HEELS ON WHEELS: 2014 JEEP CHEROKEE REVIEW
...the 2014 Jeep Cherokee truly deserves to be called an innovator
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE CHEROKEE VEHICLE
The Cherokee nameplate has returned to the Jeep lineup in 2014, offering buyers a smaller crossover experience with loads of luxury and respectable performance both on and off the road. Surprisingly innovative, right now to the revolutionary one-piece waterfall hood and grille featuring slimmer headlights, the Cherokee is shining diamond to the Chrysler brand.
I drove a 2014 Jeep Cherokee with the all-new new 271-horsepower 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 with 239 pound-feet of torque and a tow rating of 4,500 pounds, matched to a segment-first nine-speed automatic transmission. Available in four trims – the base Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk and Limited – my fully-loaded Limited came with the following standard features: power front seating; heated front seats; heated steering wheel with audio controls; Bluetooth; Uconnect multi-media system; XM Radio; remote start; back-up camera; leather-wrapped wheel and shifter; seven-inch multi-view display; eighteen-inch wheels; LED headlights. Total price as described comes to $29,995.
The Cherokee remains in a unique segments where main competitors are few, including the Acura RDX and Ford Escape for their size, ability and refinement. Smaller crossovers with fewer options and luxury include the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Kia Sportage.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: The designers did a great play on the Jeep’s classic seven-slot grille – the look grows on you. For a tighter crossover, rear passengers will have good headspace. There is no rear DVD option, moms (hard to find on smaller crossovers). Some climate controls, like seats and wheel, are only accessible through the touchscreen. It’s easy shopping as the trims are pretty distinct, with the Trailhawk model exemplifying the Cherokee’s off-road ability; and the Limited pampering passengers with soft-touch leather upholstery, an upgraded 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a host of safety technology. However, all are expensive options, raising my test drive cost another $7k.
Reliability & Safety Factor: Standard safety includes anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, and an advanced airbag system. A $2,155 Technology Group adds Park Assist, Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, Forward Collision Warning with Crash Mitigation – all recommended features that take away some of the labor and stress in everyday driving situations.
Cost Issues: The base Sport trim starts at $24,995 with my top-of-the-line Limited and extra packages (Tech (mostly safety features), Luxury, the upgraded V6 engine and better equipped Uconnect system) bringing my test drive to $37,030 – quite pricey for this segment, but the Cherokee proves to be a quality vehicle inside and on the road.
Activity & Performance Ability: The 3.2-liter V6 engine combined with the new nine-speed transmission is the way to go – smooth, responsive, and lending to some excellent fuel economy results at 25 miles-per-gallon. There was some heavy highway driving, but I also engaged the Cherokee in a fair amount of traffic and around-town trips. Sailing through the foothills of Yosemite, the handling was controlled and the LED lighting really made a difference in poorly lit highways and streets. Three all-new four-wheel drive systems include the fully automatic Jeep Active Drive I with a single power transfer unit; Jeep Active Drive II with two speeds and low range for enhanced climbing ability; and Jeep Active Drive Lock that adds a locking rear differential crucial for severe road conditions.
The Green Concern: The Jeep Cherokee with the 3.2-liter V6 engine gets 19-city and 27-highway for a combined 22 miles-per-gallon. I was able to average 25.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
SUV shoppers might first see this smaller crossover as a little pricey for the size when fully loaded with refinement and performance features, but will feel the money is well-spent after a comprehensive test drive – the 2014 Jeep Cherokee truly deserves to be called an innovator.
©2014 Katrina Ramser