Richard Nixon was the President when the first Jeep Cherokee came out in 1974.
The little sister to the Grand Cherokee continued all the way to 2001, a pretty good run for most vehicles. In 2002, Jeep introduced the Liberty, to fill the hole left by the Cherokee, and let’s just say things went downhill from there.
2014 Jeep Cherokee
I bring you the all-new, innovative 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Make no mistake, this is a true Jeep product, not just a cute SUV with a 7-slot grill. My tester is the top-of-the-line Limited and like all Jeeps SHOULD be, it is a four-wheel drive version.
Although you can get the Cherokee in a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, this one has the 3.2-liter V6 that has more than ample power for this just over 4000-pound compact SUV. Here is the cool thing: it has a 9-speed automatic transmission. I have to be honest, I was concerned about the 9-speed before it came out. Holy cow, that’s a lot of gears. I was concerned it would be constantly shifting, but if it is, you sure can’t feel it. In fact, it skips gears fluidly and smoothly to max out performance. Color me impressed.
In fact, this whole vehicle is impressive. The exterior looks terrific with part old Jeep and part new Jeep. It is sleek, has cool lines, and although it has the curves of so many SUVs these days, at a glance you just know this is a Jeep. The True Blue Pearl paint on this rig is beautiful and looks about a foot thick.
The interior is spectacular too. The leather seats are rich with stitching as is the dash. Everything is laid out great for the driver and the information center in the middle of the driver’s side dash is configurable and everything comes natural. I am a big fan of Uconnect, Chrysler’s infotainment system which is super easy to operate. Everything is very clear, including all the sound system, navigation system, climate system, etc. Standard on the Limited are backup camera, keyless entry, remote start, heated seats, power front seats, steering wheel controls, LED lights, 18” aluminum wheels, and a whole lot more. On this one, it has the Technology Group, and for $2155 you get blind spot monitoring, front collision warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam control, and it will even parallel park itself. This is an outstanding value for all that technology. The next group is the Luxury group and for $1595 you get those great leather seats which are air-conditioned, a power liftgate, and HID headlights. Navigation with HD radio and SiriusXM for a year will run you $795, you can upgrade the stereo to 9-speakers and a subwoofer for $395, and the upcharge for the V6 is $1495. The only thing I see that this vehicle could possibly add is the power sunroof. The Cherokee has an amazing amount of headroom for all five passengers, and it has nice legroom for the back seat occupants. The back seat is on a sliding track if even more legroom is needed. There is a little payback, however, the cubic-feet of rear storage area is less than Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4, and Ford Escape. Even with that, there is still good room back there.
The Cherokee is an extremely capable SUV, not just a small SUV, it’s a true Jeep. Handling is terrific, no body roll whatsoever, and you don’t feel every bump in the road, interior quietness is quite good. I had one day where I actually got to drive it on icy roads and it handled it like a champ. The Selec-Terrain switch allows you to change from auto to sport, to snow (which really helps) to mud/sand, and finally rock. You can configure it to suit your needs.
As I write this fairly early in December, the Cherokee was one of just three finalists for the North American Truck of the Year. The winner will be chosen at the 2014 Detroit International Auto Show, and I predict the Cherokee will take the honors.
The 4-cylinder version is rated at 31 highway, but I suspect you’ll be lacking power. This 6-cylinder even with 4-wheel drive is rated at an outstanding 27 miles per gallon, and it’s actually doing slightly better. If you love Jeeps, you’ll love this new Cherokee.
- What I liked most: The 9-speed automatic transmission.
- What I would change: It’s a little pricey versus competition, but the 4-wheel system makes it unique enough to justify the cost.
- MSRP: Base price $29,995, as equipped $37,425.
- Fuel Economy: EPA rated at 19 City/27 Highway.
- Weight: 4044 pounds.
- Warranty: 3 year/36,000 bumper-to-bumper, 5 year/100,000 powertrain with roadside assistance.
- Manufacturer’s website: Jeep
- 2014 Jeep Cherokee in a few words: A real Jeep in every way.