The 2014 Cherokee is a thoroughly modern SUV with go-anywhere capability and around-town refinement that needs to be experienced…
Jeep has been one of the strongest brands for the Chrysler Group, thanks to the fantastic Grand Cherokee mid-sized SUV and the always-popular Wrangler.
Building off that success is the introduction of an all-new Cherokee. It has been almost twenty years since we had a Cherokee in the market and this one is radically different from anything one might remember. Since the Chrysler group didn’t have a small SUV in its portfolio to take on established players like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, this 2014 Cherokee has a lot riding on its success
Unlike the last 1990s Cherokee, this radically different Jeep is based on a car platform instead of a rugged truck chassis. This approach is lighter, to save fuel, and rewards the driver with good on-road manners. Built off the same Alfa Romeo-derived platform that the Dodge Dart uses, the styling is edgy and modern.
The sharp nose and small headlamps, along with the curved Jeep grille make a statement. Some Jeep aficionados might not be intrigued by this new design but newcomers to the brand might. The starting price is $23,495, which is less than all its major competitors. For this price, you get standard air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, two USB ports, a 5-inch Uconnect screen and power windows/doors. The AWD model starts at $25,695, which is also the lowest price model in this class. The closest competitor, on price, image and capability might be the Subaru Forester for $25,995.
The interior of the all-new Cherokee is more upscale than most of the competitors. The doors, armrest and dash are covered in soft touch materials. The front seats are supportive and comfortable. The rear seats too are comfy and slide for and aft for more cargo storage. When placed in the normal position, the legroom isn’t ample but on par with others in this class. Connecting to the Cherokee is a snap with the optional 8.4-inch Uconnect system that pairs smartphone in seconds, is very quick between commands, and has nice looking graphics. The base screen is five inches but has many of the same functionality. Behind the steering wheel, inside the instrument cluster, is another programmable screen for all the information the driver needs frequently.
The base 2.4L 4-cylinder with 184hp is the base engine on all trim levels. For just $1,300 any Cherokee can be equipped with the optional 3.2L V6 engine – making the walk up to this 271hp engine within reach for many buyers. In addition, this is the very first application of a 9-speed automatic anywhere in the auto industry, providing improved fuel economy and drivability. Having a chance to drive both the 4-cylinder and V6 models with the all-new 9-speed automatic, I’m torn. The V6 is the engine of choice for towing, steep mountain runs and longer distance driving. The flip side is that the 4-cylinder is a very good in-city commuter and the lighter engine helps this Cherokee to corner, brake and manouevre better. The 9-speed automatic shifts quickly and smoothly, in fact I forgot it had so many cogs but it does improve fuel economy with a highway rating of 6.4L/100km with the 4-cylinder and 7.0L with the V6.
Most Canadians will opt for the AWD versions thanks to our winter conditions, but here too there are more choices. Jeep has included three AWD systems. The first is a called Active Drive 1 with a selectable drive mode called Select-Terrain, for automatic, snow, mud and sand settings. The second is called Active Drive 2 and offers a two-speed mode for low speed crawling. The most aggressive system is Active Drive Lock, which comes in the off-road purpose-built Cherokee called Trailhawk. The Trailhawk is a ‘real’ Jeep; this is thanks to a locking rear differential and a host of electronic aids. The most impressive feature is the low speed crawling mode for both up and down hill tasks. Therefore, Jeep purists, yes there is a Cherokee for you.
This new Cherokee is off to a fantastic start. Sales are strong and the sharp design is bringing in buyers, not shoving them away. The 2014 Cherokee could not be further away from the last model; this is a thoroughly modern SUV with go-anywhere capability and around-town refinement that needs to be experienced.
Power: 184hp 2.4L 4-cylinder, and 271hp 3.2L V6.
Fill-up: 9.9L/7.0L/100km (city/highway AWD)
Sticker price: $23,695-$32,195