Jeep Cherokee adds sophisticated technology to a sturdy classic

  • Article by: MARK PHELAN , Detroit Free Press
  • Updated: December 6, 2013 - 10:26 PM

The technically sophisticated SUV can match up with front-drive crossovers, luxury models or rugged off-roaders.

hide

The 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.

Photo: Jeep, Mct - Mct

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

The 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 product development.

The 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.

Prices 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 V6 starts at $25,990 for front-drive and $27,990 for four-wheel-drive.

The 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 V6.

I tested a very well-equipped V6 Cherokee Limited with the midlevel 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.

The Cherokee I drove targets the X3 and Audi Q5, V6 versions of the Chevy Equinox and Hyundai Santa Fe, and the 4Runner 4x4.

The Cherokee’s many features make it a bargain compared to luxury SUVs, and few if any competitors match its off-road capability.

Chrysler 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.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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.

The net effect is that the Cherokee is a few lines of computer code away from being able to drive itself across the country.

It’s 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.

The V6 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.

The V6 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.

The 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.

  • 2014 JEEP CHEROKEE LIMITED 4X4

    Type of vehicle: Four-wheel-drive SUV

    Rating: Four out of four stars

    Engine: 3.2-liter 24-valve V-6

    Power: 271 horsepower at 6,500 rpm; 239 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm

    Transmission: 9-speed automatic

    EPA fuel economy rating: 19 mpg city/26 highway/21 combined. Regular gasoline

    Wheelbase: 106.3 inches

    Length: 182 inches

    Width: 73.2 inches

    Height: 67.3 inches

    Curb weight: 4,044 lbs.

    Reasons to buy: Off-road ability; features; value

    Shortcomings: cargo space; obviously fake wood trim

    Base price: $22,995

    Price as tested: $36,035

    Prices exclude destination charge.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

St. Louis - WP: L. Lynn 4 FINAL
Washington - LP: J. Zimmermann 3
Toronto - WP: M. Buehrle 5 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 0
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 5
Baltimore - LP: B. Norris 2 FINAL
Boston - WP: J. Tazawa 4
Minnesota - LP: K. Correia 4 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: B. Chen 5
Cincinnati - LP: T. Cingrani 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: E. Jackson 8
Houston 3 Bottom 9th Inning
Oakland 3
Milwaukee 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Atlanta 0 Top 1st Inning
NY Mets 0
NY Yankees 0 Top 1st Inning
Tampa Bay 0
Seattle 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Miami 0
Chicago WSox - J. Quintana 7:05 PM
Texas - C. Lewis
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 7:10 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Arizona - M. Bolsinger 7:10 PM
Los Angeles - D. Haren
San Francisco - T. Hudson 7:40 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
Brooklyn 94 FINAL
Toronto 87
Golden State 109 FINAL
LA Clippers 105
Atlanta 2 1st Qtr 10:29
Indiana 5
Memphis 8:30 PM
Oklahoma City
Chicago 3 FINAL(OT)
St. Louis 4
Columbus 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Minnesota 8:30 PM
Colorado
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 1 FINAL
Chicago 1
San Jose 0 2nd Half 44:55
Colorado 0
Los Angeles 0 1st Half 44:55
Vancouver FC 0
D.C. 6:30 PM
Columbus
Toronto FC 7:30 PM
FC Dallas
Montreal 7:30 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Portland 8:30 PM
Real Salt Lake
Seattle 9:30 PM
Chivas USA
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close