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2014 Jeep Cherokee Review

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2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude

2014 Jeep Cherokee
A Latitude with Attitude
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel

As I put pen to paper, or more correctly key-stroke away on my laptop, meteorological summer has just come to a close. At the same time, another end-of-month auto industry sales report is flooding the media news channels.

Of note is that the Jeep brand is hot. In 2013, the Jeep brand set a new, all-time global sales record of 731,565 vehicles. The Jeep brand has set a sales record in each month this year and the Jeep Cherokee just logged its best monthly sales since launch in October.

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1980 Jeep Cherokee
The Cherokee is a big player in the Jeep portfolio. Introduced new in 2013 as a 2014 model, the Cherokee name returned after a multi-year absence. Jeep has been around for eight decades and the first Cherokee came on the scene 30 years ago. The this all-new 2014 Cherokee fills the void, and then some, left by the now departed Jeep Liberty.

Leveraging the FIAT Group, this all-new Jeep uses common architecture, meaning basic platform design, for the underpinnings of the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee. The Compact U.S. Wide (CUS-wide) platform, also used for the Dodge Dart, offers modular architecture that permits many models to be built using the same basic design. The architecture Cherokee is built on is comprised of common, modular and interchangeable components and allows for modularity of the wheelbase, front track, rear track, front overhang, length and width across vehicle lines. The consumer benefit is better quality and reliability, as well as lower costs, and for Jeep, less development time and tooling.

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The 2014 Jeep Cherokee’s body structure has a high-strength steel content of roughly 65 percent. Hot stamped-, high-strength- and ultra-high-strength steel are used to construct a strong, lightweight, solid vehicle architecture.

Customers can choose from four different models (see model list and links to specs and comparisons below): the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Sport, Cherokee Latitude, Cherokee Limited and the rugged, Trail Rated Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. There are two engines to pick from, a 4-cylinder and a V6 both of which are mated to a 9-speed automatic. And then there is a two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive choice also, with the Trailhawk only being a 4x4. One difference from Cherokees of old is that the two-wheel drive model is driving through the front wheels.

The Jeep Cherokee Sport 4x2 is the lowest priced at $22,995. Two grand more gets you the 4x4 on any model. The Latitude 4x2 is $24,495, the Limited 4x2 is $27,995, and the top of the line Trailhawk 4x4 is $29,495.

The 2.4-liter MultiAir 2 Tigershark I-4 engine produces 184 horsepower and 171 lb.-ft. of torque and offers drivers a driving range on a tank of gasoline of nearly 500 miles. EPA test ratings are 22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined for 4x2 models.

The 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6 engine produces 271 horsepower, 239 lb.-ft. of torque and Jeep says delivers best-in-class V-6 towing of 4,500 pounds. The 3.2-liter Pentastar engine has an EPA test fuel economy rating of 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined for 4x2 models. Take note that the V6 is not offered on the Cherokee Sport.

To add to the choices, Jeep offers three new four-wheel-drive systems: Jeep Active Drive I with one-speed power transfer unit (PTU), Jeep Active Drive II with two-speed PTU and low range, and Jeep Active Drive Lock with two-speed PTU, low range and locking rear differential.

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The Jeep Cherokee is the first mid-size SUV to feature rear-axle disconnect, resulting in reduced energy loss when 4x4 capability isn’t needed thus improving fuel efficiency. The rear-axle disconnect seamlessly switches between two- and four-wheel drive for full-time torque management and does not require input from the driver.

Over a week’s time I put about 300 miles on a 2014 Cherokee Latitude 4x4 that had a total MSRP of $30,025. With a base price of $26,495, added were $1495 for the V6 engine, $695 for the U-connect access and Sirius XM, and $345 for a rear view camera plus the no-choice $995 destination charge.

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Of the four Cherokee models, the Latitude is the high volume one that will be chosen by most buyers. I found the Latitude to be quite refined and very comfortable for my around town big-city jaunts. I took one road trip of about 180 miles round trip and found that the Latitude also has nice highway manners and provided very comfortable cruising. Wind and tire noise are well managed.

Fuel economy was in the 28 to 30 mpg range on my highway drives. Around town in stop-and-go city driving I got around 11 mpg, my heavy right foot taking most of the blame. Overall I was on the low twenties.

The 271 HP V6 develops plenty of torque for good acceleration. I didn’t find anything lacking in the overall driving dynamics from the V6 and its partner the nine-speed automatic. Some auto writers have expressed that the 4-cylinder leaves you wanting, so I would be sure you test drive Cherokee models with both engines to determine which one meets your needs.

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Ride and handling is confident and very pleasant. Surprising, but maybe not since this is a Jeep, is that the Cherokee has lots of off-road capability. I didn’t drive this Latitude off-road but I did have the chance to do so at another time. Seats were supportive and comfortable and I really liked the rim-thickness on the steering wheel. This 5-seater has good rear seat room.

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With many families driving SUVs these day it is important to point out that the Cherokee has a long list of both active and passive safety and security features, including: ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus, Forward Collision Warning-Plus, and LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus; 9-1-1 assist call; ESC; Electronic Roll Mitigation; Blind-spot Monitoring; Rear Cross Path detection; ParkView rear backup camera with dynamic grid lines and 10 standard air bags.

For 2015 the Jeep Cherokee has been upgraded to include; engine stop-start (ESS) technology on models powered by the 3.2-liter V6 engine. Also new for 2015 on Jeep Cherokee is: Forward Collision Warning Plus includes low-speed crash mitigation support, ParkView backup camera and automatic headlamps are now standard features on Latitude and Trailhawk models, New SafetyTec Group available on Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk models, that includes: Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross-Path Detection, ParkSense rear park assist and Signal mirrors with courtesy lamps

If you are interested in comparing the 2015 Jeep Cherokee to every other 2015-1997 SUV you can do that right here on, and if you can't find the specs or information you are looking for here, try it's just a mouse click away (ain't the Internet Grand!).

No matter what your attitude, the Jeep Cherokee will serve you well, whether in the city or out in the country. The Cherokee is one of the top SUVs to consider if you are shopping for a new family hauler that can take you safely and comfortably to virtually any latitude.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Introduction at 2013 NY Auto Show

For 50 More Jeep Videos Go To TACH-TV

Larry Nutson