By on September 12, 2013

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There may not be a more important car launched this year than the Jeep Cherokee. A symbol of the union between Chrysler and Fiat, designed to lead Jeep’s push into the booming global crossover market, a bold new styling direction for the brand – these elements are all inextricably bound with the vehicle itself, with the Cherokee’s success in the marketplace vindicating all three. Predicting how well a vehicle will sell is always a crapshoot. I try to refrain from forming opinions of vehicles before driving them, but I couldn’t help but root for the Cherokee a little. It had sufficiently angered the Internet Product Planning division with its out-there styling, car-based platform and bold claims of off-road superiority. Charmed by the sheer gall of its contradictory mission (a CUV that can hang with true SUVs off-pavement), I wanted it to be a good vehicle on its own and succeed in the marketplace.

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My first preview of the Cherokee came last December, at a preview session at Chrysler’s Auburn Hills headquarters. A number of journalists were herded into the design wing as part of a product preview, with the Cherokee revealed last. After the sheet was pulled off, there were plenty of polite murmurs about it how it was “different” and “unique”. At a reception later that night, it was mocked mercilessly. I didn’t warm to it at first, but slowly came around to the idea, put forth by our own Marcelo De Vasconcellos, that it had to be polarizing

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In the flesh, it is much less jarring. Like most post-Bangle designs, bigger wheels are much more flattering, while the Trailhawk edition, with its black cladding, off-road rolling stock and red painted tow hooks, is downright desirable, morphing the car from a left-field cute-ute to an undeniably masculine looking off-roader. A walk around the car (which various Chrysler reps claimed were pre-production or early build cars) revealed fairly tight panel gaps, high quality paint and little evidence of sloppy assembly or corner cutting. Initially, I was optimistic that the numerous delays related to the Cherokee had yielded a nicely finished product that was done properly, even it wasn’t done on schedule. But the interior proved to be a major letdown.

The center stack will be familiar to anyone who has driven a Chrysler product, whether it was a Dart or a Durango. This is hardly a bad thing. If MyFord Touch is my benchmark for how not to engineer a user interface for a mass market automobile, then the UConnect/Chrysler parts bin layout used here is a shining example of how to get it right. Everything is intuitive, easy to use and free of lag, hesitation or any cheap-feeling materials. But beyond the center stack, there were some interior elements that felt alarmingly flimsy.

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The armrest/lid of the cubby just aft of the shifter felt like it was about to break off when opened, and giving it a little wiggle, like you would a child’s loose tooth, shook the entire shifter surround. The gauge needles, which are supposed to be red, look like they’ve been left in the California sun for a decade, while some of the stitching on the steering wheel was so wonky that it didn’t even need close examination – it was simply staring at me every time I moved the steering wheel and felt the poor stitching, which looked a bit like sutures performed by a drunken naval corpsman. I examined other Cherokees for similar quality defects, and they were largely uniform in having the same issues..

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Any hopes that the Cherokee would redeem itself with a Grand Cherokee-like driving experience were dashed within a few miles of leaving our starting point. While Jeep should be applauded for delaying the Cherokee on multiple occasions to iron out the trucklet’s various quirks, they didn’t quite go far enough. The downsized 3.2L V6 Pentastar engine is just as good as its 3.6L big brother, but its shine is tarnished by the much-touted 9-speed transmission. The ZF ‘box is about as calm as Robin Williams at his most amphetamine-addled, constantly hunting for gears on even minor grades, holding them for far too long, downshifting abruptly and generally doing everything it can to disrupt what should be a calm, collected driving experience. The throttle calibration is similarly abrupt, with a lifeless tip-in followed by a surge of power, while the brakes offer all the resistance of a sopping sponge.

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Even more damning was when the Cherokee was driven back to back against the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape Titanium on the “competitive loop”. The CR-V, charmless as it may be in the eyes of many TTAC readers, is at least quiet, smooth and composed on the road. It may look dated and even spartan inside, but it’s full of little touches – things like a very low load floor and one-touch rear folding seats – that matter a lot to the target demographic. There’s a reason it sold nearly 300,000 examples last year. The Escape, even with the dreaded MyFord Touch and gas guzzling 2.0 Ecoboost motor, puts on a clinic for what a pseudo-premium SUV should feel like. In my opinion, it’s just as sharp and responsive as a Mazda CX-5, while the 2.0 Ecoboost is an absolute monster at eating up the road (even if it eats up fuel at a similar rate). If the CX-5 is the Miata of crossovers, then this is the two-box, jacked up Focus ST. Only the Toyota RAV4, with its drab interior and half-baked dynamics, made the Cherokee look good. Against the others, it failed to shine, with discombobulated body motions on the handling loops and a surprisingly small cargo area. All the more damming was the $37,000 MSRP for my Cherokee Limited trim level tester.

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Where the Cherokee does redeem itself is off-road. All the talk from Jeep about the Cherokee’s off-road competence is not just PR messaging. Jeep set up a treacherous off-road course with rock crawling, deep-craters, steep dirt inclines and sphincter-clenching downhill sections. For any of the competitive set, it would be the automotive equivalent of a Turkish prison. But the Trailhawk testers we used to traverse the course didn’t break a sweat. With Jeep’s ActiveDrive Lock AWD system, a rear differential locker and the nifty Selec-Speed Control (which can limit your speed to as low as 0.6 mph for crawling scenarios), the Cherokee acquitted itself admirably off-road. It makes one wonder why body-on-frame SUVs need to exist if a crossover, let alone a more rugged unibody SUV, can handle off-road driving so well. On the on-road sections, our Limited tester had ActiveDrive II AWD, which does not have the rear locker (it’s an option), but adds two low-range (2.92:1) planetary gearboxes at both front and rear differentials, as well as a Neutral mode, in addition to selectable Auto, Snow, Sport and Sand/Mud modes. Other models have either the basic ActiveDrive I (your typical CUV AWD system that keeps it mostly in FWD mode) with ActiveDrive II as an option.

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Any reservations about the new Cherokee dishonoring the vaunted XJ Cherokee of years past, as well as the Jeep brand, can be put to bed. This is the real deal as far as off-road capability. The big problem is that the vast majority of Cherokees, Trailhawk models included, will probably not see an off-road course. At most, they’ll traverse a gravel driveway or a turnout. If you want a crossover that can hang with a Wrangler Rubicon, then there is no other option. But for anybody looking for a solid CUV option for the daily grind, it’s tough to recommend the Cherokee. Discounting its amazing off-road abilities, it does not appear to be competitive with the current class leaders in terms of on-road performance, build quality and cargo capacity. The fact that its big brother, the Grand Cherokee, is so competent makes the Cherokee’s faults even more disappointing. The current Grand Cherokee is my favorite SUV at any price. All trim levels, from the lowliest Laredo to the insane SRT, shine with excellence. I wish I could say the same for its baby brother.

Chrysler provided airfare, meals and accomodations for the writer on this driving event.

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166 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2014 Jeep Cherokee...”


  • avatar
    retrogrouch

    That thing pinballed between the ugly walls of ugly armco at the Ugly Speedway and Rock Crawling Emporium. The safety crews then sprayed it down with extra ugly foam.

    For the future of Jeep/Dodge/Chrysler, I hope they sell 1.21 jillion of them so they can afford to continue making Wranglers.

    • 0 avatar

      Unlike Toyota’s halo off-roaders, Wrangler is very profitable all by itselt and is sold in significant numbers (we’re talking about 14,000 a month in just the U.S.), so it does not need any help from the corporate. In fact it floats the product revolutions elsewhere at Fiatsler. The problem is what’s going to happen next. If it starts sliding where Land Cruiser is, it’s going to be a problem.

      • 0 avatar
        spw

        Uh, you do know that Land Cruiser’s sold 350k last year, right? Yes, at those crazy prices. It is by far the most successful vehicle for Toyota.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Where did you get that number from? Toyota sold about 2900 of the 200-series Land Cruisers in the US market in 2012.

          So you’re telling me that other markets bought 347000 additional 200-series LCs?

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            This data is not current, but the sales wre at 260K units in 2006, and on a strong uptrend.

            http://www.toyota.com.kw/english/toyota_models___/landcruiser/history/html/sales/sales_annual.html

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Yea, but I’m guessing lots of the sales are on the older and cheaper 70-series. I’m guessing Prado sales are included in those figures as well.

            The mega buck 200-series sells in smaller numbers.

  • avatar
    retrogrouch

    Is that a ZF box built by Chrysler under license from ZF is it an actual ZF transmission?

    • 0 avatar
      Sceptic

      Co-developed by ZF(main design) and Chrysler(tweaks to adopt to their mass production lines). Will be built by Chrysler in Indiana. Manufacturing completely independent from ZF.

      • 0 avatar
        IndianaDriver

        The 9-speed in this vehicle is completely engineered by ZF and built by them at a new factory in Grey Court, South Carolina. ZF is also building 8-speed transmissions at this same factory. ZF cannot handle enough of the 8-speed orders from Chrysler, in addition to the other automakers, so Chrysler has licensed the 8-speed design to build it in Kokomo, Indiana. Both the 8 & 9 speed transmissions are completely designed by ZF. However, the computer software for the shift changes may be tailored by the various automakers using the transmissions.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    On the bright side, software problems are easier to fix than hardware problems. What manufacturers should do is make different driving modes, with “ECO” being whatever is needed to ace the EPA tests, and “NORMAL” being reflective of how people actually drive.

  • avatar
    michal1980

    I forgot how ugly this thing was. Polarizing is never good, try to spin it whatever way you want, bland win’s volumes. Polarizing wins fanboi’s.

    And fanboi’s tend to be broke.

    More importantly. If someone is buying an offroader, they’ll get the wrangler. with the unlimited rubicon coming in at nearly the same price as the trailhawk.

    And its far less ugly.

    PS, the escape with the 2.0 ecoboost engine is a really fun drive. Gas sucking yes, but I’ve driven it through some rural CO mountain highways and it was a blast.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “I forgot how ugly this thing was. Polarizing is never good, try to spin it whatever way you want, bland win’s volumes. Polarizing wins fanboi’s.”

      Not always true. There are many examples of how polarizing wins, like the PT Cruiser or the original Taurus. In the case of the Taurus it is well documented that Ford went for polarizing, because the people who really liked it would actually buy one, where if the vehicle were bland or traditional, they might consider it second or third. In the case of that vehicle, the gamble paid off big time.

      In the case of the Cherokee, I think it was the best choice as well. I’m not especially fond of it, but it will stand out. And those who like it, really like it. Hopefully the rest of the vehicle’s qualities meet their expectations and the issues Derek noted are not representative of production models.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        $37,000 though? For reals and with those interior faults? And not at this vehicle’s size. You’re into loaded Highlander or 4Runner money then.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Sloppy interior fit & finish? Check

          Cheap & flimsy interior parts? Check

          Poor driving dynamics on pavement? Check

          Probable reliability & durability that will be at least as bad as Fiat of Europe? Check

          An MSRP 25% higher (which means actual transaction prices will result in BUKU discounts lest this customer metal get stacked & racked 9 yards deep) than what it has any justification to be?

          CHECK

          “The Italians are coming! The Italians are coming!”

          • 0 avatar
            Thatkat09

            Its Pre-Production dude. I think you should wait to pass judgement on the interior.

          • 0 avatar
            Humdrum

            Watch this review. there are at least 6 or 7 other reviews that refute this particular take (TTAC). Unless you are a dedicated Chrysler/Fiat hater or a troll.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey! Danio is right. Bland is good when you’re the leader. It doesn’t repel the faithful and keeps volumes. However, if you want to gorw or gain in a competitive market or segment, polarizing is good cause strong reactions make people notice while also making those who love it to commit more. If you don’t mind a design you may buy, if you like the urge to buy gets stronger, if you love it you’re that much closer to signing the check.

      I wrote an article abouth the Cherokee comparing it to the Twingo and the rationale behind such decisions. I think it sums up this kind of game pretty well.

      • 0 avatar
        michal1980

        your just wrong.

        Look at the ford fusion. It stands out, and I’m sure there a few that think the design stands out too much. IMHO, its a striking design that still blends in, and doesn’t cause a ‘this thing is butt ugly’ reaction form a huge number of people.

        This cherokee strikes many as ugly. Sure it stands out, but how many people want to drive a turd?

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Except he’s not. We’ve already given proof that polarizing designs can indeed make exceptionally selling products.

          Believe it or not, there are plenty of people who hate the new Fusion’s looks. You can find them on the pages of TTAC. Yet there are many who REALLY like the looks, and went and immediately bought the car at sticker price.

          What you really don’t want as a car company is people to see your design and say, “it’s alright”. They aren’t going to talk about your car and they aren’t in a hurry to go down and buy one. Some cars can sell in volume based on their reliability laurels, but when you don’t have the cred, you have to give people another big reason to run out and buy.

        • 0 avatar
          Beerboy12

          Marcelo is not wrong. For a number of reasons the Fusion is polarizing… Aston Martin copy cat and all…

        • 0 avatar
          Beerboy12

          I was not able to find much info but approach, breakover and departure angels are better than a Toyota Rav4…
          Approach angle 38°
          Breakover angle 24 °
          Departure angle 32°

          From http://www.allpar.com/SUVs/jeep/2014-cherokee.html
          Again… not sure how accurate this info is.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I really think that “polarizing designs” are just a cheap way to stand out on the market, not only can anyone do it but the market is so full of bizarre designs that anymore weird products just sort of blend in.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Marcelo, the problem is Jeep already has two successful good looking vehicle design directions to choose from, traditional Jeep Wrangler or new Jeep Grand Cherokee. I’m reasonably confident buyers would prefer a Jeep Cherokee that looks like a smaller Jeep Grand Cherokee. Not sure how they fix the Cherokee FWD too much nose hanging out in front of the front wheels problem, but nothing about that nose helps.

        • 0 avatar

          Hey George B!

          I can’t say whether a mini Grand Cherokee would sell more or not. Somebody at Chrysler though would know. I’m guessing the Cherokee at clinics got stronger reactions. So that’s what they went for. Not to mention that by now even casual car buyers have heard of the ruckus. I’m pretty sure just a mini GC wouldn’t have stirred so much debate. So, I’m pretty confident they’re getting pretty much what they planned for.

          As to the nose and FWD, well, Jeep loyalists may not like it, but people who actually buy a car like this could probably care less.

    • 0 avatar
      bollockitis

      I think you have it backwards. I am not a Jeep fan, nor is my wife, and we both like the Cherokee’s styling. It seems that Jeep fans hate the styling because it isn’t as testosteronal as a Wrangler, while I suspect most consumers cross-shopping CUVs will like it because it has that Range Roverish appeal that suburbanites love so much.

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly bollockitis. There are more of you than of hardcore off roaders. Jeep is going after you and after buyers of Asian-brand CUV buyers as it looks more Asian than traditional American or European designs.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Yep, cowboy aesthetics will deliver a smaller and smaller market. Anymore, Traditional American Values are mostly found in VA hospitals. Asia is Boss.

          I say this while hating its reality.

          • 0 avatar

            I can’t say I disagree Kenmore. I have always liked American or European design better. I can’t say I’m imune from the contagion though, as I find this design weirdly appealing. The Cruze (hatch) is a pretty good design too, attractive really. The Kia Sportage in spite of the slits for windows is attractive too. Oh well.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Yeah, Marcelo, “Oh well” is right. You pick from what they offer. My core beliefs in what a vehicle should be were formed when gas was 25 cents/gallon.

            You could push any size, shape or weight of vehicle down the road with acceptable mileage at that price. Add government intrusiveness to tyrannical aerodynamics and dysfunctional fashion trends…. jeez, why do we even still call them “cars”? How about MCUs? Mobile Compliance Units.

          • 0 avatar

            LOL! Yep, that’s what they’re becoming, aren’t they? MCUs…good one!

          • 0 avatar
            azmtbkr81

            You are going to make me cry Kenmore. Sometimes I wish I had been born 40 years earlier than I was.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            @azmtbkr81

            No doubt about it. If you had/acquired the means, and didn’t get killed/maimed/crazed in Vietnam, you’d have had a life of bliss unparalleled.

          • 0 avatar
            toxicroach

            So, you want landau to come back?

            Times change. I think it’s great that cars are actually distinctive and stylish again, instead of all being vaguely aero blobs or brick shaped.

            The last 30-40 years of mass market car designs have not been that great (IMO). I’m glad to see regular cars that are trying to be visually interesting, even if I don’t like all of them.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The design works for me. I’m not in the market for a small CUV, but if I were, this car’s styling and off road cred would be attractive to me.

      And as far as the off road capability is concerned, practically one takes Land Rovers off road, but being able to do so is definitely a selling point, wouldn’t you say?

      The idea that someone would actually cross shop this with a Wrangler is ludicrous. Two completely different kinds of buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      neonturbo

      I also think it is ugly. Polarizing is just a polite way to say it is ugly.

      This is another one of those cars designed by committee. The front, middle, and rear sections look like they were all designed by different people and sort of glued together at some point. The front is too busy, the rear too plain.

      I wonder if it would have done better as a Chrysler or Dodge instead of being labeled Jeep?

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      The sides and rear are OK. But fercryinoutloud, what the hell were they thinking with the front-end? They could have easily done a more aerodynamic riff on the GC (which is IMHO the best looking SUV out there, and would be on my short list were I in the market).

      Instead, they took the Juke’s front-end, made it clunky and rectangular, mixed a seven-slot grille into the soup, then plopped it on this vehicle!

      This gives me the same vibe as the newer large-Bentley (not the Continental/Flying Spur)–it Just. Looks. Weird!!

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Derek…pretty nice review…except I am totally hurt this new Jeep will not be what I wanted it to be. I was soooo looking forward to it being good. A real let down.
    I am surpised you spoke well of the Escape since I thought you did not like Ford products.
    You remarks about the 2.0 are kind of wrong, since it is separated from all competition in what I hold good engines to…power.
    Yes, it does get lower MPG than I hoped, but my 2.0 is averaging 25.9 right now in the Ozarks around Farmington. And it does the 31 hwy easily when it has to. This pretty good considering all the wonderful power and pull I get when asked for suddenly facing a steep climb out of a moutain corner. It has the same instand pull my 09 Mazda6 S had. I miss that 3.7 here.

    So…what do you think went wrong here with so many things? Were suppliers lacking in their work? Most of the things you mention, like the stitching and gauge needles color, are all done by outsorced companies. Why would Jeep not be in their faces about this kind of work???

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Derek likes Ford products when they are good.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I too am a bit disappointed that the Cherokee has not met with expectations. The off-road capabilities were important because of the namesake, but at the cost of everything else I’m not sure it will be enough to carry it through. I was going to buy this, but got tired of waiting through the delays and went with the Escape. I’m now glad I did. Thanks for a good review, Derek

    • 0 avatar

      TrailerTrash,

      Thanks for the compliments. A couple things.

      1) I don’t dislike Ford products at all. I judge cars based on the nameplate, not the overall brand. I like the F-150, Mustang, Fiesta, Explorer and Escape just to name a few.

      2) Past experiences with the 2.0 EB have yieled the same result. It’s a beast, powerwise, but it tends to be a heavy drinker.

      3) Before I wrote my review, I went over my notes with a fellow reader who works for a supplier now, but once worked for an OEM. It seems that the supplied parts are the letdown here. On the pre-pro examples here, things like the paint, the weather stripping etc seemed to be installed properly. Panel gaps looks nice and tight. This suggests that the guys at the Toledo plant have their act together. I really hope that these issues can be remedied prior in the critical 90-days after Job 1 period. I am hoping to get one out of the local press fleet and see how it performs at some point in the future.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        As long as you don’t get blacklisted.

        • 0 avatar

          Blacklist or no blacklist, they have some good products. And that whole matter seems to be put to bed anyways.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I was jokingly refering to the Cherokee you want to test in the press fleet. I’m pretty certain you won’t be blacklisted by Chrysler of Canada though. Lets get you into an Avenger with a 2.4L and no options and see if we can do anything about that though. Although, I don’t think Fiatsler is banking on the Avenger being the fresh new, profitable direction the company is going in.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Which TTAC writer, editor or staffer “doesn’t like Ford products?”

            Derek lambasted the press Lincoln MKfuZion he had, and that was notable only because it was the exception to the general TTAC rule.

            Hell, even Jack hasn’t met a Ford OR EVEN LINCOLN (!) that he doesn’t at least like (he mostly loves them dearly).

            Ford is the most likely make of vehicle to get hyperbolic praise when it’s even a competitive rather than class leading vehicle being reviewed, and a pass when it’s a dog & laggard, here on TTAC.

            Show me that I’m wrong.

  • avatar
    SayMyName

    If this and the woeful Dart are the best that a combined Fiat and Chrysler can do, I am not impressed – and, again like the Dart, I suspect buyers won’t be either.

    Seriously, folks – Fiasler’s in trouble.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Derek – were these pre-production models, by chance?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “A walk around the car (which various Chrysler reps claimed were pre-production or early build cars) revealed fairly tight panel gaps, high quality paint and little evidence of sloppy assembly or corner cutting.”

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        See, some of us actually read these articles.

        • 0 avatar
          walker42

          If Danio just drove a production Cherokee at a dealer I wonder why they didn’t have one at the press event Derek attended.

          Derek I agree on the Escape. Went to test drive a CX5 and Escape with the folks. Expected to like the CX5 and did but the engine was too loud inside and outside of the vehicle. I believe I heard somewhere that DI engines are noisy.

          I expected the Escape to drive like a pig because of its heavy weight but it was as good as the CX5 overall. You were first to say that in print. I think the lighter effort steering helps a lot, it makes the Escape effortless to fling around. The wonderfully fluid turbo adds the intoxicating zing. You work more in the CX5 when accelerating or turning.

          The Escape was quieter and smoother riding. The styling is a bit polarizing but I like it.

  • avatar
    dwford

    The whole compact CUV segment leaves me cold. Minimal 4×4 capabilities, so so gas mileage, compromised utility and visibility due to the styling, high prices. The automakers really are fleecing the sheep with these buckets. $37,000 for a Rav4?? You can get a loaded Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T for less than that – a whole size bigger! Get serious.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      You can get an Explorer XLT/Limited as well. Probably even a discounted Tahoe.

      People don’t buy these to go offroad. They buy compact CUVs because they are easier to cart kids and stuff around than in a compact sedan or hatchback, if only marginally. They also like the styling. The MPG hit from a small sedan isn’t breaking anyone’s pocketbook.

      They are good vehicles for small families, and they sell extremely well. I kind of drive a small CUV, a C-Max, and it is much easier to get my daughter in and out of the car than in the Focus we used to have (or any other small hatchback/wagon).

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I dunno of any compact CUV’s in which I think styling is a plus, for me. I can’t believe people spend $37K for these, when they’re A) too small, and B) too common, oh, and C) NOT luxurious.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          At least the old Patriot/Compass starting at less than $20,000 and really nicely equipped for less than $30,000. My local Dodge/Jeep/Chrysler/Ram dealer sold them like gangbusters. I really can’t see them selling too many Cherokees without heavy incentives.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            And the Compass was just complete crap, I’ll add. Lol.

            Plus the back on the new Cherokee doesn’t look like a Jeep, it looks like a Kia. I thought at first the pic was of the other competitors there, and it was a Sportage.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “And the Compass was just complete crap, I’ll add. Lol.”

            The ’07-’10s were. The ’11s and up actually aren’t horrible.

          • 0 avatar
            afflo

            This would be perfect as the Compass – keep the Patriot small, and make give them two CUV lines.

            I heard rumors of a smaller vehicle to fit in as a Wrangler Jr., and got excited… for a moment. After all, the Wrangler has grown to near H3 proportions.

            But, I doubt it would be anything like an old Wrangler. No soft top, half doors, water resistant interior, small, light, 4-cylinder option, etc. I’d wager that it’ll be something cartoonish, like a Mini Countryman with a Jeep grille.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            I see leftover Liberty’s advertised for for under $20K. Granted it is crude compared to it’s replacement, does not have the Pentastar, only the older 3.7 and still has a somewhat upgraded Cebarus era Rubbermaid like interior. But if you can live with that it’s a decent on-off roader.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I don’t like the styling, but it seems women sure do.

          Fortunetly, my wife liked the look of the C-Max better. She was going to learn to love it anyway, because I think its a better for us than the Escape.

          For $37K you can buy a low mileage 2-3 year old large CUV/SUV, and $7-12K worth of fuel. I shouldn’t do the new car-used car arguement though. The Lexus RX arguement you brought up is sufficient.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Saw a Fiesta 4-door the other day, and realized that with that, the Focus Hatch, the C-Max, and the Escape, Ford has a very Germanic-like “one sausage, several lengths (and heights).”

            Same general profile, same C-pillar.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        A discounted Tahoe… whoopee. Same interior room as the bigger compact CUVs, but drinks twice the gas, in exchange for some towing capacity I’ll never use and a macho image. No thanks.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Look into how terrible the mileage is on Traverse/Enclave and Explorer and get back to us.

          If you need something of that size for your brood or overcompensation, the used Tahoe is a home run for similar money.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The Tahoe is quite a bit smaller inside than the Traverse/Enclave. Its interior space is more akin to an Equinox. You have to go all the way up to a Burban to get a large-family-friendly interior in a truck.

            A Tahoe is a big-outside, small-inside, terrible-driving waste of metal. The only advantage it has over its car-based competition is towing. Well, that and the ability to put on 24s if you’re into that sort of thing.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Fine, pick any midsized SUV that gets similar gas mileage. The Edge with leather and Nav can be had for about $30K. Thats $7K to make up the fuel economy difference.

            I’m no Tahoe fan, and would be much more likely to buy a compact CUV.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @dal20402

            Tahoe also offers a solid drive-train with true 4×4 capability, while CUVs of any flavor typically lack both. If you’re the type of buyer who purchases new and expects a decade or more/200K from this purchase with predictable reliability and maintenance, Tahoe fits the bill. If large CUVs really delivered on mileage I would argue the Tahoe and the like are relics who don’t meet the needs of most families, but unfortunately this isn’t the case.

            @bball40dtw

            I’ll take the low miles used Tahoe for the same price, run it for fifteen years and sell it for a few grand while that Edge is being made into Chinese refrigerators. Personally I like things that last, be rebuilt, or can be refurbished for long term use, like my 240. Keeping yourself on the new car [design] treadmill costs you in the long run.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I understand why people buy small CUVs. They are the perfect size for small families that want something bigger than a small sedan. $37K is alot of money though.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            There’s be no market for them in the wake of normal sized sedans possibly riding on a LWB chassis similar to the longer doors I see on popular CUVs (I presume for child hauling/child seats). The only thing a RAV or the like would still do better in such a scenario would be the “riding high” crap.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I like the euro MPVs. You don’t ride higher, but the doors are taller. I see an advantage to that. Where’s my darn S-Max Ford?

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        The C-MAX is great. It has excellent fuel economy, plenty of (usable) space, allows ingress and egress with relative ease, a comfortable ride…and it looks much better styling-wise than its nearest competitor, which is the aardvark-shaped Prius V.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Theres nothing “polarizing” about making yet another strange CUV and offering it in grey, in that picture above with other models in the segment the Cherokee fits in just fine.

    What would be polarzing, and encourage loyal fans to buy a few models, is to offer something bearing some resemblance to real Cherokees, perhaps with wood trim which nobody else does.

  • avatar

    I wonder, does the new transmission have a learning function like the one in my T&C? I was unhappy with the odd shifts in our test unit but was told that the transmission learns your driving habits. Sure enough, about 600 miles in now, the transmission in our van is totally settled.

    I have a tendency to drive like a little old man and am really light on the throttle so I notice abrubt gear shifts at unexpected times. I’m really happy that the trans has figured that out.

    • 0 avatar
      Sceptic

      That new ZF/Chrysler 9-speed uses 40 pre-defined “maps” designed to match various driving styles and road conditions.

      In recent years practically all automatics are “learning”. And have been that way for a while. The important points that have been worked on through the years are: how smart the logic is? how quick does it learn and re-adjust?

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Kind of confused…
      My MKS trans is having issues with a clunking on peddle touch in around 20 mph. I reach 20 MPH, lay off the peddle, the downshift happns…then I slightly touch the peddle and now there is a clunk under the driver side somewhere….
      I can hear this clunk as well when it down shifts into a lower gear on slow downs…

      Now I am being asked by a dealer IF I am the only driver and this trans learns from the driver’s style.
      Well…then what happens with multiple drivers in one house? My wife drives totally different from me.

      Is this a reason for this trans struggle?
      How would such learning deal with this? Seems like this is a strange thing for multiple drivers using one car.

  • avatar
    Tinn-Can

    It looks like a cheap Chinese knock off already…

    • 0 avatar
      SayMyName

      Might as well be ahead of the curve, for a change…

    • 0 avatar
      Stumpaster

      Yeah that curve on the bottom of front side window is all Buick.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        And yet somehow it’s executed wrong. That (and the way it leads into the cutline on the A pillar) is the detail that makes me hate looking at this car. I could find a way to get past just about everything else. I feel similarly about the rear window shape on the Genesis Coupe.

    • 0 avatar
      10000 Angry Vegans

      It looks like we might be in for a whole bunch of cars stuck in the same fashion rut — I mean, er, groove.

      The 2013 Citroën C4 Picasso also looks like someone bolted the entire front section on upside-down, and there have been more than just a handful of other models showing up on European news sites exhibiting the same peculiar trait. Aerodynamics, so the story goes.

      I must say don’t like it, in that the stacking of the front elements reminds me a lot of the Aztek. But then I’m not looking to buy one of these things, ever, and my enjoyment will be limited to squinting at them suspiciously in car parks and seeing if I can spot the owner before they reach in their pockets for the keyfob.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        You have a rape van?

        • 0 avatar
          10000 Angry Vegans

          Did you leave off a “…too?”

          Seriously though, the side windows on cars are so factory dark these days they’re practicality all rape vans. Brother in law’s just bought a new Mazda6 that you simply cannot see inside without leaving an imprint of your face on the outside.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I was seizing upon your last few sentences, which could be construed differently by a non-car person (or a “non-car person”) to make a joke (in poor taste & and not that funny).

            I love the dark tinted windows to be honest. Even in relatively mild Michigan summers they help keep interior temps down and more importantly, the side tint is a major plus when our toddler is in the vehicle.

            I was provided an unfairly maligned Catera by work a while back, and it had the most effective solar glass of any vehicle I’ve yet driven. It wasn’t that dark per se, but had a reflective tint that was more than surface level deep.

            That car had a really refined, taut but comfortable ride over any road surface – it was probably the best ride quality of any vehicle south of 70k I’ve experienced.

            What were we talking about again?

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    Derek, did you get a chance to test the competition on the off-road circuit? If so, were they set up with similar tires as the Cherokee?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Lexus set the bar so low this is starting to look good to me.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    Comparing the Cherokee’s off-road ability to that of a Wrangler Rubicon is a bit much. It is akin to claiming a Volkswagen GTI can keep up with a Corvette on a road course. Sure the GTI has sporty intentions and somewhat passable performance but it just isn’t in the same league – it isn’t a sports car. Same with the Cherokee, it is an economy car on steroids.

    The Jeep magazines, whose editors are well versed in off-road driving, are claiming Cherokee’s ability is pretty good for a crossover – which is about the same as was said of the Patriot. http://www.fourwheeler.com/vehicle-reviews/1308-2014-jeep-cherokee-kl-hits-the-dirt/

    Jeep has released a vehicle that isn’t as refined as its small crossover competitors that lacks the off-road chops to hang with SUVs. Well played Jeep, hopefully there are enough sorority girls in need of new wheels to make this thing viable.

  • avatar

    I told everyone who were willing to listen that frame and solid axles are immaterial off-road unless we talk extreme rock crawling. The low gear is what makes SUV, not the frame.

    Too bad Derek is going to get blacklisted by someone other than Ford Canada.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      I agree with you Pete but an SUV must have a chassis and suspension designed to withstand the abuses of off-road driving with an emphasis on articulation. Traditionally that has been the BOF/solid axle combo. I don’t know that it must be in the future but jacking up a compact car and slapping in a low range doesn’t cut it.

      • 0 avatar
        MK

        C’mon people. You don’t NEED a frame for some ridiculously extreme examples just go to Naxja . Com and look at this cute-ute’s namesake (the Cherokee XJ for the uninformed).

        The only thing you really need for Bona-Fide offroader cred is solid axles and/or ground clearance.

        That being said, this looks better now than when I first saw it. I’d consider one except I’m a complete cheapskate and 37k for that little thing is fuggin crazy talk .

        It’s clear that wrangler platform will be the offroad choice and these are for suburban and urban markets.

        I honestly can’t believe what they’re charging for vehicles these days. Jeez

  • avatar
    iMatt

    Derek, for what it’s worth, thank you for a well written and informative review. I was half expecting to read another snarky and smug rant, however, after reading this piece I came away pleasantly surprised.

    I came to appreciate TTAC’s no B.S approach when I first stumbled across the site. Micheal Karesh for example was excellent at conveying what a car was all about objectively without the emotional tirades – there’s plenty of other resources on the web for that crap.

    I was worried TTAC was beginning to morph into another holier-than-thou “car enthusiast only” site. This piece gives me hope.

    And please, if any of your editor’s feel the need to mock my post again by highlighting any grammar or spelling mistakes, save it. I give you guys the same respect.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    I swear the front end of this thing looks like some marine creature one would find lurking in the depths where the Titanic permanently rests.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    None of the other reviews across the internets has been this critical of it’s driving experience.

    The styling will be a hit.

    BTW, the new Dart 2.4 is getting good reviews and non GT’s are rated 36 hwy mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      SayMyName

      …While every other competitor is rated at or over 40. Forgive me, I fail to see how marketing the Dart as the least efficient compact sedan available will be a winning strategy.

      Take off the pentastar-shaped blinders for a minute, bill. Rolling out the GT’s heavier, thirstier 2.4L throughout most of the Dart lineup shows that Fiasler has no f***ing clue what to do with the car.

      • 0 avatar
        shelvis

        Nice try but the Dart has a model rated at 41 MPG, just like everyone else. And the competitors are all coming in at around 30 something MPG for their base engines, just like Dart.

        • 0 avatar
          SayMyName

          …And how many Aeros do they actually sell? Please, enlighten us.

          Fact is, the 1.4L is such a horrible engine (at least in this application) that Fiasler was forced to desperately make a much less efficient motor the default choice for its purported “economy” car.

          • 0 avatar
            Thatkat09

            The hate is strong within this one.

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            “The hate is strong within this one.”

            More like genuine frustration. As I said a bit further down the thread, I WANT to like these cars, but what I’ve seen so far tells me they’re subpar efforts. At least with the Dart, the American car buying public appears to agree with me.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Try actually spending some time with one before so thoroughly trashing it. The 1.4 Multi Air is actually quite a fine engine, especially when paired to a manual trans. Makes decent power and returns very competitive mileage.

            Some people hate the dual clutch auto, this is not unique to just the Dart however, North Americans just tend to hate their behavior.

            Some people hate the 2.slow engine. It’s about as slow as other base economy car engines, but to appease those wanting more power, the 2.4 is being released.

            From my own honest experience with the Dart, it is class leading in many ways, the powertrain combinations so far haven’t been the most ideal according to many drivers. Comparing to other compacts, it’s a pretty fine car.

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            danio, if the 1.4 is such a good engine, then why did Fiasler feel the need to so drastically reduce its availability? The market has spoken.

            I’ve sat in a Dart, and was not impressed at all with the design, plastics, components or build quality. The hood was also slapped on about 1/4″ off center, which resulted in pretty sizable gaps all around. I felt no need to drive it as the car made a truly vile impression just sitting on the showroom floor.

            I have driven the Focus and Cruze, as well as an Elantra, ’13 Civic and ’14 Forte. Each conveyed a more favorable impression (yes, even the Daewoo) than the Dart did. The only notable positive to the Dart in my eyes was its exterior styling.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “if the 1.4 is such a good engine, then why did Fiasler feel the need to so drastically reduce its availability?”

            They didn’t, really. They’re just trying to make it more attractive to order a different engine. The fact that the 1.4 MA is quite expensive to produce could be one reason.

            The 2.4 will likely be better suited to most people’s driving style, but the 1.4 is hardly a bad engine.

          • 0 avatar
            bobman

            Hey SayMyName
            Most reviews I’ve read have been quite favorable. The available power trains have been the only thing that seems to be common amongst critics as a negative trait of the car. With the introduction of the 2.4 Multiair 2 engine, that issue seems to have been resolved also.

            On your suggestion, I checked out Edmund’s long term review. The user ratings of the car were at four and a half stars. Seemed pretty good to me.

            Since you really want to like the car, I would say you would be okay to do so. It’s a good car. Chrysler and Fiat are a good combo. They’re going places and deserve to be together like bacon and eggs…..wine and cheese….fish and chips…..pasta and fagioli.

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            bobman, peruse through the actual Edmunds commentary. Their long-term Dart has suffered from a number of ridiculous quality gaffes, including a cracked windshield that appears to be attributable to body flex.

          • 0 avatar
            bobman

            @SayMyName
            I did read through the review on Edmund’s. However, I would put more credence with the user reviews and, as I mentioned, a four and a half star rating is good in anyones books.

            Just to add, and I’m sure your aware of, The Dart, and the 1.4 Multiair were compliance deliverables to meet the federal government requirements for obtaining two of the 5% ownership share lots of Chrysler. Given what Chrysler was left to work with (left by Daimler and Cerbeus) I think this was a good compromise. Sergio said, back in February, this will be fixed. The introduction of the 2.4 Multiair, and possibly, the addition of the 9 speed later on, are steps towards fixing the Dart.

            I think the Jeep Cherokee and the upcoming 200 are much better indicators of where they’re headed as a single entity.

            Anyway, enough said on this thread for me. Believe whatever you like.

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            bobman, in response to your blind faith in owner reviews, I posit the following:

            A) New car owners are notoriously unreliable when it comes to identifying faults in their purchase. A combination of pride and delusion that they have made a wise choice has a way of interfering with objectivity.

            B) I strongly suspect these urges are even stronger among Fiasler’s core customer base of get-me-dones and low-credit, low-information buyers. Put another way: if you’ve been hoodwinked into signing a 72-month note at 22% APR on a Dart, you’re going to do all you can to convince yourself and others that it’s a good product. Even when it clearly is not…

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        36 hwy mpg for what is really a midsize car without turbos or CVT is pretty good.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The Dart is not a midsized car. Once you sit in and drive all the midsized cars, this becomes apparent. The Cruze is more of a midsized car than the Dart.

        • 0 avatar
          SayMyName

          Yet 40 is so much better, and can be found in many other cars that are superior to the Dart. Not by coincidence, those cars are also killing the lowly Dart in sales.

          Try to spin this all you like, bill. The fact remains that the Dart has a jumbled mess of powertrain options, and the market knows it. As a result, Fiasler has been forced to address that fiasco with making the largest, most powerful, and thirstiest engine standard for 75% of the lineup. That same engine, mind you, was originally supposed to be a $1500 or so upgrade option.

          That reeks of desperation, not quality engineering or adept product planning.

          • 0 avatar
            billfrombuckhead

            The 2.4L in the STX and Limited gets the same gas mileage as the 2.0L. You just won’t acknowledge the truth. Chevy and Ford also offer high gas mileage versions.

            The interior size of the Dart is midsize, the car has a lot of content and is very quiet, so there are reasons for the weight.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            When did they start putting 2.4 in the STX and the LTD? and where did you find figures to back-up your claim that the 2.0 gets the same mpg as the 2.4? You need to contact the guys at Dodge right away because their site has totally different data then you.

            Talk about credibility…

            1.4=28 city/41 hwy
            2.0=25 city/36 hwy
            2.4=23 city/33 hwy

  • avatar
    ringomon

    I don’t see the design of this being very polarizing except to people that are already Jeep devotees- which probably isn’t who they’re trying to attract as buyers anyways.

    I’ve been seeing one in the flesh daily the past couple weeks (in the parking lot of the global supplier I work at). I’m a little surprised by the strong reactions to the design.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I quite like some of Chrysler’s products but their lack of attention to quality is a deal breaker for me. Sloppy stitching, a dimwitted gearbox and cheap interior materials maybe OK in a $16K economy car but not in a $37K SUV.

    • 0 avatar
      SayMyName

      You’re obviously new to Fiasler. Their $16K economy car also comes with one of three lousy engines, ejectable parts and trim and a grenading transmission.

      By comparison, for the extra $21K, the Cherokee at least appears to have a decent V6.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “ejectable parts and trim”

        Ejectable? What, did Q help design the interior?

        • 0 avatar
          SayMyName

          I originally wrote “jettisonable,” LOL. Regardless, parts simply don’t stay attached to the car. Check out Edmunds’ lamentable history with its long-term Dart 1.4L.

          I truly want to like these vehicles. I applaud Fiat’s buyout of the company instead of GM’s reliance solely upon government money to survive. Unfortunately, the worst qualities of both companies appear to be manifesting in Fiasler’s new products.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            One notices a difference between the products Chrysler developed prior to Fiat and those developed after the fact.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    Not of great importance, but why would the Chrysler reps bring to the outing vehicles whose interiors had wobbling bins, bad stitching, faded gauge needles, and so on?

    • 0 avatar

      I am equally curious.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        It could be due to how ‘early’ these pre production units were produced. I know a lot of these robustness and supplier quality issues get hashed out 6 months prior to launch.

        It would be kind of cool if OEM’s submitted corrective action plans to their prospective customers or the press.

        It’s not difficult to retrofit preproduction cars with Job 1 intent parts (i.e. what is representative of retail sale) if the parts are available. In this instance, they should be available…

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I think it shows a general lack of focus, and concentration about what’s going on. Similar to Mr. Fiat in charge, always changing product direction.

    • 0 avatar
      shelvis

      Because they aren’t really issues……..

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        They are if people perceive them to be. Frankly, I would be embarrassed to let the press see details like that. They will set the tone for all to parrot about these vehicles going forward. It won’t matter if the production ones aren’t like that, people’s minds will already be made up.

  • avatar
    probert

    Your mention of the escape in a positive light baffles me. The past few years I’ve gone on driving camping trips in the southwest and northwest i take all backroads that vary from fast twisty mountain roads, slow crawling dirt roads up cliff sides and straight desert runs. Usually i cover about 4-5000 miles.

    My three rentals were:

    Nissan Versa hatch: surprisingly adequate – a willing if not enthusiastic companion – kind of a Rambler for the 21st century – small roomy and does the job. Mediocre but I came to trust and really like it. I rented it because the guy in Heroes kept asking for one – I don’t regret it though basing choices on TV shows is generally suspect.

    Kia sportage: Quick agile and stable. Through rocky mountain storms and long desert hauls it was a pleasure. Also surprisingly good offroad with hillhold and a locking differential. A wonderful wonderful car as long as you’re not backing up. I think it’s beautiful to boot – the real deal.

    Ford Escape eco: Tip in so bad I had to resort to using the cruise control to modulate the throttle. Moaned like a cow giving birth at anything above 3k rpm, a flexible frame and elecronics that turned on and off at random intervals.

    Like a frankenstein monster looking for love it seemed to be asking “Why am i alive?” – i sort of pitied it but after 5000miles I was asking the same of myself. Handsome and horrible.

    One man’s opinion.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “The downsized 3.2L V6 Pentastar engine is just as good as its 3.6L big brother, but its shine is tarnished by the much-touted 9-speed transmission.”

    This is typical Detroit, develop a winning drivetrain and then spend more money building a smaller or decontented version for the next lesser model. Why not just use the same drive-train for both/all models as a rule?

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    Some strange glitch in the matrix happened as I walked outside for lunch today… Right there in front of me at the stoplight was one of these, with a fair amount of instrumentation in the cabin and Michigan manufacturer plates.

    The accumulated dirt and grime of the 500+ mile drive from Detroit made it seem, well, plain. Sorry guys, but this Cherokee just isn’t all that “out there” in person. It will sell just fine for Chrysler. There’s no scandal after all.

  • avatar
    afflo

    Bantaam
    Willys-Overland
    Kaiser
    AMC
    Renault
    Chrysler
    Daimler
    Cerberus

    Jeep is the common thread – If you buy out a company or inherit Jeep, you go under unless you sell.

    Whither Fiat?

    OK, more seriously, this looks interesting, but Cherokee? Really? I learned to drive in an XJ. Stripper Sport 4×2 2-door model, less than 3000 lbs, about the same footprint as a Nissan Versa, and that glorious, grunty 190 hp AMC six. It was my parents’ second XJ, questionable in build quality, lacking in creature comforts except for A/C. The steering was awful, handling was awful, ride quality was awful, but that car is so ingrained in my childhood that no matter how capable this is, it hurts to see the name “Cherokee” applied to a CUV, the automotive equivalent of Tampax with Wings.

    Are you watching, Ford? Time to rename the “Escape” “Bronco III.” While we’re at it, GM can call the Equinox “K-5 Blazer”

    One of the sacred rules* of automotopia is that a vehicle has may not wear the “Jeep” label if there is no manual transmission offered. Or 2 door. And really there should be a removable roof option. I bet the top lady-friendly featuers are offered though: Lighted makeup mirrors, heated seats, rear-view camera, maybe even a cute little VW New Beetle flower vase and purse-hook.

    * Rule may be waived for vehicles covered in wood paneling.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, you asked the question and you, even though you didn’t notice it, answered it yourself. In order to avoid the same fate as the others mentioned, Fiat is doing what it must.

      The Jeep you mentioned is fine. I like it. However, it’s hardly relevant in today’s world. That why FiatChrysler is doing what they’re doing.

      • 0 avatar
        azmtbkr81

        I’m not sure whose watch the Compass and Patriot were introduced under but by all accounts both were and continue to be flops; I really don’t see how the Cherokee is different enough from either to avoid a similar fate. Jeep’s current two best sellers were designed from the ground up as off-road capable SUVs, why mess with success?

        • 0 avatar

          Design, it’s all in the design. The Compass and Patriot are all too square. Doesn’t go very well. Too macho probably for a segment the ladies have great sway over. This Cherokee fits in with the times much better.

          And as to the question, I think Fiat decided those two successful products you speak of were not enough. They’re trying to cash in on Jeep’s earning potential. Something no one seems to have cracked. I think they stand a fighting chance. Hardcore Wrangler people will not be scared off by the Cherokee, while the Cherokee is a good bet on bringing in new customers.

          My 2 cents.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Heated seats aren’t just a “lady” thing, friend.

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    I am a car guy, in fact a sports car guy, if it doesn’t have a stick and a sports suspension I don’t want it. That being said I am now driving a MB C250 because my wife is SUV/CUV girl. She has had a 4Runner, a Freestyle and now an Escape. She likes to sit high where she can see and be seen. I leased the C-Class for her while I was selling Benzes and she loved the way it drove but after 15 years without an accident she was hit twice (neither her fault) in a 45 day period. She thinks its because nobody saw her small white car. She now drives her black Escape and loves it. I am anxiously waiting for the end of my lease so I can get an Audi S5 as I now sell Audi.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    A few thoughts:

    1. They were pre-production cars, I would expect a few rough edges. Hopefully sorted out by actual production, and I would never, ever, ever buy the first year of ANY new car from any maker anyway. I’m not into paying to be a beta tester.
    2. I like the looks. It’s no worse than a Rogue, and miles better than a Juke or a RAV4. Seems fairly color sensitive to me.
    3. Why all the hemming and hawing over the $37K price of THE MOST EXPENSIVE variant. It’s like looking at the price of a Raptor and saying all F150s are ridiculously priced. The typical suburban housewife version will be MUCH, MUCH cheaper. And why not a Tahoe – maybe I just don’t want something that big. I’ll say my usual refrain again – not everyone buys cars by the pound!
    4. For that $37K, you get a smaller reasonably efficient vehicle with seemingly genuine off-road ability. If you don’t care about that, get one of the cheaper ones!

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Ok, so after reading the article this morning, I went out and drove a few of these this afternoon, paying special attention to the areas Derek mentioned.

    The stitching on the leather wheel was better and more even than in the pic, but still not as tight a gap in the material that I’ve seen on some other vehicles.

    The leather stitched lid on the center console of the Limited model felt quite solid to me, even when wiggled side to side.

    The cargo area is small compared to some other CUVs, but passenger space is comfy front or rear.

    The 3.2L is pretty peppy, the 2.4L is kinda slow. The transmission didn’t really jump out at me as having any glaring faults, I didn’t drive it for too long though. It shifts through the gears fast under WOT.

    Manual mode shifting is useless.

    I thought it handled hard maneuvers on pavement well, it is more stiffly sprung than the usual suspects.

    The Trail Hawk looks good.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I was not able to find much info but approach, breakover and departure angels are better than a Toyota Rav4…
    Approach angle 38°
    Breakover angle 24 °
    Departure angle 32°

    From http://www.allpar.com/SUVs/jeep/2014-cherokee.html
    Again… not sure how accurate this info is.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The new Cherokee reminds me of a larger Subaru Legacy Outback or a replacement for the ill-fated B-9 Tribeca. Belt line like a Mazda CX-7 or 9.

    For years going back to the 80’s 90’s there were rumors about Jeep building a smaller entry level version of the Wrangler to compete with the Suzuki Sidekick/Geo Tracker or 1st gen RAV 4. With Fiat in charge this could still be possible by using the Panda platform.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    For 37k (the price of one of these loaded turds) you can get a Trail Edition 4Runner which will stomp that ugly Italian monstrosity into the ground in terms of build quality, off road capability, styling, horsepower, and size.

    The only real Jeep left is the Wrangler.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      To be fair, you could get a pretty nice Jeep Grand Cherokee for $37K.

      I don’t think too many people will be buying these to go offroad. I also doubt they’ll sell too many at #37K. I do agree though, that midsized CUVs/SUVs are basically the same price with not a significant MPG penalty. You can say that about the Escape, Rav-4, and CR-V as well. However, they all move almost as many units as the midsized sedans.

      • 0 avatar
        slance66

        The Grand Cherokee feels very large and truck-like behind the wheel. It’s nice inside, handsome outside and nicely put together, but ponderous on the road.

        I think the CUV drivers buying CR-Vs and Escapes by the boatload want: (a) a mid-size car interior volume and feel, (b) midsize car driving characteristics and dimensions for parking and maneuverability,(c) a higher ride height and more ground clearance (d) AWD and (e) hatchback convenience and cargo capability.

        I’m always shocked by so many of you TTAC folks that don’t get this, the Tahoe and other full size SUVs are not even on the radar of these folks. These cars compete with Camrys, Accords etc. and at the low end of the price range, with the Civic, Focus, Cruze etc. That’s why GM’s fairly truck-like offerings don’t do as well. These things are small station wagons, nothing more.

        The real killer to this Cherokee at $37k is that I can get an RDX for that price. But they will sell.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Chrysler is always cheaper in the real world pricing then the Japanese..come on now.. MSRP is what Chrysler wishes they would get for one of these.

    Anyway this will sell well. It’s women who buy these things – not men – and I think women will really like the looks. Sorry but the CRV and RAV4 are already pretty ugly in my book. This is just more of the same – if anything I rate this better then those two.

    The women will buy the model with the 2.4 liter engine – and they will buy them for a lot less then 37k..book it.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Wow, Jeep somehow managed to make a vehicle that is even more ugly than the new Toyota 4Runner. What ever happened to basic boxy “truck” styling? Does everything have to look swoopy or like a cartoon robot these days? Seriously?

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Derek,

    You mentioned, “It makes one wonder why body-on-frame SUVs need to exist if a crossover, let alone a more rugged unibody SUV, can handle off-road driving so well.”

    Large SUV’s, like large pick-up trucks, benefit from BOF construction by virtue of:
    1) Degree of articulation afforded by a beam axle that requires BOF attachments;
    2) Undercarriage solidity for skid plates and other protective hardware;
    3) Towing capacity;
    4) Payload Maximum.

    There is also the issue of endurance and repeatability. Just because the Cherokee was able to run a tough trail gamut once, doesn’t mean it can do so successfully the 100th time without deformation; or do so 10 years later. And this isn’t even considering rust-out of unibody joins that must endure all the flexing.

    ——————

  • avatar
    etrnlrvr

    It would be hard to take worse pictures than the ones used for this post.

    Also this… “Any reservations about the new Cherokee dishonoring the vaunted XJ Cherokee of years past, as well as the Jeep brand, can be put to bed.” Really? A bobble down a PR dirt course did that for you? That statement reeks of little credibility.

    I get that the general public could care less and I get this is more off road capable than the other CUVs but I find the quoted statement laughable. Even if I’m wrong overall in the long run a little spin on a test track isn’t nearly enough data to put to bed the “dishonoring of the XJ Cherokee name” IMHO.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    So this car is terrible on the road where 99% of them will spend 99% of their time, and is excellent off road where 1% of them will spend 1% of their time.

    Wrong airplane at the wrong airport.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Any crash test reports? Go check out the Compass offset crashes and watch that front wheel move into the footwell area. If this one is similar, no buy at any price.

  • avatar
    AJ

    The side and rear are okay looking, but that front is so bloody ugly. You would think that after the original Compass, that they fired those designers. Must have hired their Italian cousins?

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    “So this car is terrible on the road where 99% of them will spend 99% of their time, and is excellent off road where 1% of them will spend 1% of their time.”

    Terrible? Much of the press is giving this vehicle excellent reviews. C and D seemed to like it. We have to wait for a comparison review but you are putting way to much faith in the blog. The writers here don’t even agree – with one guy thinking the upmarket version of the Ford Fusion is terrible (MKS?) and another writer who really liked the Fusion.

    Almost all crossovers are terrible on the road – outside of the Cayenne in my experience. Though I think perhaps the Jeep SRT8 and X5M are okay as well – but I haven’t driven those.

  • avatar
    jepstr67

    I will be glad when this nightmare of styling ends. Wrangler, Commander Patriot, Liberty(second generation) are all intelligent and inspired modern Jeep designs. You can not continue to put what looks like a potato on wheels and call it a Jeep. As a person who owned and loved a a real FSJ Wagoneer based Cherokee, these new Jeep Cherokees, both big and small just make me sick.


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