2014 Jeep Cherokee has serious off-road ability in
some trims, but Jeep will also offer
front-wheel-drive and four-cylinder Cherokees for
less adventurous owners.
four-star 2014 Jeep Cherokee is probably the most
technically sophisticated SUV ever built. That it
remains true to Jeep’s go-anywhere heritage and scored
EPA highway ratings up to 31 miles per gallon make the
new Cherokee a tribute to Chrysler and Fiat’s joint
Cherokee model range includes competitors for everything
from economical crossovers like the Honda CR-V and
Toyota RAV4 to luxury models like the BMW X3 and rugged
off-roaders like the Toyota 4Runner.
start at $22,995 for a front-wheel-drive Cherokee with a
2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. All Cherokees have a
nine-speed automatic transmission. The least expensive
four-wheel-drive model uses the 2.4-liter engine and
goes for $24,995. A 271-horsepower 3.2-liter V-6 starts
at $25,990 for front-drive and $27,990 for
Cherokee has three four-wheel-drive systems. The most
capable Trailhawk package has serious off-road features,
such as a locking rear differential and low range of
gears. Trailhawk starts at $29,495 with the 2.4-liter
and $30,990 with the V-6.
tested a very well-equipped V-6 Cherokee Limited with
the mid-level four-wheel-drive system. It features
included adaptive cruise control, lane-departure assist,
blind-spot alert, navigation, voice recognition,
Bluetooth music and phone compatibility, heated and
ventilated leather seats and automatic parking. It cost
$36,030. All prices exclude destination charges.
Cherokee I drove targets the X3 and Audi Q5, V-6
versions of the Chevy Equinox and Hyundai Santa Fe, and
the 4Runner 4x4.
Cherokee’s many features make it a bargain compared to
luxury SUVs, and few if any competitors match its
engineers modified an architecture Fiat developed for
compact European cars on the Cherokee. They stretched
and stiffened the platform to withstand off-road stress.
As with most cars and crossover SUVs, the unibody
chassis makes it lighter and more fuel-efficient than
truck-based SUVs like the 4Runner.
Cherokee has a roomy five-passenger cabin, but less
cargo space than most competitors. The interior of the
Cherokee I tested featured soft materials, but some
pretty obvious fake wood trim.
controls are among the industry’s most
driver-friendly, thanks to excellent voice recognition,
a large touch screen, and dials and buttons for volume,
tuning, fan speed and temperature.
Cherokee’s extensive safety and electronic systems
make it nearly capable of autonomous driving. Adaptive
cruise control maintains speed and following distance
and slows the Cherokee to a full stop. Lane-departure
assistance and automatic parking can steer the Jeep.
net effect is that the Cherokee is a few lines of
computer code away from being able to drive itself
across the country.
also exceptionally capable off-road. I drove a Cherokee
Trailhawk through deep mud and door-high water, over
basketball-sized rocks and up and down slopes that would
stymie most crossover SUVs.
V-6 provided plenty of power for highway driving, and
the four-cylinder was adequate for an afternoon’s
country drive. The ride is comfortable and quiet on the
road, and the suspension has plenty of travel for
punishing off-road conditions.
V-6 4WD Cherokee I tested scored 19 mpg in the city, 26
on the highway and 21 in combined driving on the EPA
test cycle. That’s as good or better than its
six-cylinder competitors, and considerably better than
the 4Runner, the only one intended for serious off-roading.
new Cherokee does so many things well that it’s hard
to figure out if its main competitors are front-drive
crossovers, luxury models or rugged off-roaders. It
doesn’t really matter, though. The 2014 Jeep Cherokee
is a match for any of them.
JEEP CHEROKEE LIMITED 4X4:
of vehicle: Four-wheel-drive SUV
Four out of four stars
3.2-liter 24-valve V-6
271 horsepower at 6,500 rpm; 239 pound-feet of torque at
fuel economy rating: 19 mpg city/26 highway/21 combined.
weight: 4,044 lbs.
to buy: Off-road ability; features; value
cargo space; obviously fake wood trim
as tested: $36,035
exclude destination charge.