?t happy campers at all when it comes to the design language of the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee. For starters, some Jeepsters were fans of the Jeep Liberty, which the Cherokee replaces. Next, the boxy format of the old Cherokee no longer exists. There?s also the issue of the modification to iconic styling cues, such as the vertically upright seven-slot grille and conventional placement of round headlights. The new 2014 Jeep Cherokee definitely represents a radical departure from the Cherokee of old, but if things never changed in the interest of progress, we wouldn?t even have typewriters, let alone personal computers, and we would likely still rely on the horse and buggy for transportation. Admittedly life was simpler back in the day, but electricity is decidedly a good thing thanks to Thomas Edison.
Ah, but I digress ? back to the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee, which will come in four models, with two engine choices, three new four-wheel drive systems to choose from and a new Jeep Selec-Terrain traction control system, all joining forces with a segment-first 9-speed automatic transmission.
The model range consists of the base level Cherokee Sport followed by the Cherokee Latitude and the Cherokee Limited, each available in either a 4×2 or 4×4 drive configuration, and finally the Trail-Rated Cherokee Trailhawk, which comes only as a 4×4. Base pricing starts at $ 22,995 for the Cherokee Sport 4×2 to $29,495 for a Cherokee Trailhawk 4×4. The base starting price is actually $400. less than the outgoing 2012 Liberty model.
Powering the Jeep Cherokee lineup are modern, state-of-the-art engines: either a new 2.4-liter MultiAir2 Tigershark inline four-cylinder that produces 184 horsepower and 171 lb.-ft. of torque while achieving a fuel economy rating of up to 31 miles per gallon (mpg) highway; or a new 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6 engine that makes 271 horsepower along with 239 lb.-ft. of torque. Both mate to the new 9-speed automatic transmission.
The four-wheel drive systems available are: Jeep Active Drive I with a one-speed power transfer unit; Jeep Active Drive II with a two-speed power transfer unit and low range; and finally Jeep Active Drive Lock, also with a two-speed PTU, low range and a locking rear differential. All three systems feature an industry first rear-axle disconnect, which results in reduced energy loss when 4×4 capability isn?t needed thereby improving fuel efficiency.
The innovative new Jeep Selec-Terrain system provides up to five selectable modes that provide optimum four-wheel-drive performance for any road or weather condition. Auto is the standard drive mode with standard electronic brake controls, that automatically detects need for four-wheel-drive engagement and provides a fully active and variable front/rear torque split depending on driving conditions. Sport is for enhanced on-road driver control with: limited Traction control; raised ESC slip thresholds; driveline torque bias for improved cornering; and a target split of up to 40/60 percent front/rear torque; Snow provides second gear launch for use in inclement weather, slick surface electronic brake controls, full-time four-wheel drive, also with target split of up to 40/60 percent front/rear torque; Sand/Mud provides enhanced driver control in off-road conditions, off-road electronic brake controls; full-time four-wheel drive and an allowance for a front/rear torque split of up to 100 percent rear; Rock (available with Jeep Active Drive Lock) for use on obstacles with off-road electronic brake controls with increased brake lock differential capacity available in 4-Low only, also with an allowance for a front/rear torque split of up to 100 percent rear.
The 2014 Jeep Cherokee showcases a progressive exterior designed for the future with a global appeal. The exterior lines are fluid and sleek highlighting the efficient, wind-splitting upper body. The tough, protective lower body conveys the legendary capability characteristic of every Jeep. The rugged lower and smooth upper body is divided by the key waterline feature that connects the exterior for a full 360 degrees. And, for the record, the headlights are still round but restyled and repositioned.
Up front is the waterfall hood with the iconic peaked, seven-slotted grille, which includes a crisp, horizontal snap ? a feature in many classic Jeep vehicles. The hood is clearly defined and separated from the front fenders in a modern twist of Jeep heritage. The one-piece hood and grille assembly ensures a precise build. Advanced LED lighting technology is used throughout the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Forward lighting features a very unique daytime running lamp shape, playing a dominant role in the fresh front-end proportion and giving the impression of a slim headlamp. A well-hidden projector headlamp is almost in disguise below the DRLs, near the dark fascia. DRL feature lamps are placed high for water fording. The front of the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee flows visually through the rest of the vehicle with windows that link together, from the fast front windshield speeding to the backlight.
The Cherokee?s sides project a fluid tension in surface execution featuring the signature Jeep trapezoidal wheel arches. The rich chrome appearance of the daylight opening (DLO) shape and execution draws a close relationship to the flagship Jeep Grand Cherokee creating a consistency across the Jeep lineup. Two open-air roof options are offered: the new CommandView dual-pane sunroof, available for the first time in a mid-size SUV, as well as the industry-exclusive SkySlider open-air sunroof.
The aft end of the new Cherokee is highlighted by the contemporary full LED tail lamps, which are an integral part of the rear backlight graphic. The lower rear fascia was designed to allow for every license plate across the globe. The rear fascia also carries Jeep Cherokee-specific rear fog lamps and reflex.
The all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee?s interior inspiration included exotic locations and terrain around the world that brought beautiful imagery to mind. The interior is a blend of hand-sculpted fluid shapes, high-quality materials, innovative color and material choices, precision craftsmanship, state-of-the-art technology and thoughtful, clever features, making it inviting and comfortable. Exotic countries such as Morocco, legendary terrain such as Mt. Vesuvius in Italy, and iconic landscapes, including the Grand Canyon, were the inspiration for the color, tones and finishes used in the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee. A vinyl-wrapped, stitched instrument panel brow is standard on all models and the stitching carries over to the center console armrest and front door armrests. Seats are ergonomically designed to support the contour of the body, and are trimmed with premium cloth or quality Nappa leather and are available with power adjustable, heated/ventilated seats with memory.
Unique features such as the available heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, second-row seats that recline and move fore and aft, and wireless charging pad is also available. A world-class thin-film transistor 3.5-inch grayscale or 7-inch full-color reconfigurable instrument cluster allows the driver to enjoy a customized user experience and receive information and vehicle feedback in the format they prefer while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
An available award-winning 8.4-inch touchscreen multimedia command center ? the largest in the segment ? or the standard 5-inch touchscreen multimedia command center are attractive, intuitive and easy-to-use, and are located in the center stack. The Uconnect system allows the driver to control the audio, climate controls, heated/ventilated seats and much more from the touchscreen, redundant controls located on the center stack below the touchscreen or with voice commands. The 2014 Cherokee features the newly designed three-spoke Jeep steering wheel with audio, voice and speed controls, adding a new level of technical sophistication.
Thoughtful storage features make the most of the available interior space. Glove box storage space is deep and large enough to hold an iPad or most laptop computers.
The center console hosts the integrated phone docking station, USB and SD ports and auxiliary- power source. The Cherokee features up to two 12-volt power outlets, one in the instrument panel and, on select models, a second outlet in the center console.
During the national press introduction of the new Jeep Cherokee, I was afforded the opportunity to experience all models and both engines. All were in a 4×4 configuration. I drove a Limited Cherokee with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and a final price tag of $35,335; a Cherokee Latitude with the 3.2-liter V6 priced out at $34,365; and finally, a 2.4-liter powered Cherokee Trailhawk with a final price tag of $31,185. I most recently tested a Latitude model powered by the 3.2-liter V6 in a 4×4 configuration with Active Drive II. The exterior was finished in Granite Crystal metallic clear coat, while the interior was done in Morocco with Black and grey cloth. The base sticker was set at $26,495. with the final tally coming to $31,020 after adding the Customer Preferred Package, which included the Technology Group, Luxury Group, the 3.2-liter V6, UConnect package, ParkView Rear Backup Camera and Destination charge.
SUMMARY: I fall into the avid fan category of this latest and best (in my opinion) iteration of the new Jeep Cherokee. In the case of the 2014 Cherokee, change was not made simply for the sake of change, but rather for elevated styling and design appeal along with enhanced and improved capability, no to mention greater efficiency across the board. Both the interior and exterior take on an elegance not normally found in an affordable SUV.
The new Cherokee is as capable as it is good looking. It handles admirably both on and off-road, with the Trailhawk providing the same prowess as the Wrangler in challenging off-road scenarios. Both engines deliver more than adequate power on demand, with the 3.2-liter PentaStar V6 being the star, and the new 9-speed automatic transmission operates smoothly, changing gears in either direction.
Road holding is stable and the ride quality is quite comfortable. The handling characteristics are sporty in nature, with good on-center feedback.
The suite of more than 70 available advanced safety and security features delivers a pleasing, confidence-building driving experience ? these include: ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus, Forward Collision Warning-Plus, LaneSense Departure Warning-Plus, ten standard air bags; and 9-1-1 Assist Call featuring mirror-mounted buttons for emergency services, roadside assistance, Uconnect Customer Care and non-collision related emergencies.
The Jeep marque stands on more than 70 years of legendary heritage offering the largest range of SUVs under one brand. Cherokee is built in the United States at Chrysler Group?s Toledo (Ohio) Assembly Plant.
If you?re looking for an ideal sized SUV with sleek styling and legendary capability, the New Jeep Cherokee is a sure winner. For those of you who are fixated on the boxy old traditional Cherokee, remember, your vehicle was once new too, and it was a departure from the early military Jeep, so perhaps its time to move on.
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?[wptabtitle] SPECIFICATIONS: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4 [/wptabtitle]
|Price as Tested:||$31,020.|
|Engine Type and Size:||3.2-liter, Pentastar DOHC, 24-valve V-6 with sequential returnless multiport fuel injection.|
|Horsepower (bhp):||271 @ 6,500 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||239 @ 4,400 rpm|
|Transmission:||948TE nine-speed automatic.|
|Drive Train:||Transversely mounted front engine / Jeep Active Drive I and Jeep Active Drive II are optional on all models; Jeep Active Drive Lock is standard on Trailhawk. Fully disconnecting 4×2 mode with automatic 4×4 engagement Electronic 4×4 Low and Neutral range shifting Full-time 4×4 mode with active on demand clutch.|
Front – McPherson strut, long travel coil springs, one-piece aluminum
sub-frame, aluminum lower control arms, stabilizer bar.
Rear – Four-link rear suspension with trailing arm, aluminum lateral links, isolated high-strength steel rear cradle, coil springs, and stabilizer bar.
|Brakes:||Power vacuum-assisted tandem diaphragm four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS and ESC.|
|Tires:||Firestone Destination 225/65R17 BSW, All-season mounted on 5-“Y”-spoke alloy wheels.|
|Length Overall:||182.0 inches|
|Curb Weight:||4,106 lbs.|
|Fuel Capacity:||15.9 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||19 mpg city / 26 mpg highway|
|0 – 60 mph:||Not tested.|
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.