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2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Review By John Heilig

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2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

By John Heilig

Reviewed Model: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

Engine: 2.4-liter

Horsepower/Torque: 184 hp @ 6,400 rpm/171 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Length x Width x Height: 182.0 x 73.2 x 66.2 in.
Tires: P245/65R17
Cargo: 24.6/54.9 cu. ft. (behind m2nd row/behind 1st row)
Economy: 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway/17.6 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 15.9 gal. Curb Weight: 4,000 lbs. (approx.)
Sticker: $37,215 (includes $995 destination, $6,725 in options)

The Bottom Line: The face the Jeep Cherokee presents to the public may be more modern and aerodynamic, but the performance is as capable as you would expect from a vertical-grille Jeep. The Cherokee may represent a new design direction for Jeep and it is welcome.

You expect a certain design language when the vehicle is a Jeep. Like the old WWII workhorse that is the ancestor of all modern Jeeps, you expect the traditional seven-slot vertical grille and essentially vertical panels all around, although some of the newer models seem to be varying slightly from this norm.

Well, the Jeep Cherokee has taken this tradition and shattered it. There are those who think this is heresy, but in my mind it’s a good thing. The 2014 Jeep Cherokee has an aerodynamic front fascia with LED driving lights and projector headlamps. Looking at it, you kind of know it’s a Jeep, but you also know it’s a different animal.

With the Liberty no longer in the Jeep lineup, the Cherokee returns as the “compact” Jeep. Welcome back.

The interior is equally as cool as the exterior, but not as shockingly modern. The instrument panel still has a round speedometer and tachometer with a modifiable information panel between them. Perhaps the Jeep designers chose not to go too far out with the interior and let the exterior grow on people for a while.

Under the hood is a 2.4-liter inline four rated at 184 horsepower and 171 lb.-ft. of torque. A 3.6-liter V6 is also available. Power reaches the wheels through a 9-speed automatic transmission, representing the first SUV to have that many gears. Needless to say, progression through the gears was smooth.

Ride quality is very good for a Jeep. This is not meant as a put down, but sometimes Jeep ride quality can be harsh.

On the center console, next to the shifter, is a rotary dial that lets you choose among transmission settings to deal with various road conditions. For example, you can choose automatic, snow (we needed this one), sport, sand/mud and rock. These provide the best four-wheel drive performance for these road conditions through Jeep’s Active Drive II.

We had about six inches of snow while the Cherokee was in our driveway and negotiating all this white stuff was fun. Normally, I get a rear-wheel drive convertible in this kind of weather, but this time I lucked out.

Besides snow, we had outside temperatures in the single digits, thanks to the Polar Vortex (another name for damned cold weather). The heater worked hard, but kept us toasty war. Both the driver and front passenger have heated seats, and these were almost too warm at times.

The front seats were comfortable and offered good side support. Under the passenger seat is a small storage area that is useful if you have to park the car and you don’t want valuables to be seen from the outside. The passenger seat back folds flat, as do the backs of the rear seats, creating a large cargo area. Cargo capacity is pretty good to begin with at nearly 25 cubic feet, but fold the rear seat backs down and this expands to nearly 55 cubic feet. Without a front passenger, you can cram even more in the Cherokee. There are cargo tie-downs in the cargo area, including a frame on the left for more secure storage.

Rear seat legroom is good, with an almost flat floor in the middle, making putting a third passenger back there a non-problem. There are also rear heater outlets for those frigid days.

Accessing the cargo area is through a power lift gate with the most massive struts I have seen.

Part of the extensive list of options are safety features like rear cross traffic alert and active park assist. In addition, our Cherokee had blind spot monitoring to keep us from becoming too friendly with traffic on either side.

I like the redesign of the Jeep Cherokee, although I have read some complaints. The Cherokee is just as capable as any other Jeep and It looks a lot better as well.

2014 The Auto Page