Cherokee: A tough competitor.
2014 JEEP CHEROKEE LIMITED 4X4
Type: Four-wheel-drive full-size SUV.
Price as tested: $36,035 (excluding destination charge).
Engine: 3.2-liter 24-valve V-6 producing 271horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 239 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm.
Transmission: 9-speed automatic.
EPA fuel economy rating: 19 mpg city/26 highway/21 combined. Regular gasoline.
Wheelbase/length: 106.3 inches/182 inches.
Width/height: 73.2 inches/67.3 inches.
Curb weight: 4,044 pounds.
By Mark Phelan
Detroit Free Press
The 2014 Jeep Cherokee probably is the most technically sophisticated SUV ever built. That it remains true to Jeep's go-anywhere heritage and scored EPA highway
ratings up to 31 mpg make the new Cherokee a tribute to Chrysler and Fiat's joint product development. The Cherokee model range includes competitors for everything
from economical crossovers like the Honda CR-V to luxury models like the BMW X3 and rugged offroaders like the Toyota 4Runner. Prices start at $22,995 for a front-wheel-drive Cherokee with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. All Cherokees have a nine-speed automatic transmission. The least expensive four-wheel-drive model uses the 2.4L engine and goes for $24,995. A 271-hp 3.2L V6 starts at $25,990 for frontdrive and $27,990 for 4WD. The Cherokee has three four-wheel-drive systems. The most capable Trailhawk package has serious off-road features such as a locking rear differential and low range of gears. Trailhawk starts at $29,495 with the 2.4L and $30,990 with the V-6. I tested a very well equipped V-6 Cherokee Limited with the midlevel 4WD system. Its features included adaptive cruise control, lanedeparture assist, blind-spot alert, navigation, voice recognition, Bluetooth music and phone compatibility, heated and ventilated leather seats and automatic parking. It cost $36,030. All prices exclude destination charges. The Cherokee's many features make it a bargain compared with luxury SUVs, and few if any competitors match its off-road capability. Chrysler engineers modified an architecture Fiat developed for compact European cars on the Cherokee. They stretched and stiffened the platform to withstand off-road stress. Like most cars and crossover SUVs, the unibody chassis makes it lighter and more fuel efficient than truck-based SUVs like the 4Runner. The Cherokee has a roomy five-passenger cabin but less cargo space than most competitors. The interior of the Cherokee I tested featured soft materials, but some pretty obvious fake-wood trim. The Cherokee's extensive safety and electronic systems make it nearly capable of autonomous driving. Adaptive cruise control maintains speed and following distance and slows the Cherokee to a full stop. Lane-departure assistance and automatic parking can steer the Jeep. It's also exceptionally capable off-road. I drove a Cherokee Trailhawk through deep mud and door-high water. The V-6 4WD Cherokee I tested scored 19 mpg in the city, 26 on the highway and 21 in combined driving on the EPA test cycle. That's as good or better than its six-cylinder competitors. The new Cherokee does so many things well that it's hard to figure out if its main competitors are front-drive crossovers, luxury models or rugged off-roaders. It doesn't really matter, though. The 2014 Jeep Cherokee is a match for any of them.