By on February 20, 2014

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-002

The folks at Jeep have known for some time that high volume on-road models have to be part of the mix to keep low volume off-road models viable. From the 1946 Willys Station Wagon and the original Wagoneer, to the Grand Cherokee and the Compass, Jeep has been on a steady march towards the word no Wrangler owner wants to hear: “crossover”. Their plan is to replace the off-road capable Liberty and compete with the RAV4, CR-V and 20 other small crossovers with one vehicle: the 2014 Cherokee.

With two ambitious (and contradictory) missions and unconventional looks, the Cherokee has turned into one of the most polarizing cars in recent memory. It is therefore no surprise the Cherokee has been getting mixed reviews. USA Today called it “unstoppable fun” while Consumer Reports called it “half baked” with a “choppy ride and clumsy handling.” Our own Derek Kreindler came away disappointed with its on-road performance at the launch event, though he had praise for the Cherokee’s off-road capabilities. What should we make of the glowing reviews, and the equally loud dissenting voices?

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Exterior

I’ve always said styling is a personal preference and although the Cherokee is far from my cup of tea, I’m glad Chrysler decided to color outside the lines. The “bent” 7-slot grill still strikes me as peculiar, but what made me scratch my head more is the lighting. You’ll find the headlamps in the middle of the bumper cover behind a smoked plastic lens, while the daytime running lamps and turn signals live in a separate module high up on the front, Meanwhile, the fog lamps are nestled at the bottom of the bumper. Out back the Cherokee is far more mainstream with a fairly plain (and very vertical) rear hatch. Overall the looks are certainly striking and unmistakable, I’m just not sure if that’s a good thing.

The Cherokee is “kinda-sorta” based on the Dodge Dart which itself is more-or-less a stretched and widened Alfa Romeo Giulietta. While some Jeep fans call any car-based Jeep heresy, the Cherokee isn’t the first car/SUV hybrid at Jeep and it won’t be the last. The side profile, specifically the front overhang, is where the Cherokee’s dual mission starts to show. A transverse mounted engine creates a long overhang compared to a traditional RWD SUV. This isn’t a problem in the Patriot, which has much lower aspirations, but does pose a problem for “the off-road crowd.” To compensate, the Cherokee rides higher than the competition (7.8 to 8.8 inches) and uses two different bumper designs. Sport, Latitude and Limited trims get a more traditional (if you can call it that) bumper design with a fairly flat front while Trailhawk models pull the bottom of the bumper up to allow a 50% better approach angle and causing a “wedge-like” front profile. Out back similar changes to the rear bumper improve the Trailhawk’s departure angle.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior-004

Interior

While the Grand Cherokee continues it’s mission as the “American Range Rover,” anyone looking for the Cherokee to be the “American Evoque” is going to be disappointed. Even so, I found the the interior to be class leading in many ways, with more soft touch plastics than you’ll find in the competition. Chrysler fitted the Grand Cherokee’s chunky steering wheel to the smaller Jeep which gives the cabin a more premium feel. Most Cherokees on dealer lots will have a leather wrapped wheel, but base models get a urethane tiller. The Cherokee retains the optional steering wheel heater from the Grand Cherokee, but ditches the paddle shifters.

The wide front seats are deeply padded, supportive and easily the best in the segment in terms of comfort. Thankfully, the engineers ditched the “dome-shaped” bottom cushion found in other Chrysler products allowing you to sit “in” the seats, not “on” the seats. Most models get a fold-flat front passenger seat improving cargo versatility, but that option is incompatible with the optional “ventilated front seats and multi-way with four-way power lumbar support” package for the front passenger.

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Although not as comfortable as the front, the second row is easily the most comfortable in the segment. Seat cushions are thickly padded, recline, and slide fore/aft to adjust the cargo area dimensions. (Or get a child seat closer.) The Cherokee offers two inches more rear legroom than CR-V, three more than RAV4 and nearly four inches more than Escape. The seat bottom cushions also ride higher off the ground so adults won’t feel like they have their knees in their chest.

Because of the need for off-road-capable departure angles and ground clearance, a compromise had to be made and I found it behind the [optional] power tailgate. The Cherokee suffers from the smallest cargo hold among its target cross-shops by a wide margin at 24.8 cubic feet. The next smallest entry (the CX-5) will hold over 40% more behind the second row (34 cubes) while the Rogue’s generous booty will swallow 40 cubic feet of whatever. Note: The Cherokee’s spec sheet lists cargo capacity at 29.7 cubic feet but that measurement is taken with the 2nd row adjusted all the way forward in its tracks which cuts rear legroom down to well below the competition.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior uConnect 8.4

Infotainment

Depending on trim level, you’ll find two different systems in the dash. Things start out with uConnect 5.0 in the Sport and Latitude. Running on a Microsoft OS (like Ford SYNC), this unit is more sluggish than the UNIX-based 8-inch system but offers many of the same features excluding navigation. While other Chrysler/Fiat models with uConnect 5.0 have the option to add TomTom navigation at a later date, that doesn’t seem to apply here. The touchscreen features full USB/iPod integration, optional XM satellite radio and a Bluetooth speakerphone in addition to acting as the climate control display and seat heater controls. Sound thumps out via 6-standard speakers, and you can pay $200 for an optional CD player if you haven’t joined the 2st century.

Optional on Latitude and standard on Limited/Trailhawk is the 8-inch QNX UNIX based “uConnect 8.4.” The system features polished graphics, snappy screen changes and a large, bright display. All the features you expect from a connected car are standard, from voice commands for USB/iDevice control to smartphone integration allowing you to stream audio from Pandora, iHeart or Slacker. You can have text messages read to you, dictate replies and search for restaurants or businesses via Yelp. In addition to the smartphone-tied features, it integrates a CDMA modem on the Sprint network for over-the-air software updates and access to the new “App Store.” Since there’s a cell modem on-board, uConnect can be configured to act as a WiFi hot spot for your tablets and game devices. Completing the information assault is SiriusXM’s assortment of satellite data services from traffic updates to fuel prices. 2014 also brings uConnect Access which is Chrysler’s answer to GM’s OnStar providing 911 assistance, crash notification and vehicle health reports.

For an extra $795 you can add Garmin’s navigation software to the system and Chrysler tells us that the nav software can be added after purchase. Our tester had the $395 optional 9-speaker sound system with a subwoofer. Sound quality ranged from average with the standard 6-speaker setup to excellent with the optional speakers. Unfortunately, the up-level speaker package requires you have navigation as well, bringing the price bump to $1190 if you were only after the louder beats.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 3.2L V6 Engine-002

Drivetrain

All trims start with Chrysler’s 2.4L “Tigershark” four-cylinder engine delivering 184 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of twist. Optional on all but the Sport is a new 3.2L V6 good for 271 horses and 239 lb-ft. Sadly we won’t get the 2.0L Fiat diesel on our shores, but if you’re lucky enough to be able to burn oil in your country, that engine delivers 170 ponies and 258 lb-ft of twist. Power is sent to the ground via a controversial 9-speed automatic designed by ZF and built by Chrysler. The 9-speed is very similar to the one used in the Range Rover Evoque although few parts are directly interchangeable.

While most crossovers offer a single AWD system Jeep gives you three options. First up we have a traditional slip-and-grip AWD system with a multi-plate clutch pack (Active Drive) that sends power to the rear when required. Jeep combined this with a “rear axle disconnect” feature to improve fuel economy. This is the system you’ll find on most of the Sport, Latitude and Limited Cherokees on dealer lots.

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Available on Latitude and Limited is Active Drive II which adds a segment-exclusive rock crawl ratio. Because of the way transverse transaxles work, this system operates differently than a longitudinal (RWD) system in that there are actually two two-speed transfer cases. Power exits the transmission and enters a “PTU” where power is split front and rear. Up front, power flows from the PTU to a 2-speed planetary gearset and then back into the transmission’s case to the front differential. For the back wheels, power flows from the multi-plate clutch pack and rear axle disconnect clutch inside the PTU to an angle gear unit which rotates power 90-degrees and connects to the prop shaft. The prop shaft connects to another 2-speed planetary gearset and then finally to the rear axle.

Engaging 4-Low causes the PTU to engage the rear axle and engage the primary low ratio gearset.  At the same time, the low ratio gearset in the rear axle unit engages. Vehicle electronics confirm that the system has engaged both units before you can move forward. Should you need the ultimate in off-road ability, the Trailhawk throws in a locking rear differential (this is the third system, called Active Drive Lock), hill ascent/descent control and various stability control programs for off-road terrain. Before you ask “is this a real low-ratio?” 4-Low is 56:1 with the 2.4L engine and 47.8:1 with the 3.2L. That 56:1 ratio is lower than anything Jeep has sold, save the Wrangler Rubicon’s insane 73:1.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-004Modifications

Being the owner of a Jeep with a minor four-inch lift kit installed, after-market options are near and dear. Of course RAV4/CR-V/Escape shoppers aren’t your typical lift-kit demographic, so for many of you, this section isn’t germane. Because of the Cherokee’s design, ride height modifications are not going to be as easy as with solid-axle Jeeps of yore. With longitudinal engine mounting and solid axles, lifting is an easy task up to around four-inches, at which point you may need to start thinking about new driveshafts and possible U-joint replacements. With a design like the Cherokee’s, anything beyond an inch or two can result in serious suspension geometry changes that have a huge impact on handling and tire wear. While it would be possible to design kits with four new half-shafts, springs and suspension bits that would lift and correct the geometry change, I suspect the costs would be prohibitive, so don’t expect much more than a 2-3 inch spring-spacer kit for base models and 1-2 inches for the Trailhawk.

Pricing

Most shoppers will be deciding between the Sport, Latitude and Limited trims starting at $22,295, $24,495 and $27,995 respectively for FWD models. Adding AWD increases the price tag by $2,000 and on Latitude and Limited and you can get the low ratio gearbox with a 1-inch suspension bump for an additional $995. The Sport model comes well equipped compared to the competition with that 5-inch infotainment system, auto-down windows and most creature comforts you expect except for air conditioning. You’ll find A/C in the oddly named $795 “cold weather group” which also includes heated mirrors, a leather steering wheel, remote start, heated front seats and a windshield wiper de-icer. At the base level the Sport is roughly the same price as the Toyota and Honda but adding the $795 package pushes the price comparison in the Jeep’s favor by more than $1,000.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior-008

Latitude adds a standard 115V outlet, leather wrapped steering wheel, auto up/down windows, fold flat front seat, ambient lighting, A/C, steering wheel audio controls and fog lamps in addition to allowing access to the more robust AWD system, V6 engine and navigation. Limited tosses in power front seats, the 7-inch LCD instrument cluster (seen above), an auto dimming mirror, heated steering wheel, soft touch plastics on the doors, automatic headlamps, one year of XM radio, turn signals on the side mirrors and the ability to option your Cherokee up to $40,890 by adding self-parking, cooled seats, HID headlamps and more options than I care to list.

Then there is the Trailhawk. As the only CUV with a 2-speed transfer case, locking differential, tow hooks, off-road oriented software programming and all-terrain rubber, this Cherokee is in a class by itself. It’s also priced in a class by itself. Starting at $29,495 and ending at $40,890, the Trailhawk has a similar MSRP spread as the Limited but it trades the optional luxury items for off-road hardware.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-014

Drive

Chrysler decided to make the Cherokee the first recipient of their new technology onslaught. If you’re willing to pay, you can option your Jeep up with a full-speed range radar cruise control, collision warning and collision prevention with automatic braking, cooled seats, lane departure warning and prevention and rear cross path collision detection. The Cherokee is also Chrysler’s first self-parking car, and like the new Mercedes S-Class, the Jeep will back itself into perpendicular spots in addition to parallel parking. The tech worked well and is as easy to use as Ford’s system, although I’m not sure I want to live in a world where folks can’t perpendicular park. (You know, in regular old parking spaces.) If you opt for the ultrasonic parking sensors, the Cherokee will also apply the brakes before you back into that shopping cart you didn’t see.

Most reviewers are so caught up in the way the 9-speed automatic shifts. The truth is, hybrids, dual clutch transmissions, robotized manuals, CVTs and automatics with new technologies are only going to become more common and it’s time we in the auto press adjusted. If you want to know more about why the 9-speed does what it does, check our our deep dive on dog clutches. All I’m going to say here is that I got used to the way the transmission shifts and it never really bothered me.

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At 4,100lbs the Cherokee is 600lbs heavier than a comparable RAV4 or CX-5. The extra weight is caused by the structural reinforcements required for off roading. Unfortunately it causes some on-road compromises. Acceleration with the 2.4L engine is adequate but sluggish compared to the lighter competition. The V6 on the other hand hits 60 MPH in 6.5 seconds which ties with the 2.0L Ecoboost Escape as the fastest in the class. Regardless of the engine you choose, the Cherokee has one of the quietest cabins in the segment thanks to extensive sound deadening. All the foam comes in handy on 2.4L models as the small engine spends more time in lower gears thanks to the Cherokee’s heft.

Once on the highway the 9-speed automatic helped the porky crossover average a respectable 23.7 MPG, just 1.3 MPG behind the much slower RAV4. The economy is all down to the rear axle disconnect feature and the 9-speed transmission. By completely disconnecting the rear axle via a clutch, parasitic losses drop to nearly zero when compared to other small crossovers. The downside to this is that when the system is in “Auto” power is sent 100% to the front axle until there is slip at which point the Cherokee must re-connect the rear axle then engage a secondary multi-plate clutch to move power. This system allows greater economy but is much slower to react and adds some weight to the mix. To compensate, the Cherokee allows you to fully lock the center coupling and engage the rear axle at any speed by engaging various drive modes. Thanks to an extremely tall 9th gear, the V6 spins at a lazy 1,500 RPM at 82 MPH allowing a reported 25 MPG on level ground.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Wheel

The heavy and substantial feel on winding roads and reminded me more of the Grand Cherokee than your average CUV. Soft springs and well-tuned dampers delivered a supple ride on a variety of surfaces and the Cherokee never felt unsettled. However, those same suspension choices allow plenty of body roll in the corners, tip when accelerating and dive when braking. As with most entries, the Cherokee uses electric power steering so there is precious little feel behind the wheel. When pushed near its limits, the Cherokee delivers reasonable grip thanks to wide tires and a 57/43 (F/R) weight balance which is essentially the same as the CX-5. If this sounds like the on-road description of a body-on-frame SUV from 10 years ago, you’re not far off base. But is that a bad thing? Not in my book. Why? It’s all about the other half of the Cherokee’s mission.

With more ground clearance, a rated water fording depth of 20 inches, 4,500lbs of towing capacity and a more robust AWD system, the Cherokee can follow the Grand Cherokee down any trail without fear. Of course both Jeeps should be careful not to follow a Wrangler, as neither is as off-road capable as they used to be, but the gist is that both are far more capable than the average crossover. Jeep’s traction and stability control systems are different than what you find in the on-road oriented competition in that the software’s objective is to move power from wheel to wheel rather than just limit wheel spin. Competitive systems reduce engine power first, then selectively brake wheels. The Jeep system in “Mud” mode is more interested with keeping the wheels all spinning the same than curbing engine power. The Cherokee also allows the center coupling to be locked at higher speeds than the competition, offering a 20-inch rated water fording depth, 7.9 to 8.8 inches of ground clearance and available skid plates. While the Cherokee will never be as much fun off-road as a 4Runner, Wrangler, or other serious off-road options, you can have a hoot and a half at the off-road park in stock Trailhawk trim.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-015

If a crossover is supposed to be a cross between a family sedan and an SUV, the Cherokee is the truest small crossover you can buy. Trouble is, most shoppers are really just looking for the modern station wagon: something with a big cargo hold and car-like manners. In this area the Cherokee comes up short. It’s big and heavy and it drives like it’s big and heavy. But it’s not without its charms, the Cherokee is the only compact crossover capable of the school run and the Rubicon trail. It’s also the quietest and most comfortable crossover going, even if it is short on trunk space. If you’re willing to pay, it’s also the one loaded with the most gadgets, goodies and luxury amenities.

Is the Cherokee half-baked like Consumer Reports said? Perhaps. The Cherokee’s off-roading mission results in limited cargo space and vague handling while the on-road mission demanded a FWD chassis with high fuel economy. But it faithfully manages to give 99% of Liberty shoppers and 80% of RAV4 shoppers a viable alternative. Is that half-baked or a successful compromise? If you’re after a soft-roader to get you from point A to point B with stellar fuel economy, great handling and a massive cargo area, there are better options than the Cherokee. If however you “need” a crossover but “want” a go-anywhere SUVlet, this is your only option.

Chrysler provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.15 Seconds

0-60: 6.5 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.75 Seconds

Average observed fuel economy: 23.7 MPG over 453 miles

Cabin noise at 50 MPH: 67 dB

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114 Comments on “Review: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 4×4 (With Video)...”


  • avatar
    CKrome

    You really got from 0-60 in 6.5 seconds in that?

  • avatar

    EXCELLENT REVIEW ALEX DYKES. I will share your video with some friends who were interested in a new crossover with AWD. I personally think the face of the vehicle looks like a Native American mask. It works – especially compared to the new Hyundai/Kia’s.

    When I first saw the Cherokee I thought it was ugly, Subaru-ish, and ridiculous, but when I saw it in person and drove one, all doubt was erased.

    The AWD V6 powertrain is not only well-priced, but works great. All that conjecture about the 9-speed transmission seems to have completely flown over buyer’s heads because I’m literally seeing these trucks everywhere in NYC. I’m 100% certain I’ll see them even more since this year’s brutal repeated snow storms have made the average FWD-econobox driver in my area desire an “AWD”. Many, not even knowing the difference between AWD and 4-Wheel Drive.

    I’m so glad Chrysler has a modular component system. Uconnect is the best infotainment on the market – including the German $100,000 cars, Chrysler’s AWD system is fantastic, their transmissions are fantastic and their Pentastar V6 is strong enough to replace the old 2.7-L and 3.5-L while still getting decent mileage.

    I was amazed how much the Cherokee looked like my JGCSRT inside. Felt upscale enough to be entry-luxurious.

    My only complaint would be the Dodge-Dart-ish seats.
    I’d also like Chrysler to get brighter interiors like those available in the Hyundai products.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I’m not a buyer in the segment, so my opinion means little, but the Cherokee looks better in person than it does in any picture or video I’ve seen of it. I noticed this phenomenon when I saw a line of them in front of the local Jeep dealer and now that I’ seeing them on the road, it is IMO more cohesive than the Nissan Juke.

    • 0 avatar
      DeeDub

      I saw my first one in a Best Buy parking lot last week. I was surprised that, other than the goofy headlights and grill slits, it looks exactly as boring and vanilla as any other CUV. Put your thumb up to cover the nose and you wouldn’t be able to pick it out of a school car-rider lineup.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I’ve seen a couple in person, and they do look better. But that’s like saying the local axe-murder rapist is not as evil as Hitler.

      It’s still butt f’ugly.

    • 0 avatar

      The sleek yet aggressive front looks good, much better than the complaints warrant. The problem is the disconnect with the bland character lines along the sides, which look like every other CUV. There doesn’t seem to be a coherent theme while developing the looks.

  • avatar
    bachewy

    I bet the Subaru crowd would have some input.

    • 0 avatar
      Brawndo

      Yeah, I’m not really sure why Alex chose to compare this thing to every CUV EXCEPT the Forester, which would have been the most apt comparison. I’m sure people in the market for an all-weather grocery-getter, especially Coloradans and North Easterners, would cross shop the Cherokee against the only other CUV with any kind of off-road chops.

      I haven’t driven this Cherokee, but did sit in the Trailhawk at the auto show recently. The leather was rubbery and clammy and the dashboard was the kind that generates lots of static cling, such that all sorts of particles and hair were stuck to it. In a car that must surely get wiped down daily, if not hourly, this is sort of unacceptable-what if you have a dog?

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        Maybe because the Forrestor can’t really go off road all that well.

        • 0 avatar
          rdchappell

          It’s second only to this Cherokee, so it’s the closest comparison.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Much better than any of the Haldex-equipped competition. Full-time 60/40 or 50/50 AWD (depending on transmission) and 8″ of ground clearance.

        • 0 avatar
          Tim_Turbo

          Actually the Forester has 8.7″ of ground clearance. And the Limited gets “X-Mode” which may not be quite as comprehensive as the software on the Trailhawk, but it does work and also includes hill descent control. Obviously the approach angle will limit the Forester compared to the Cherokee. But on a muddy road? An unplowed unused snowy road? A woods trail? Both will be just fine. The other CUVS that are ALWAYS mentioned? Not so much. Rock crawling in Moab? I’ll take a Wrangler.

    • 0 avatar
      Windy

      It was nice to see the 1948 station wagon mentioned as well as the wagoneer.

      I have wondered why Jeep let Subaru get away with calling the outback the first 4×4 station wagon.
      Though you can quibble a bit about the 48 that was based on the CJ 2 A platform the wagoneer was a true station wagon and while the jeeps might not have been the first with the idea of a 4×4 station wagon ( there were custom woodies based on the early 4×4 designs of the 1920s but they were custom one off designs built for wealthy hunters for example) jeep did not have to claim to have been first to bring Subaru up short on its rather risible claim.

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      Few things here w/r/t/ Subaru:

      “The V6 on the other hand hits 60 MPH in 6.5 seconds which ties with the 2.0L Ecoboost Escape as the fastest in the class.”

      Except the Forester XT has been clocked at 6.2 by Motor Trend. Even accounting for differences leaving it out of a straight line comparison is kind of asinine. The thing is seriously quick, isn’t a two-ton porker like the Cherokee, has way more cargo room and costs way less when fully loaded (although Subaru’s stab at ‘infotainment’ is one of the worst systems on the market today). Reliability historically has been better than Jeep as a whole, although who knows with the new CVT in the Forester.

      As far as off-roading goes, the Forester is advertised as being able to handle light trails, inclement weather and mild inclines. If you take it over a boulder you’re going to have a bad time. The Cherokee (and by extension, Jeep) name is associated with rock climbing and serious off-roading, and the new FWD-based model will have a tough time living up to that with repeat buyers. The question is will they lose more buyers than they gain with its newly found on-road manners? I’m guessing Fiatler asked themselves this same question and decided it was a tradeoff worth making.

      • 0 avatar
        Alex L. Dykes

        Testing methodologies vary so you can’t compare our 0-60 times with another publication’s times as the tests are not performed on the same surface with the same testing equipment.

        I would just say two things about the Forester. First off, Chrysler was targeting the big three in the segment: Escape, CR-V and RAV4. The Forester is 6th in the segment and the review was already enormous so I didn’t want to try to draw comparisons to the Equinox, Rogue, Sorento, Terain, Santa Fe, Journey, XV Crosstrek, Forester, Captiva Sport, Tucson, Juke, Sportake, Outlander, Tiguan, Countryman, etc, etc, etc as we would have been here all day. Secondly, and most importantly, Subaru won’t loan us cars so I haven’t driven one.

        • 0 avatar
          djsyndrome

          Fully understand that 0-60 times are not comparable. There’s also corrections for atmospheric conditions, differences in drivers, etc. My point was simply that the Forester XT is a rocket ship.

          It is 6th in the segment, but that’s ignoring the fact that Subaru is selling every one they can make (why won’t they just move production to Indiana already?!) and sales are up over 60% YOY.

          As far as Subaru not loaning you a car, well, have you promised to return it in one piece? :)

          • 0 avatar
            Alex L. Dykes

            I have never returned a car dirty, with a tank empty or misused in any way. Subaru’s reasons are their own and the result of them is a lack of that brand’s coverage on TTAC. I have contacted Subaru on multiple occasions but emails and messages are never replied to. It is a shame.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Legacy of the flying vagina.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I wonder why……

            Hah..

          • 0 avatar

            I do have to say the new Foresters are everywhere here in New England. Funny thing several people have bought new cars at work with CVT’s (foresters and an Altima)They have all mentioned how much they love the smooth shifting of the CVT.s

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            That sucks about Subaru not loaning TTAC cars. I assume you have tried explaining that you have new editors and BS is gone?

          • 0 avatar
            BigWill

            bumpy was correct; BS wasn’t the problem, RF was and still is, even with RF long gone and the Tribeca going extinct.

        • 0 avatar
          Brawndo

          It’s a pity they’re still mad at you, because of all the CUVs you named, the Forester is clearly the best comparison. Fiat may say that they’re targeting CR-V buyers, but I really can’t imagine that the people that actually buy CR-Vs would prefer the Cherokee. The Cherokee’s drivetrain sounds particularly complex, with its two two-speed transfer cases and rear axle disconnect-maybe great for off-road with good on-road fuel economy, but not the kind of thing prized by people who want ultimate reliability. Do most CR-V buyers even bother to get AWD? (I have no idea btw). I think the Cherokee is going to be most appealing to free-spirits/outdoorsy-types/snowbelters-Subaru’s key demographic.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            For those concerned most about fuel economy or reliability of the AWD components, most Cherokee models are available in FWD only. I don’t know what the split of AWD/FWD CR-Vs are either, but the most basic system on the Cherokee isn’t really much more complicated than that of the CR-V.

          • 0 avatar
            AdamVIP

            The joy of the Cherokee is that it has everything. All the other CUVs pick and choose what options they offer but Jeep lets you get anything you want. The Cherokee offers more options than a Cadillac ATS.

          • 0 avatar
            Atum

            Try contacting your local dealer. They’ll probably give you one with a “San Francisco Subaru” body wrap, but it’s still an accurate review. :)

            Also, is there a car company that directs its cars towards the Deep South?

        • 0 avatar
          segfault

          Wow. If Subaru lets the bland reviewers at Cars.com have press vehicles, they should let TTAC have them as well.

  • avatar
    Variant

    So there is actually a brand new automobile for sale in the US in 2014 that doesn’t have air conditioning as standard equipment?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      There are many vehicles where you can still opt out of A/C, but you’d be hard pressed to find one. They make them theoretically available to advertice a leading price, but dealers certainly don’t order them for stock.

    • 0 avatar
      anti121hero

      I think even on most of the old xjs ac came standard. At least my 93 which is a base model has ac.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      This was my take away from the review too. A Jeep Cherokee that is FWD is crazy enough, but no A/C? I can’t even fathom that such a non-option is possible in today’s market.

      • 0 avatar
        MoparDave

        The Cherokee Sport does come standard with manual a/c, The A/C that comes with the Cold Weather package is the dual zone a/c. The a/c controls on the manual a/c are of the ’3-dials-in-a-row’ variety. BTW-I’m looking at buying a basic fwd Sport as my next vehicle. The pricing is reasonable, the interior (even in base ‘Sport’ form)is amazing, and it should be reasonably economical to operate.

    • 0 avatar
      Atum

      Here in the former CSA, some A/C systems aren’t strong enough to tackle 80-100 degree temperatures from Early May-Mid September. This could be due to a lack of rear vents, but I think car companies need to consider the south sometimes. Standard ventilated front seats. A COOLED steering wheel. Someone needs to pull of the latter.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I thought this was bizarre as well. My guess is there will be exactly zero equipped without AC on dealer lots. Might as well raise the base price by the cost of the Cold Weather Group. Even in climates where you can do without the cold air, AC is great to dehumidify and keep the glass clear.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    I’ve seen a few of these in the “flesh” and I still think those headlights are a bit too ‘Charlie Chan’. Not as horribly ugly as the Juke, but still a poor choice given Jeep’s traditional styling.

  • avatar

    So it’s heavier than Wrangler yet again. How is it that FCA product planners launch trial balloons how they want to do away with Wrangler’s live axles ostensibly for weight, yet they roll out this?

    I like the SD card slot though. It’s too easy to swipe USB key out of its connector by accident, at which point you better hope that the key breaks before the vehicle connector.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      I think that they are testing the waters for a car based Wrangler in the interest of further platform consolidation. Hopefully the less than enthusiastic response to the Cherokee will prevent this from ever happening.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I haven’t heard that the response is “less than enthusiastic.” In fact, from what I’m hearing and seeing right on this commentary thread, it’s proving to be pretty popular. My wife and I looked at the Trailhawk during the Philly Auto Show and she was quite taken with it. The problem is, our immediate need is for a reliable and reasonably economical pickup truck that doesn’t take up two parking spaces at every shopping center. If Jeep happens to announce one before this fall then I’ll replace my current F-150 with that, then replace the JKU with something like this Cherokee a few years down the road.

        • 0 avatar
          azmtbkr81

          I should have been more specific, the reception and reviews from the off-road community have been less than enthusiastic.

          Reviews from the mainstream auto media have been a mixed bag.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Ok, you’re closer. Then again, with the hard-core off-road community, if it isn’t a Wrangler or purpose-built off-roader, it’s a failure. All you have to do is look back in time to see how the “Trail Rated” Patriot and even Liberty were first reviewed. (I won’t mention the Compass–even I saw that as a joke.)

            I believe we’ll all discover that the new Cherokee is more capable than some want to believe and that it will live up to the Jeep reputation over time but I also think we’re going to see some serious changes in the entire lineup over time which may or may not help them. A lot of people hate the idea of Jeep dropping the solid axles for live axles on the Wrangler, but at the same time that could actually improve the Jeep’s flexibility and repairability on the trail while taking hundreds of pounds off of a pretty heavy rig.

            There will always be those hard-core off-roaders who will swear by their hyper-modified rigs, no matter what the core vehicle was. Unfortunately they are a fairly small niche in the automotive community and few companies can afford to build just for that community any more. If a Jeep can handle a typical logging trail, 95% of their customers will be happy.

          • 0 avatar
            azmtbkr81

            I would probably agree with your points if we were talking about Porsche but since with Jeep the enthusiast model (Wrangler) is also the volume model Fiat needs to very careful about pissing off the very vocal majority of their customer base.

            It is true that most Wranglers will never see anything more rugged than a mall parking lot but you can bet their owners, even more so than the hard-core off-roaders, wouldn’t be caught dead in soft-roader that can’t be modified beyond putting a pair of fuzzy dice on the mirror. In a way Jeep’s most loyal customers are also their worst enemies since these “Jeep experts” have no problem sharing their views on what a “real” Jeep is and what isn’t.

            In fact just last week I had a friend who would likely be a good candidate for the Cherokee tell me how disappointed he was that the new Cherokee is nothing like the old XJ. He is looking at a Wrangler now instead simply because if he is buying a Jeep he wants a Jeep even if it is overkill for his needs.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Chrysler was tasked with competing with a lot of different vehicles in an ultra competitive market. What they came up with is a bit polarizing in how it looks, as has been mentioned a thousand times before, but I think the ultimate outcome is a vehicle that would serve most peoples needs quite well for an urban runabout.

    I think the highlight of this vehicle is the 3.2 Pentastar, but I’m leery about the 9 speed auto its mated to.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Thanks for finally a fair assessment of this extraordinary new Jeep!

    Now Mopar needs a new Journey replcement to take on the small tall wagon segment.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Owner reviews I have been reading have been glowing for the Cherokee. The owners like the build quality, performance and quality/design of the interior.

  • avatar
    Loki

    You should post some pictures of the front-end at night with headlights on. It looks like some goofy cartoon caricature of a car.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    So pleased that Chrylser brought the Cherokee back, even if it is a mere shadow of its former self.

    Remember the unbreakable 4.0L inline six of the box Cherokees?

    I’d like to complain about the looks of the front end- calling it radical would be an understatement; however, the features are impressive on this Jeep (although you’re certainly paying for them with a loaded price tag pushing $40K).

    In my humble opinion…Sergio’s done well, here.

    Although the jury’s still out regarding the 9 speed slushbox.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    Sorry, but Alex’s assertion that a small lift (or lift of any kind) is easy just isn’t true:

    http://truckyeah.jalopnik.com/dont-believe-rumors-that-the-2014-jeep-cherokee-is-un-1522058978

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      I’m confused, where did I say that it would be easy? What I said was:

      “”While it would be possible to design kits with four new half-shafts, springs and suspension bits that would lift and correct the geometry change, I suspect the costs would be prohibitive, so don’t expect much more than a 2-3 inch spring-spacer kit for base models and 1-2 inches for the Trailhawk.””

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      Pretty sure you can get 1-2″ out of spacer kits, the Jalop article was on designing a ground-up lift.

      Considering this is a lifted Dart already, and that 99% of new buyers are NOT looking to take this on anything worse than a rutted dirt road, much of the noise about off-road capability is bunk.

      Jeep: Still the Hard-core soft-roader.

      Alternatively: Jeep: Shut up and buy a Wrangler you pussies…

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “…option your Cherokee up to $40,890″

    LOLZ, I think not. That’s insane for such a small vehicle, which has had a rather shaky start.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      One can get a fairy well equipped GRAND CHEROKEE for that price.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        DATS RITE.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        You can roll out in an Explorer Sport or Durango R/T as well. Not that they are crossed shopped though.

        • 0 avatar
          AdamVIP

          A similarly equipped Durango is about 60k. Same with the GC.

          The Cherokee lets you put all the Chrysler tech into it.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            You can purchase a Durango pretty nicely equipped for $41K. Thats the R/T with premium leather, tow pack, and technology group. It may not have all the options that the Cherokee has, but there isn’t much to complain about.

            If I were going to spend almost $40K on a Jeep that had trail-cred and four doors it would be a Rubicon X.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            Thats what I was thinking too… $40k would put you in a loaded Wrangler Unlimited and then you would at least have a real Jeep. Heck, even $30k would put you in a pretty nice one. You would lose about 5mpg but you would easily make that up in resale value, not to mention street cred. If you really want a station wagon then it seems you would be better off with a Grand Cherokee for the same price and about the same economy as well.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @mnm4ever: As an owner of a Wrangler Unlimited, I must disagree with you. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely love my JKU, but it is a very tall vehicle that can be difficult for smaller people to enter and has a few other convenience drawbacks as well.
            The Grand Cherokee has different drawbacks centered around its overall dimensions–being quite large and simply too much vehicle for some people.
            The new Cherokee offers a more compact vehicle in almost every dimension while still offering a comfortable and capable vehicle almost perfect for an empty-nest couple who still enjoy camping and getting out into nature.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            A Grand Cherokee Limited V6 4×4 is about $38.5k according to the Jeep Website, give or take. Put a few small options on an already well equipped vehicle and there you go.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            @vulpine – I get who they think will buy this. I am just saying that the reasoning is off. The main point seems to be that this is more off road capable than the competing CUVs. And my point is that people who really care about off road performance (and image) are going to want a real Jeep, even if its kinda tall (isn’t that the point of going off road?) The Grand Cherokee might be larger than the Cherokee, but it isn’t “large”, its a great size for most people, and small has never really sold well in the US anyways. It even gets pretty decent gas mileage too. And people who want something comfy and small but still want to go do outdoorsy adventures will do fine with any CUV, the enhanced off road capabilities are meaningless.

            So who will buy it? My guess is people who like the looks, and people who are into Jeep products but want a cheaper/smaller/more comfortable option. I am just saying there is no freakin way I would spend $30-40k on one. For $41k you can get a base model Land Rover Evoque and really impress the neighbors.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “and small has never really sold well in the US anyways.”

            This^^

            I think what we’re forgetting here is that the Cherokee is going more global then the GC so the size of the Cherokee is more inline with that goal

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @mnm4ever: That really depends. I believe the Trailhawk especially IS more off-road capable than competing CUVs; most of them don’t even offer a full-time 4×4 capability OR a locking differential and you frequently hear complaints about how when a wheel loses traction the system kicks in, only to kick out again as soon as it gets traction back on that wheel–that doesn’t work on a slippery slope, whether that slope be dirt or ice and snow. Yes, some of them do but like the new Escape it still doesn’t work as well as it could. Full time 4×4 still has an advantage over all the other AWD systems, though perhaps it’s overkill for some.

            I will grant that the hard-core off-road enthusiast isn’t likely to buy one of these as a primary off-roader; give it 10 years or so when these first models are selling for around $10K or so and I’m willing to bet you’ll see some extreme lift kits available to turn these into the new XJ. In fact, I expect to see those kits available much sooner, putting much more flexibility in the suspension and much bigger tires on the corners. There will be those who do it just to prove it can be done.

            Me? I’d love to see a Cherokee-based pickup truck if I can’t have a Wrangler-based (factory built) model.

  • avatar
    anti121hero

    I’ll keep buying old xjs, Thank you

  • avatar
    mjz

    Alex, great review as always. The appearance of the front end is growing on me. I thought it was HIDEOUS when I saw the first photos, but in person, it looks a lot better somehow. It certainly is distinctive. I do wish they would integrate the headlight and “eyebrow” lights into one unit, instead of two separate entities. I think that would improve things quite a bit. Maybe for the refresh. Seems like FCA might have a hit with this one.

  • avatar
    carguy

    While Fiat/Chrysler definitely needed a solid competitor in the compact crossover market, maybe they would have been better off not making this a Jeep. Practicality, economy and good road manners sell CUVs – off road ability less so. Particularly if the off road ability negatively impacts the practicality, economy and on-road manners. Without being burdened by the off-road expectations that a Jeep badge brings with it, they would have been free to focus on what most CUV buyers really want.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      Nicely put, I suspect the Cherokee will not only be a mediocre seller but will deepen the erosion of the Jeep brand started by the Compass and Patriot.

      • 0 avatar

        As mentioned by Alex jeep has built plenty of non off roaders over the years. I see no reason why this would hurt the brand in all but the eyes of the 2 % or less of new jeep buyers that go off road (full disclosure I had an XJ with a 3″ lift and it spent 1000′s of miles off road as well as a large number of other 4×4′s used in the same way) That said I believe jeep can’t soft road the wrangler and it needs to maintain some sort of offroad halo vehicle for the brand to work. Also based on the first few months sales it doesen’t look like this will be a poor seller. There are plenty of people out there who want a Jeep GC but want to spend under 30K (yes you can spend more on a Cherokee but I imagine the actual out the door price will be more like 28K)

      • 0 avatar
        mjz

        Jeep was the hottest selling big volume brand last month. Up 38%. All models were up, so the Cherokee is bringing new buyers into the brand. So much for “brand erosion”.

        • 0 avatar
          azmtbkr81

          That’s a pretty big leap to say that the Cherokee is single-handedly driving sales for all Jeep models. Nearly all new models sell well their first few months, lets see how it is doing a year from now.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I’m not so sure he’s claiming that the Cherokee is the exclusive driver of sales–our abysmal winter weather along the northern tier could be another factor; Jeep sales tend to rise when roads are bad.

            On the other hand, the new Cherokee has definitely spawned a lot of curiosity and I can’t put it past the Cherokee to raise interest in the Jeep brand better than any previous model (except for the JKU which is dominating the Wrangler market). This is certainly something that Fiat/Chrysler was looking for and hints that we could see a serious shift in their product line. Marccione has already stated that he’s all for a Jeep pickup and this may just be the evidence he needs to start pushing for it.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          I agree partially with azmtbkr81 that the Cherokee isn’t really responsible for the increases of other Jeep models as they were already on an upward trend before the Cherokee was released. Even the Compatriot twins.

          Though, the Cherokee is certainly responsible for a large chunk of the brand’s increase as a whole.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Besides the Trailhawk, I don’t see how any of the Cherokees can really lay claim to off road capability any more than most other crossovers. All of the 4wd wizardry in the world won’t help when you have plain jane all season tires, and poor ground clearance. I reckon a new Forester is on the same level as one of these Cherokees with the Active Drive II system, and any old Rav4/escape/CRV matches the regular Active Drive models.

    I am impressed with the fuel economy given the v6 and 4100lb curb weight. The transmission and axle disconnect really is helping a ton, along with the raked back windshield and other aero bits (like the flaps in front of the wheels that are on just about everything these days).

    I can see some appeal to this thing if I look at it as a “baby GC,” a sophisticated, high tech mini-luxury SUV. I’m just irked by the continuous claims of it being a real off-roader, I can’t see a Trailhawk really withstanding any sort of sustained abuse beyond the cute little loops that the factory sets up for journalists to drive through.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      For off-roaders, the Trailhawk will be the way to go. If they want specific off-roading prowess, they can have it. The other offerings in this class don’t have this as an option.

  • avatar
    brianyates

    I’d bet that BTSR’s underwear has a Fiat/Chrysler sticker on it.

  • avatar

    I’m amped that they made the Trailhawk (and am pretty darn close to the target customer), but its price overlaps with the Rubicon and the 4Runner. Problematic.

  • avatar
    rdchappell

    Off-road ability in this case = curb-hoppin’ ability in the mall parking lot.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    I think the front end look is OK, better in person. Is it Cord-differenct or Edsel-different? Interior comfort, controls, displays, etc., seem quite good. That’s what you look at and use when you drive or ride.

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    I was surprised not to hear any discussion of the DOWNSHIFT. Strangely, while he did discuss UPSHIFT, Alex appears to have ignored his earlier review of the transmission:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/zfs-9-speed-9hp-transmission-puts-dog-clutches-on-the-leash/

    “Downshifts are where the 9HP truly feels different. Because of the design, if you’re in 8th gear and want to pass, the transmission will often need to drop 4 or 5 gears to get to a suitable ratio. (Remember that 4th gear is the first ratio going back down the scale that is lower than 1:1.) To do this the transmission has to accomplish the harder task of engaging two dog clutches. ” – Dykes

    If this is true, why didn’t this observation make it into the YouTube video?

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      The video was getting way too long and I had to cut about 12 minutes of additional footage. In the end since it didn’t bother me I left that on the cutting room floor.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    700 punds heavier than my CR-V, worse mileage despite complex 9-gear tranny (see 700 pounds), 2/3 of the trunk of the CRV, more expensive than a CR-V.. and chrysler reputation for reliability and maintenace cost … where do I sign up?

    And don’t give me that off-road capability. first it isn’t really off-road capable, and the people who would care wouldn’t buy this anyway.

    At least I would have expected mileage witth he 9-speed. but any mileage gains are eaten by the weight.

    I think I keep my primitive 5-speed CR-V, at least I’m ashamend when I get 23 mpg on highway.

    • 0 avatar

      As I have an offroader already to me the things that make me want the cherokee is the idea of a smooth V6 getting mid 20′s on the highway along with the 4k towing a figure nothing else in the class comes close too. I actually think this may be a bigger selling point now that (at least here in New England) personal ownership of pickups is on the decline. I was amazed at the number of CUVS I saw at the camp grounds here last summer pulling popups and even small Hybrid campers. 4 years ago the CUVs were there but with dad pulling the camper with his pickup and Mom carting the kids. Now there was alot more CUVS with Class 3 hitches hanging below the bumpers Mostly previous Gen Escapes but a few Equinox’s as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        The Cherokee’s compact car wheelbase, skinny LRR tires, 15 gallon tank, car sized mirrors, etc. are a long way from a tow truck no matter how good the transmission cooler is. The 3500 lb rating of the rest of the class is already more than enough for popups, small boats, lumber trailers etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      That really depends on what you mean by off-road capable; the Cherokee Trailhawk has already proven itself capable by taking the Rubicon Trail, even if it did bypass some of the more extreme portions. (I said “…If it did bypass…” I own an ’08 JKU and I took that factory stock through parts of Rousch Creek Pennsylvania that regulars said it would never handle without a lift. I also saw a lot of other JKs and even several Libertys that handled the lesser trails with ease. I would not make such an absolute statement about the Cherokee because there are those who will certainly prove you wrong.

      That said, were I not looking for a pickup truck I would be very interested in the new Cherokee as a second car. I like the looks of it along with the capabilities. Sure, I may not use the true 4×4 drive often, but I WOULD use it because where I live gets serious snow issues in the winter that most AWD systems simply can’t handle properly (I drop into full-time 4×4 on snow and ice) and mud in other seasons–along with the occasional need to take a short-cut off the road to get around obstacles on the road. With a Cherokee and the Trailhawk especially, I wouldn’t be worried about doing so. Essentially, it out Outbacks the Subaru Outback.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “it’s time we in the auto press adjusted.”

    I haven’t driven the Cherokee, but I still think it is crazy to tell shoppers spending $30K+ on a vehicle to “get over it” or “you’ll get used to it” when it comes to this new technology.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Actually the problem is that the majority of shoppers don’t care, it’s us in the “biz” that get our knickers in a bunch.

      • 0 avatar

        As i mentioned before Ive heard several people (non car review reading people) how much they love the CVT transmissions in their cars. So obviously there is a disconnect between driving public and the press (much the same as with the manual transmission discussion and we know how well that went for sales)

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I fully understand the purpose and desire of the CVT–and I’m not a professional reviewer. Twelve years ago I tried to purchase a Saturn Vue with CVT but to be quite blunt the technology wasn’t yet capable of handling 150 horses without burning out the belt/chain. I ended up getting a sport 5-speed manual transaxle instead and that beast is still going strong.

          One of its biggest advantages is that the system seamlessly adjusts to the proper amount of torque to meet demand with no jarring downshift or noticeable hesitation between shifts. It really can offer the best ‘gear’ for the need no matter the need as you’re not stepping to a series of fixed gear ranges. With a manual or automatic, I’m sure most of us have noticed that there’s a pretty steep jump between second and third gears that is sometimes too steep for the demand. CVT eliminates that to offer the smoothest acceleration of any available system short of the raw electric drive of cars like the Tesla.

  • avatar
    AJ

    I rode in a Cherokee at a Camp Jeep. I was impressed with it, and in person I think they look better. The Trail Hawk is really kind of cool. I would drive one easy over anything else in it’s class.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I don’t know if Jeep’s heritage helps or hurts them. I’m sure there are plenty of people that buy into the trail-rated thing, but imagine what Chrysler could have done if they focused on pavement and inclement weather and left the off roading to the Wrangler.

    I don’t consider trying to be all things to all people a recipe for success. And please don’t counter with the Camry and Accord. Those cars are actually quite specialized; just specialized as a tool that works great for the most common use case.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Jeep’s heritage definitely helps. The new Cherokee fixes Jeep’s problem where they offered nothing worthwhile in one of the hottest product categories (CR-V/Rav4).

      Off-road ability sells. Wranglers are already hugely popular with women (around half of the new Wrangler owners I know are women), and the Cherokee has enough Wrangler magic, along with a bunch more practicality (gas mileage, handling). It won’t appeal to everybody, but it will appeal to a lot of people who are looking at CUVs and don’t want just an appliance.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Good explanations on how the different 4×4 systems work. The deep dive into the ZF 9-speed was great as well. Hopefully Alex can take on more technical writing like that.

    Some might consider this a snore, but I would be interested in learning how different manufacturers accomplish sound deadening, and what your options are in the aftermarket. I was surprised to hear foam was used in the Cherokee, as I thought you needed something heavier like mass loaded vinyl (MLV) to block noise. I’ve read that GM uses some kind of fiberglass in the Verano. Other manufacturers try to solve NVH by using the sound system for noise cancelling. A comparison of different techniques would be cool.

    With few exceptions (Cruze, Verano), you need to spend serious money to get a quiet car. Effective aftermarket sound deadening would make many less expensive cars more palatable for those of us with highway commutes.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Actually, I too would be interested in more info on sound-deadening. If you’ve ever owned a car that didn’t have enough of it you spend a lot of time wondering why

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        It used to be that sound deadening was done with rag-style blanket material which was very heavy. Later they used a fairly dense foam material which aged poorly, got hard and would crack and fall out of those insulated areas. Even later, I believe they started using a self-adhesive expanding foam molded directly to the inner cabin panels covered with a sheet of plastic. To be honest, I don’t know what they use now.

        What is surprising to me is that prior to the JK Wranglers, soft top models especially were notorious for being noisy. I ordered an ’08 in late ’07 and was honestly surprised at how comparatively quiet it was–only slightly louder than my then-primary solid-body SUW (Wagon, not Vehicle). The JKU is now my primary driver and while I admit it is louder than most, it is by no means as loud as its reputation even after more than 6 years on the road and still riding with the original soft top. Whatever they’re using today is surprisingly effective.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I read 4 Wheeler Magazine’s initial review of the Trailhawk, apparently the software doesn’t actually allow for a rigid 50/50 lock front to rear at low throttle applications, you have to gun it and get wheel spin before a decent amount of power gets transferred rearwards. That’s pretty disappointing, for such a hyped pseudo offroader.

    “The Good: Trailhawk delivers a good ride over the rough stuff. There’s little head toss and even with the tires at street pressure we didn’t feel like we were getting beaten up. Ground clearance under the center of the chassis is better than you’d expect and with careful tire placement we didn’t touch one of the skidplates or scrape a bumper fascia all day long. We were dragging the rear bumper and tow hitch of our ’99 Cherokee in numerous places and our T-case crossmember kissed more than one rock thanks to the XJ’s longer breakover angle. Although we find it gimmicky and only used it for test purposes, the hill decent and hill ascent control does work very well and allows the vehicle to steadily climb or descend at a constant speed automatically. Think of it as off-road cruise control. Also, the rear locker really locks. Lift a front or rear tire…or a front and rear tire…and you’ll keep pulling forward.

    The Bad: Thanks to its lack of articulation, the Cherokee drives like a piece of plywood through off-camber sections of the trail, so thank goodness for that rear locker. Again, it may have been the altitude, but the 2.4L Trailhawk felt down on power, requiring more throttle than you’d think to make certain climbs and in the sand getting stuck always felt like a constant and imminent possibility. The V-6 Trailhawk did much better through the sand, powering up and over berms with no trouble and generating enough tire speed to keep going with no worry. We did run into a hiccup with the V-6 model trying to climb one particularly hard obstacle. Despite being in low range with the rear locker engaged and the traction control off, it kept chopping power as tire speed was being generated. The rock was covered in loose sand and as soon as the rear would start to climb the computer cut throttle and the vehicle would roll back a foot or so to the bottom.

    The Ugly: We absolutely didn’t like the 4×4 system. Even in low range, Rock mode, and with the rear diff locked the Active Drive system only sends power to the rear wheels when it senses tire slippage. The result is a very distinct inability to drive elegantly. You line up at an obstacle and start to climb and the rear kicks in only after the front tires start to spin. In a sense, you drive the Active Drive Lock system like you would an old GM pickup with a Gov-Lok rear differential: generate a lot of wheel spin and then – Bam – the other side starts pulling. It was fine for the novice drivers in the group who were just ham-fisting up hills hard on the gas, but for experienced off-roaders like us used to driving elegantly, it was counterintuitive and not enjoyable.”

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Can you link the review and specifically the date that this ‘initial review’ was performed? I’m not arguing any of the statements, but I’m wondering if this might not be one of the reasons Jeep held the model to adjust the software. 4Wheeler’s review may now be invalid.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      I have to say that I did not experience that when I had the Trailhawk off road with two tires in the air. The only thing I can guess from that is that either there was something wrong with their Cherokee or Chrysler changed software between then and when I drove it.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        August 2013 it looks like. I’d link it except TTAC deletes/doesn’t show(?) posts with link. The article is titled “Cherokee KL hits the dirt.”

        It’s silly that there isn’t an option for a user selected 50/50 front to rear lock. Heck I think the Rav4 has that.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Fairly sure it does have that option. Heck, the Patriot does and it behaves as expected. Makes me wonder what was really going on during that reivew.

          I know the stability control system (which you can never really turn off) can be sensitive and cut power and apply brakes at inopportune times, that didn’t surprise me.

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    Funnily enough, it’s not the front of the Cherokee that makes me wince, in fact, it looks quite cool to me. It is the back, more specifically, that backwards ball cap perched on top of the backlight. It looks gigantically stupid, though not as gigantically stupid as the one on Nissan’s new Rogue, Mazda’s CX-5, or, the the Cherokee’s big brother Grand Cherokee. Is is supposed to look sporty? I know they nearly all do it, but, ugh!

  • avatar
    Krusty

    I am about to buy a Trailhawk, after testing many different CUV’s, including the Forester and the CX-5, and after owning a 1999 XJ Cherokee for several years. My only trepidation is overall Jeep/Chrysler reliability, but it was outweighed by the comfort, power, smoothness and electronics of the new Cherokee. It may be the extra weight, but the Cherokee was a nicer drive than the Mazda CX-5, which, in turn was nicer than the Forester. Regarding the difference between the 1999 and the 2014 Cherokees, I felt like I was sacrificing a lot in everyday driving performance (gas mileage, comfort, build quality) with the 1999 Cherokee in return for the comparatively small percentage of time I took it off-road or through bad weather when it performed “like a Jeep”. Though I don’t own it yet, so I can’t say for sure, it looks to me like the 2014 Cherokee will basically reverse that compromise. I’ll get a much better on-road driving experience and maybe a little less off-road/bad weather performance. Works for me!

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Mr Dykes was a lot kinder to this Jeep than I would have been. Likely because I drove the 2wd 4 cyl Latitude. It’s pretty slow and puts more emphasis on the transmission, which isn’t the smoothest around. Also it rides pretty stiffly and for myself I’d prefer a car than SUV, it’s terrible. Especially when I got back in my A3 I just couldn’t see myself downgrading to that vehcile. Still a good review that explained a few things about the vehcile I didn’t know.

    btw if you get it in black the front end looks a little better.

  • avatar
    tralls

    What a wonderful review. I loved your review of the new transmission and this review of the Jeep was just as good. Also, your review of the Honda Accord Hybrid was wonderful and I think you should do a write up of their new hybrid system.

  • avatar
    2old4u

    This is one of the best reviews & comments I’ve seen on the new Cherokee. For the Jeep purists, keep in mind that the only “real” Jeep is the Wrangler. Two door. Soft top. (See “1944 Willys”) Common platforms are necessary for survival in today’s automotive world. That, (and the F150) is why the Ranger went bye-bye in North America. I haven’t driven the Cherokee yet due to my “Never Buy a New Motor Vehicle in It’s First Year” policy. But I’m lookin’ at it. One thing I didn’t see mentioned is that in order to flat tow the Cherokee you have to order Active Drive II. This makes it a Trail Hawk sans tow hooks, skid plates rear end lock and front/rear lowers. You even get the extra inch of lift. Lots of people like to pull these vehicles behind their $150K+ RV’s. My only concern (after owning a ’98 Dakota) is build quality after 3-5 years. JD Power & the Car Mags never talk about that.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Alex,

    You should try to get an LR2 when you test-drive the Trailhawk. It seems like the LR2 and (loaded) Trailhawk are priced fairly close, and they both claim to be the only off-road capable crossovers.

  • avatar
    scouseusa

    Alex,

    Excellent review, thank you. Very informative and really helped when recently purchasing a new Cherokee.

    After reading some of the comments here, wanted to add my impressions of the vehicle. Full disclosure here, I have only had the vehicle 2 weeks, but already driven over 2000 miles. This is the first new vehicle I have bought in 7 years, (2007 Mustang), and was a replacement for a 2002 Land Rover Discovery II. So I don’t replace vehicles very often. I live in the midwest and switch between a summer driver and a winter driver. My criteria for vehicles are probably different than most, I’m not an off-roader, but want a comfortable, secure feeling vehicle for the harsh midwestern winters.

    Why I considered the Cherokee. I loved the ability, weight and secure feel of the LR in winter, but it was getting long in the tooth and requiring too much maintenance. Parts are hard to come by and visits to a LR dealer require a second mortgage and I needed a reliable winter vehicle. I considered the Grand Cherokee, but I’m getting a bit older, wanted my creature comforts and didn’t want the price tag that comes with the Grand Cherokee with the options I wanted. (Add $10,000 to my out the door Cherokee price). I considered a Subaru for their reputation and ability and it was top of my list for a long time until this vehicle came along, however having been stung by the maintenance price of imports, really wanted a US born vehicle. This was a home run in the segment. Also comparing the Subaru to the Jeep at an auto show, the interior of the Jeep is a much nicer place to be.

    What I like so far. Great fuel economy, (got the V6 and averaged 29 MPG on a recent highway trip to Niagara). Currently averaging around 25 MPG on my mixed driving work commute. Easily exceeding the stated statistics. It’s all about how you drive the car. The V6 has the power I need when I need it. Have no problems overtaking on the highway, although it does sometimes require a heavy right foot to get it to downshift a few cogs. I Also wanted a bit more towing ability than the average crossover, so the V6 option sold me on this vehicle. It has all the creature comforts of a much higher priced vehicle, heated leather seats and heated steering wheel are very nice. Plus the UConnect system gives me all the media options I want and more. All in all, a very nice place to call home on the road for hopefully the next 10 years or more.

    What I compromised on? Cargo space is a little limited compared to the competitors, but still very configurable. On cold days, the first few gearshifts seems a little exaggerated, (not sure if this will ease once it’s a little more worn-in). But overall, a mostly very smooth shifting gearbox. I really did not like the look of this vehicle at first, but it does grow on you. (Still don’t like a rear, a bit too much like a mini-van for me, but I never look at the rear when I’m in the driving seat).

    Got it at the end of winter, so haven’t really tried out the 4wd in harsh conditions yet, but overall, it feels very solid. Very happy so far.

    For all those claiming it’s not a real off-roader. You right, it’s not. Nor is it really aimed at that, despite Chrysler’s claims and the Trailhawk model. However if Chrysler can sell a boat load of these, then they will be able to continue to build the Wrangler you all love. This is not a Wrangler replacement, but a replacement for the awful Liberty which I would never buy, but drove many times. I have a friend with a Wrangler who loves it, and it is a much different feeling vehicle, but does not come with the creature comforts most of the non off-road drivers want. The Cherokee is however a very solid feeling vehicle that is versatile and I feel confident will handle the snow and mud well. (It feels just as solid as my old Land Rover)

    How will it hold-up? only time will tell, but for my first Chrysler vehicle, I’m very satisfied so far.


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