In what appears to be an attempt to pursue new markets, the newly revived 4th-edition Jeep Cherokee has undergone an extensive facelift for 2014.
At the recent New York Auto Show, Chrysler debuted what's become a controversial and polarizing design. No longer looking rugged and utilitarian, the new design makes the SUV nearly unrecognizable as a Jeep.
Taking off road to the streets, Jeep has taken it's rugged sturdiness and put a pretty face on it, making it more competitive in the hot mid size SUV segment, where vehicles get more stroller action than dirt roads.
The off-roading abilities are still there, making the Cherokee likely the family vehicle that hauls everyone to the cottage, or serve as a dual purpose vehicle between job site and suburban family duty. Jeep calls it a capable off road vehicle that also performs well on pavement. In reality, while consumers like the idea of a rough & tough truck that will keep their family safe and manoeuvre through all situations, other factors such as fuel efficiency and car-like drivability rank higher on their list of priorities. The new Cherokee offers the best of both worlds- off road capabilities while still being city driving friendly.
The 2014 Jeep Cherokee's new aerodynamic design replaces the Jeep's boxy look. Gone are the traditional Jeep grille and signature round headlights. The new look will win it some new buyers, but may cause Jeep to lose some old fans. The company says that it's true to Jeep, but now may be more appealing to those who are considering import brands.
More importantly, the 2014 Cherokee is equipped with some pretty impressive hardware. Three different four-wheel-drive systems are available. Borrowing from big brother Grand Cherokee, the Selec-Terrain dial will be packaged, allowing drivers to optimize the vehicle's systems for driving through snow, mud and rock. Improving performance and fuel economy, this SUV has a nine speed transmission as well as rear-axel disconnect technology.
It will be the first to utilize Chrysler's new 3.2L Pentastar V6 engine which is replacing their current 3.6L unit. The new engine offers 271 HP and 239 pounds of torque while getting 30% better fuel economy than it's predecessor which was found in the Jeep Liberty. The new Cherokee will get up to 31 MPG on the highway.
Inside, we can expect a well done cabin complete with high quality trim and materials, a full connectivity suite and multimedia. Safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning functionality and a self-parking system that handles both parallel and perpendicular parking tasks.
Range of trims include Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk and Limited. The Trailhawk will be the only model in it's segment to sport a "Trail Rated" badge. It's Jeep's seal of approval given to vehicles that meet minimum standards in off-road tests and challenging road conditions that include fording water.
The Cherokee is built on a system of modular, common and interchangeable components. Chrysler says that this will result in better quality and reliability, as well as lower expenses, less development time and retooling. It's being built at Chrysler's $1.7 billion Toledo Assembly Complex, one of the most advanced and flexible car manufacturing plants in North America.
First built by American Motors Corp. in 1974, the Jeep Cherokee was replaced in 2002 by the smaller and cheaper Jeep Liberty. Sales initially surged to record levels, but have dropped significantly in recent years as the mid size SUV market got more crowded. Last year Honda's CR-V outsold the Liberty by more than three to one. Expect to see the modern Jeep Cherokee hit showrooms later this summer.
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca