2014 Jeep Cherokee First Drive Review

today we’re out here with the 2014 Jeep Cherokee to answer two important questions can the Cherokee compete head-on with the likes of the Toyota rav4 and the Honda CRV and can its way traditional Jeep buyers that are still upset that the Cherokee was cancelled when the Liberty was introduced let’s just talk about the elephant in the room right away and that’s the front end
styling in the Cherokee this is probably

the most adventurous thing that Chrysler
and Jeep have ever penned pretty much everybody else in the compact crossover segment is just a little bit boring and this is definitely not boring thought-provoking i opening you know worthy of argument definitely but certainly not boring up here we have our daytime running lamps and our turn signal module that’s proud of what makes this design very different from everybody else out on the road because the headlamps are down here they’re not high on the front end of the vehicle here we have our fog lamps and over here
we have the radar sensor if your

Cherokee is so equipped the Cherokee
still sports the traditional Jeep grille but it is formatted fairly differently from every other Jeep it has this really severe kink right here in the middle of the grille that is kind of an interesting touch I think that overall it looks much better in person than it does in photos so be sure and comment in the comments section down below and let me know what you think especially if you’ve seen a Cherokee in person let me know how that looked it’s obvious when you take a look at the tires and wheels that Jeep still has off-roading in mind for the Cherokee even though these are 18 inch wheels they’re shot in 225 60 series rubber which means that the high profile tire is better able to protect the rim against on and off road dangers
there are two different engine options

in every trim level of the Cherokee
things start out with a 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine it produces 184 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque that’s fairly similar to the four-cylinder engines you’ll find in the majority of the competition you can optionally upgrade to this 3.2 liter v6 engine this is a brand new engine for Chrysler it’s based off of their award-winning 3.6 liter Pentastar engine it produces 271 horsepower and 239 pound feet of torque this is a $1,495 option on every trim level of Cherokee in international markets you can also get a 2 liter turbo diesel engine but they haven’t really told us whether that will come to America all these engines are mated to a ZF nine speed front-wheel drive transaxle this is the world’s first nine-speed transmission and the

world’s first nine-speed trans axle both

Chrysler has beat Land Rover and Range Rover to the nine speed market by just a little bit this transmission will also be found under the new Range Rover Evoque coming very soon there are three different all-wheel drive systems available in the Cherokee the first two are optional and the last one is standard on the trailhawk model the first one is the most basic of the systems and it’s available on that sport model for $2000 that system is pretty typical to most crossover vehicles and it simply disconnects or connects the rear axle to the system the second one adds a low-range gearbox that can be found in the latitude and the limited models and this is a true low-range gearbox with a 56 to 1 low range ratio this means that the drivetrain set up in the latitude limited and the all-wheel drive version of the trailhawk is much more similar to

more traditional off-road vehicles with

a longitudinal engine layout and transmission layout in them because power goes from the engine to the transfer case and then to the differentials which is very unlike every other transverse crossover out there on the market the trailhawk model then augments that with a limited-slip locking rear differential which is a huge improvement yet again versus any other crossover in this segment that means that the trailhawk version is just about as capable as the Liberty that it replaces in every situation other than where you might want a solid axle fret see comfort is easily the best in this segment our limited model has a multi-way power adjustable driver’s seat that does have a two-position memory control on the front door we also have a four-way adjustable power lumbar support
which moves in and out as well as up and

down on the seat making it a lot easier

to find your ideal driving position in the seat our limited models throne is also covered in nice soft leather this is probably the best leather that’s available in this segment as well we also have a tilt telescoping steering column with a decent range of motion but keep in mind that this passenger seat remains a six-way manual seat and all models of the cherokee still nothing to really complain about because basically nobody else in this segment does an optional power passenger seat the first thing I noticed about the rear seats in the cherokee is how much higher there are off the ground as well as off the floor in the cherokee then in competing crossover vehicles this means that sitting back here is an awful lot more comfortable for adults because you get a lot more thigh support this fret seats adjusted for me at 6 feet tall driving the car you can see I have a few inches of legroom left but
it’s by no means class-leading

if I move over to the middle seat there
really isn’t a terribly pronounced hump in the Cherokee thanks to the drivetrain layout in this vehicle which means that sitting in the middle seat I can still have a decent number of inches of headroom this was a little bit of legroom left moving over to this far-right seat this was all the way back in its tracks suitable for a six foot five passenger we just had in the cherokee my knees are touching that seat back so that is something to keep in mind the rear seats fold in a 60/40 folding fashion we do have a center armrest with decent cupholders there as well if we fold this rear seat down you can see that it’s level with the cargo floor but that is an awful lot higher
off the ground then a number of other

competitors most notably that rav4 which
has a very very low load floor let’s take a look around the interior of the new Cherokee these are unique seat designs to the Cherokee they are more heavily bolstered than you might expect in a compact crossover vehicle I found them very comfortable for my average shape that if you’re a larger person then your mileage may vary we have soft touch door appointments as well as soft touch – parts scooting across the dashboard our limited model also has some faux stitching going on up here we have a small storage cubby above the radio display this vehicle does use the latest in UConnect 8.4 inch systems from Chrysler we’ll go over that in a separate  we have our parking assist system this will parallel park or perpendicular Park the car for you regular parking sensors lane departure warning no lane departure prevention in the Cherokee and this is forward collision warning over there down below that we have our typical Chrysler and Jeep climate controls as well as radio controls some redundant buttons can also select most of those systems on the screen this is our terrain select knob for our all-wheel drive system it is slightly different if you do have the two-speed transfer case in your Cherokee automatic transmission shifter right here electric parking
brake – large cup holders and a very

comfortable center armrest that has a
decent capacity this is where you’ll also find the USB inputs in addition to those USB inputs there right below the climate controls are Cherokee does have this optional LCD between the tachometer and speedometer be sure to check back with us and we get our hands on one for a full review and we’ll go into that in more detail this series of buttons right here controls that multi-information LCD we have our phone buttons over here our cruise control buttons right here and because our model has the optional radar cruise control we have those buttons right there the steering wheel is very comfortable it’s also very large and it is shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee it’s a very nice feature on this particular small crossover moving over to the left side of the steering wheel we have our headlight controls dimmers and then we have our usual Bank of window switches and door lock buttons out on the road the Cherokee handles very well for compact crossover vehicle but if crossover handling is really the thing you’re after then you should look at the Mazda cx-5 because it is by far the best

handling and best feeling crossover

vehicle on the market right now that’s not to say that the Cherokee gives up that much but then again neither to the CRV or the rav4 or the Ford Escape the Cherokee really handles very much like those other competitors in a segment with just a little bit more body roll thanks to these higher profile tires but overall it’s a very good compromise between on-road and off-road performance what’s very different about the Cherokee however is this 9 speed automatic transmission now we are driving a early production cherokee so they’ve told us that some of the transmission tuning is going to be changed for the final version so be sure and watch for a second when we get our hands on a production cherokee but in this pre-production or sorry early production model the shifts come hard and fast it reminds me like something like a machine gun firing off shifts goes from 1 through 9 very very quickly sometimes a little bit more quickly than I’d like they’re definitely a lot of gears for this transmission to choose from and perhaps that’s part of what’s going on
the feel out on the road is very

different than the competition primarily
because of this 9 speed automatic transmission keep in mind that this transmission has 50% more gears in the competition but also keep in mind that we’re testing a very early production version of the software this transmission and Chrysler has deliberately held up production the Cherokees to fine tune the software a little bit more and we haven’t been able to test that yet so be sure and check back with us when we get our hands on the production version of the Cherokee with its production transmission software so we can tell you how that feels but out on the road having all these gears to choose from does mean that this car is doing a lot of gear changing a lot of gear hunting both upwards and downwards in the gear range we’re just you know driving out on this road that’s not changing topography too much out here and this transmission is up shifting and down shifting quite frequently in the hunt of fuel economy fuel economy is really the reason for the 9 speed automatic transmission by having in theory a perfect gear ratio available at
all times over a wider variety of speeds

you can improve your overall fuel
economy that helps the Cherokee get decent fuel economy up to 31 miles per gallon in the base form 2 wheel drive which is a decent amount of fuel economy a decent amount of MPGs for a vehicle that weighs almost 4000 pounds that weight is something to keep in mind because the Cherokee does weigh a decent amount more than the Mazda cx-5 or a number for the other high mile per gallon competitors in this segment so you can think that 9 speed automatic for the fuel economy but on the flip side it delivers an unusual driving experience I wouldn’t exactly call the driving experience bad it’s just very different than a 6-speed automatic something that you’ll probably get used to but you may notice a lot of complaints in different reviews about this transmission fuel economy is not the only reason to have a nine-speed automatic performance also benefits greatly from this transmission we ran from zero to 60 in seven point seven seconds in this Cherokee even though it weighs over 4,200 pounds in this limited all-wheel drive version that’s not too
far off of the more powerful v6 Grand

Cherokee with its rear-wheel drive
layout and its 8-speed ZF automatic transmission fairly respectable number another thing to keep in mind is that the power delivery in this engine and transmission combo is very linear because the engine revs up to a fairly reasonable power band and then just sort of hangs out there as the transmission shifts gears means that the power delivery is a decent amount smoother than you’d experience in a five or a six speed front-wheel drive transaxle on the flip side that peculiar behavior comes out again because as soon as you’re done accelerating this transmission is extraordinarily eager to upshift and it just clicks off the gears right as soon as you’ve let off the accelerator pedal which is a very unusual and somewhat peculiar feeling among compact crossover vehicles none of the other entries in this segment really do that the four-cylinder version of the cherokee is a little bit rougher around the edges than the 6-cylinder model it’s also slower 260 about 2 seconds slower or so putting it right in line with the 4-cylinder Honda CRV as well as the four-cylinder Toyota rav4 the four-cylinder engine and the nine speed transmission however seem to be a slightly better combo with one another than this 3.2 liter v6 do keep in mind again as I said that Chrysler has not finished tuning the software in this v6 so final impressions may vary be sure to check back with us for a different on that in the coming few months and we

get our hands on a final version but at this point in time the 2.4 liter engine and the 9 speed automatic transmission combo don’t seem to hunt for gears quite as frequently as this v6 again a lot of that may be programming we haven’t had the Cherokee in our regular driving cycle so it’s very difficult to comment on fuel economy instead I would just refer you over to fuel economy gov so you can check out the expected fuel economy rankings for the 2014 Cherokee the Cherokee starts at $22,995 for the sport model the latitude model kicks that up to 24,000 495 and the limited is 27 $995 the limited model is the one that we’re taking a look at right now all wheel drive will add about two thousand dollars to each of those vehicles if that’s something that you want to choose and getting that v6 is a little bit extra as well the trailhawk model starts twenty nine thousand four hundred ninety five dollars and it does include that standard four-wheel drive system the twenty fourteen Cherokee is the most exciting thing to happen to the compact crossover segment in living memory this is the first crossover vehicle that truly gives you on-road and off-road performance as you would expect from a traditional vehicle as well as an off-road focused vehicle it’s the only compact crossover to offer you rear axle disconnect a locking rear axle and most importantly a low-range gearbox that’s before we even talk about the new
9-speed automatic transmission as a

result it’s almost impossible to compare

the cherokee directly with anything else in this crossover segment because everything else in the crossover segment is very focused to on-road ability or fuel economy and this is the first vehicle that somehow has attacked all those fronts we have all those offered features but we still have a 31 mile per gallon rating in the two-wheel drive model if you offer the all-wheel drive model even with the trailhawk version you still get about 25 miles per gallon on the highway which is a considerable improvement over anything that’s dedicated off-road on the market right now and even in that trailhawk model you still get decent on-road performance thanks to the relatively low weight of this chassis the low curb weight combined with a low center of gravity is what’s important about this vehicle that’s all done because of its unibody frame rather than the Box on frame designs of previous versions of off-road vehicles I wouldn’t consider this as durable as a Liberty I wouldn’t consider it as durable as the old cherokee either but when you compare it to anything else out on the market right now it’s 10 or 15 times more durable and more capable off-road when you compare it to something like a toda rav4 that just has a locking center coupling it’s probably the most capable crossover vehicle before you consider this Cherokee and this Cherokee

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