For the few of you who still may not know, the Jeep Cherokee is back. Jeep brought the familiar nameplate back to the midsize SUV segment to replace the Liberty model they are showing the door. The 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk rides on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles globally-sourced architecture and features some of the most polarizing design in any new vehicle.
As I quickly found out during my time with the new Cherokee, observers are not afraid of rendering opinions on the new styling. These are some of the most extreme opinions on vehicle design I have experienced in my years of reviewing new vehicles, from true passion that led to ownership, to almost hostile disdain.
Personally I lean toward the favorable side of the issue, especially after driving the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk edition 4×4 model that graced our test driveway. Trailhawk is Jeep taking a base Cherokee and slapping on all the goodies a serious enthusiast would add to their ride and offering it from the factory. These items include unique front and rear fascia, one-inch lift, Jeep Active Drive Lock with locking rear diff, skid plates and standout red tow hooks. Trailhawk also gets a unique exterior appearance package.
I am getting ahead of myself here, so let’s take a look at the basic 2014 Cherokee architecture. Jeep delivers Cherokee on a platform shared with the Dodge Dart and all-new Chrysler 200. It arrives in front- or four-wheel drive configurations and features the new corporate nine-speed automatic transmission. Cherokee is powered by the global 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir 2 I-4 engine (delivering 184hp and 171 lb. ft. of torque in this application) or the new 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6 at 271hp and 239 lb. ft. of torque. I was surprised our tester arrived with the four-cylinder engine that saw a paltry 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway on this 4×4.
Jeep gives Cherokee an all-new front independent MacPherson strut suspension and new rear independent multi-link suspension. Cherokee features electronic power steering system that is tuned for optimal steering effort at all speeds.
The 2014 Cherokee seats up to five adults and features all the latest automotive technologies including color 7-inch reconfigurable TFT instrument cluster, Uconnect 8.4-inch color touchscreen media center, new parallel/perpendicular part assist, fold-flat front passenger seat and 60/40-split folding second row seating, Jeep cargo management system and all-new CommandView panoramic sunroof and Sky Slider roof.
While my time with the new Trailhawk did not allow for any serious offroading adventures, I am fully confident in the automaker applying its Jeep Trail Rated hardware and seal of approval including the Selec-Terrain traction control system and Active Drive Lock technology.
For urban adventurists, the new Cherokee, even in full Trailhawk 4×4 regalia, is quite comfortable and quiet around town, almost surprisingly so. The chassis is solid and the ride compliant. Pricing for the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 4×4 begins at $29,495 with this loaded tester arriving at $36,820.
I was pleasantly surprised with the new Cherokee and feel it more than capable of replacing the Liberty. I am happy to see it back in the Jeep lineup where it rightfully belongs.