By Jack R. Nerad, Executive Editorial Director, KBB.com
KBB Expert Rating: 7.4
The new-for-2014 Jeep Cherokee SUV has more off-road capability than most of its buyers will ever think of using. In classic Jeep fashion, it will take on boulders and swamps that other vehicles in its class dare not confront. But even as we were effortlessly negotiating the precarious cliffs of the Moab, Utah, landscape, we had to wonder, "Does it make any difference?" You might be able to answer that based on your own expectations, but if you are considering a Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 or market-leading Honda CR-V, you should be aware that the Cherokee is different animal: Not only can it climb mountains, but it offers creature-comforts that might well be the best in class. That's why we named it one of the 10 Best SUVs Under $25,000 for 2014.
If you want Jeep off-road capabilities in your small SUV and are willing to sacrifice a little room to get them, the Cherokee is for you.
If you don't give two hoots about off-roading or if the Cherokee doesn't look enough like a classic Jeep to you, you might well make another choice.
The Jeep Cherokee is all-new for 2014, replacing the late and largely unlamented Jeep Liberty.
Driving Impressions The Jeep Cherokee is offered in four trims levels – Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk – and all but the Trailhawk are available in either front-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive (4WD) configurations....... A very clever chameleon, its on-road behavior is in keeping with everything else in the class – perfectly acceptable but largely uninvolving. Acceleration from the 4-cylinder is adequate, and, as you'd expect, response from the V6-powered version is better. But when you get the Cherokee off pavement, the world changes. Equipped with any of its three 4WD systems – Jeep Active Drive I, Active Drive II and Active Drive Lock – the Cherokee offers class-leading off-road prowess. One key reason is the standard Selec-Terrain traction-control system, which allows the driver to choose settings for optimum performance, including settings for Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud and Rock. It also has an "Auto" setting that decides for you, based on what the Cherokee's systems sense. All models offer good approach and departure angles plus reasonable ground clearance, while the Trailhawk version ups the ante in each department. Bottom line: the Cherokee performs very well as a daily driver, while at the same time offering you more traction enhancement than you'll probably ever need.
948TE 9-SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
Developed by global transmission giant ZF, Chrysler Group's 9-speed automatic transmission is standard equipment in all models of the new Cherokee. We appreciated its smooth launches and excellent power delivery, and the biggest plus is fuel economy that is vastly improved over the Liberty's 4-speed automatic.
Instead of relying on sheer muscle and torque multiplication, Selec-Terrain electronically coordinates and optimizes up to 12 separate vehicle systems to deliver control tailored to the environment you are traversing. Among the systems that get its special touch are the drivetrain control module, electronic brake controller, electronic stability control, transmission, and powertrain controller.
Both Jeep heritage (the trapezoidal "center stack") and Americana (an instrument panel layout that mimics the spread wings of an eagle) are represented in the 2014 Cherokee's attractive, upscale interior. The ergonomically designed seats offer good support and are trimmed with attractive cloth or Nappa leather. The top-of-the-line seats are power-adjustable, heated/ventilated and feature memory settings. The 60/40-split 2nd-row seats move forward and backward for increased passenger comfort and cargo flexibility. Among the coolest features are an available wireless-device charging pad and a glovebox so large "you could put a turkey in it," joked the Cherokee's lead interior designer, Winnie Chung. We also liked the optional 7-inch full-color configurable instrument cluster that functions like a smartphone.Exterior
The exterior design of the Cherokee is nothing if not controversial. Some critics have slammed the "kink" in the iconic 7-portal grille, but chief exterior designer Mark Allen noted that other Jeeps featured a somewhat similar front-end treatment. Fact is, this SUV looks much better in person than in photographs, and we warmed up to it quickly. The Cherokee is built off the same front-drive platform as the Dodge Dart, and we think the design and engineering team did a remarkable job in turning it into a vehicle that can truly be called a Jeep. The Trailhawk version kicks up the macho up a notch with a higher ride height, red-painted front tow hooks, skidplates and more aggressive front and rear fascias. For those who like to add open-air to their off-roading, the Cherokee offers a CommandView panoramic sunroof or the Sky Slider full-length-opening canvas roof.
The base Cherokee Sport is powered by the new 2.4-liter MultiAir2 Tigershark 4-cylinder engine offering praiseworthy fuel economy and a range of some 500 miles on a tankful. Standard equipment includes Uconnect 5-inch touch-screen media center with Bluetooth for hands-free phone and streaming audio, a media hub that offers USB, SD and auxiliary ports and charging capability, a 3.5-inch full-color center cluster, 10 air bags, anti-lock disc brakes, electronic stability control, traction control, Hill-start Assist, electric power steering, an electric park brake, cruise control, air conditioning with rear outlets, and remote keyless entry. The Jeep Cargo Management system includes standard hooks and a storage tote, and accessories are available.
Jeep figures the Latitude model will be the best seller, and its prime calling card is the availability of the 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 engine. It also offers two 4WD systems: Jeep Active Drive I, Jeep Active Drive II. Added standard niceties include a fold-flat front-passenger seat with under-cushion storage space, 17-inch aluminum wheels and a 115-volt outlet. Options include the Uconnect infotainment system with an 8.4-inch touch screen, Alpine premium audio with nine speakers and a subwoofer, and the CommandView dual-pane panoramic sunroof with power sunshade. The Cherokee Limited adds leather, heated power seats, a heated steering wheel, Keyless Enter-N-Go, automatic headlights, and 18-inch aluminum wheels. The trim level also features the Uconnect 8.4 system with SiriusXM Radio, ParkView rear backup camera, remote start, and dual-zone automatic temperature control. The Trailhawk isn't the traditional top-of-the-line trim model. Instead it concentrates on a variety of equipment that add off-road capabilities.
While many models in the segment are ditching their 6-cylinder variants to concentrate on the fuel-economy of the 4-cylinders, Jeep is adamant about offering a V6 version of the Cherokee. Its 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 engine produces 271 horsepower, 239 lb-ft of torque and delivers best-in-class V6 towing of 4,500 pounds. The 16-valve, 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir2 4-cylinder engine, standard in the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, is the more technically interesting of the two engine choices. Using an electro-hydraulic fully variable valve-lift system, the 2.4-liter engine produces 184 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. Perhaps more important, it offers an estimated 31-mpg highway fuel economy rating. That's more than a 45-percent improvement versus the outgoing model. The 9-speed automatic transmission, a first in the segment, is standard equipment in all models of the new Cherokee.
184 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
171 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 (front-wheel drive), 21/28 (4WD Active Drive I), 21/27 (4WD Active Drive II), 19/25 (4WD Trailhawk)
271 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
239 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 (front-wheel drive), 19/27 (4WD Active Drive I), 19/26 (4WD Active Drive II), 18/25 (4WD Trailhawk)
Given the fact that the Jeep Cherokee is landing smack-dab in the middle of one of the hottest segments in the American auto market, it's not too surprising that its pricing is right in line with its competitors. Key among them are the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4, but none of those worthy competitors currently offers a V6 option. Both the Escape and RAV4 previously offered V6s, but both went the 4-cylinder-only route after recent re-designs. In making your choice, you might look to what is most important to you. If you want the Jeep name, serious off-roading chops and reasonable towing capabilities, the Cherokee is the choice. If you do light-duty off-roading or no off-roading at all, other vehicles offer more interior space. That said the Cherokee is a good all-around SUV, and we expect it to deliver average to above-average resale value in its class.
By off roader on Monday, December 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,200overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Performance, comfort,technology,traction,style"
Cons: "4w flasher button too close to digital controls"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have the 6cyl Trailhawk and let me tell you, this is one fun automobile. I haven't had any repair issues yet but owning previous jeeps including a 2012 Wrangler just traded, this TrailHawk is so far, more reliable. The traction is outstanding, far superior to the Wrangler in mud or the deep sand of the beach which I frequent. Put it in sport mode on a dirt muddy road and it's fun time! The traction feels similar to an Outback XT that I used to have and the interior seems fashioned from an Outback as well, good qualities because it is super comfortable and quiet. Best Jeep that I've owned."
14 people out of 27 found this review helpful
By Satellite68 on Saturday, December 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice size, smooth ride."
Cons: "No spare tire can't figure out why. I did buy one"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought my wife a 2014 V-6 Limited in Nov 2013 drove though one of Chicago's worst winters in years with not a single problem.....Loved it so much bought myself one in April 2014."
8 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By Atticus on Monday, December 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 600overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Gas milage, pep, back up camera, touchscreen, fun"
Cons: "lack of Jeep capability (no trail rating)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love my new Jeep. I got the 2015 Cherokee Latitude, with the winter package, 8.4 gps, 3.2 L engine. I'm averaging about 19 miles around town. Not great, but not bad. When I get it on the highway, I'm averaging 25 mpg. Again, not great, but not bad. The latitude 3.2 L engines also features a Start/Stop function, which frankly was quite off putting at first. I don't mind it now, and you can turn it off, but it kind of freaked me out when it first happened (my sales person neglected to give me a heads up about it). Jeep needs to do some fine tuning to the system (i.e. idling for more than 3 seconds before shutting off). When your system is warm, and you go to put it in park after pulling into the drive way, the engine shuts off, then turns back on when you place it in park. I heard that starting and stopping within a 2 second interval is not good for gas economy or your starter. But I'm not a mechanic. I will continue to observe it over the next couple months, and if possible will post an update. I didn't get the nav system, but I have a Garmin with unlimited life long map updates, so there wasn't much point other than it cluttering my window space, especially considering I have an 8.4 inch display. The nav should be standard on the bigger screen. Let's talk about the PROs: -Backup camera standard on the Latitude -Pep--The sport mode allows me to go from 25 to 75 in a reasonable time, and though I don't leave it in this mode, for gas purposes, it is nice to have. -Great standard features: bluetooth, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry, (I have remote start too), touchscreen, HUD system w/trip computer, comprehensive gauges, etc -True to Jeep turn radius -Personally, I love the Cherokee's new look, which is modern, yet still has nods to the former self. -Solid feeling. You don't feel like you're in a cola can when you shut the door. You feel solid. -The interior. People have been giving it flack, and frankly, I'm confused as to why. Honestly, I love the interior. The back is comfortable, and has more features than your average midsize SUV. The seats fold down, and I have no doubt that I will be able to move a fair amount of my apartment's furniture. -Lots of storage compartments -Decent gas milage (as noted above) Some CONS: -Some visibility issues (I would recommend getting the blind spot warning, which I did not, and wish I had). Backing up can be difficult, especially without the camera (which I have) -Lower than average ground clearance. At 5'', it's a bit lower on the Latitude, Sport and Limited editions, unless you pay for the extra lift. -Unclear capability "off road." Lets face it, it's a Jeep, who doesn't plan on at least going a little "off road." Are we talking about Rubicon trails? Heck no, but frankly, I am a bit nervous about going camping this year, I don't want to get stuck, and I don't want to lose my 9 speed transmission. My 2005 Jeep Liberty Limited (God rest it's soul) had the more standard 8'' clearance, plus the trail rated badge--and that was the LIMITED. I've lost 3'' of clearance, and because I have Active Drive I, I lack a low mode. That being said, the ability to shift it into a "manual" drive will allow me to put it in 1st. Should Jeep have been allowed to call it a 4x4 when in reality it is really an all wheel drive system on the lower models? Just having 3 different available systems doesn't mean they are all 4x4 capable. When I think of 4x4, I think of being able to do things that I couldn't in an all wheel drive car--yet the Subaru Forester has 8'' clearance, and is proving to be a capable off roader, and the 2014 won all sort of awards for best SUV. My Jeep is rated at being capable of towing 2,000 lbs. Wrap up: Honestly, I don't regret my purchase (or the car payment which is accompanying it). I wish I would have been able to find THE system (Active Drive II, and the large sunroof would have been AWESOME) I wanted within the price range I desired. Frankly, I don't need everything which is standard in the Trailhawk (nor did I need the additional price). But, some more functionality would have been appreciated. That being said, I gave it all high marks, and I LOVE driving my Jeep."
16 people out of 22 found this review helpful