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 JSBT on Sunday, November 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 400overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Power, Road Handling, U-Connect System"
Cons: "None at this time"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We own a 4-Runner, however my wife wanted something more car like that does really well in snow. We really looked hard at the Toyota Venza and also the Rav4. We test drove both and liked them, however even though the body style of the Rav4 improved we still didn't like the road noise from the floor board area and the 4 cylinder engine. The Venza was powerful & had a lot of interior room & comforts, but it felt very "grandma-ish". The Rav4 seemed to do okay and the cruise held fine at 80 mph, but it did seem to have to work at it...bit noisy. Based on my research, I really liked the Jeep Cherokee, but was very nervous based on the issues of the transmission failing early. After discussing this with the salesperson, we elected to test drive it. It is a lot more powerful than the Rav4, the ride is fantastic, the handle on it is very sporty feeling and the U-Connect system is...well...freaking awesome! We have no doubt it will kick butt in snow and the body style makes it very appealing. Another thing I liked is where Jeep stores the spare tire and the extra compartment area to store jumper cables and what not. Also there are a lot of USB and other charging areas in the front, passenger area & even hatch area. This was very disappointing with the Rav4 as it only had it in the front. Small issue, but that really frustrated us with the Rav4 and just another area where the Jeep excelled. We have only had it a week, but we are so happy we made this decision to go with the Jeep! We understand that the only draw back may be the transmission, but it will be covered under warranty if it does occur. Even though we still like Toyota...right now we are Jeep fanatics!!!"
9 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Stuke on Friday, November 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 375overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "interior, infotainment (8AN), ride, comfort, looks"
Cons: "no tonneau cover ($75) included"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"My wife and I love our 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I decided to go after the 2015 Jeep Cherokee for myself (after a year of drooling over the JGC). I've never been happier! First, we have parity in the 8AN infotainment system, plus mine is updated with "polished edges." The JPC is a 3.6L V6 and perfect, mines the 3.2L V6. In my break-in period (350 miles), I averaged on highway driving (80% of the time) 25.8 MPG. I expect it to improve once the engine settles in and the 9-speed transmission timing starts kicking in. I have the Active Drive II and tow-package so the suspension is stiffer and my efficiency probably takes a 1-2 MPG hit. I loaded it with everything EXCEPT the SafetyTec and Technology Packages. Why? For $2000, I figured I will stay awake while I drive, turn my head to lane change, and remember how I learned to park 20+ years ago...it is a small SUV after all. I do love the Cold Weather package with auto programmed heated steering wheel and driver seat. (We live in New England.) The ride is smooth, the shifting is smooth (perhaps one of the edges "polished" from the 2014 model), the interior is top-notch, but limited in space as you would expect. (If you want the maximum interior space, go for the RAV4 in this category.). Based on our 2014 JGC reliability, and the year to "polish edges," I'm looking forward to a very happy experience. Only gripe...be expected to find the most popular accessory items in short supply, and in the 2015 removed as "standard" vs. 2014...so you can pay more for them, of course."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Not Happy on Monday, November 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,500overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great mileage and easy to drive."
Cons: "Hard to get use to transmission at start and stop."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"At 10000 miles I started having trouble with the transmission and took it to the dealership where they had to reset some items for recall and to make it not stall, jerk and loose power. Now with 14500 miles on it I have the same situation. 5 times in the last week I got stuck in traffic and was put in harms way. It may have been a good idea at the time but I am tired of feeling that I will not make it to where I am going....."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful