The New 2014 Jeep Cherokee Review
Aaron Young, who works in the sales department at our Jeep store in Manchester, IA recently put together an honest review (see below) of the all new Jeep Cherokee. There were quite a few Jeep fans out there who were excited about Chrysler bringing back the Cherokee name plate, but when the new version of this American icon was revealed, it shocked and surprised many folks (Aaron included). Aaron’s initial view of the vehicle was sheer disgust and I would guess that he wasn’t alone in his thinking. Eventually though, his opinion began to evolve to the point where he was actually able to experience the 2014 Cherokee first hand and discover it has a multitude of positive attributes.
By Aaron Young 11-15-13: Well it’s here, the all new 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Honestly when I saw the first photo of one I threw up a little in my mouth. I cringed at reading it will have IFS all the way around, a 4 cylinder comes standard and a host of technological goodies. I seriously wanted to go drive to Jeep headquarters and kick some butt for this. You see I’m biased, VERY biased because the Jeep Cherokee used to be this boxy, simple, full solid axle, BASIC rig. Not only that but I built a business manufacturing offroad products for the Cherokee for over 15 years. Biased? Oh you betcha!
Ok so fast forward to the present, when the first ones came in and I had a chance to look over a Cherokee Trailhawk and take it for a drive. I cleared my mind of the disgust and looked at it objectively, knowing this is going to compete with the smaller SUV market. I immediately noticed a few things.
■It actually has approach and departure angles. Unlike most every other SUV in it’s class, it actually does have ground clearance.
■Trailhawk has a low range, rock,sand/snow/mud modes, PLUS a rear locker? Wow, I don’t know offhand what other small SUV has that in it’s class.
■Inside it feels spacious, the materials used feel really nice and the layout and quality of workmanship is definitely up to the Jeep name. Simple yet refined.
■Performance, I drove the V6 model and have to say it impressed me. Plenty of power, very smooth and wasn’t choppy at all for a short wheel base.
■Safety…wow, airbags everywhere. Sides, curtains, multi-stage up front with knee air bags, rear occupants…
■Technology, is available with a wide range of features from collision warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, even wireless cell phone charging.
So as I was driving it I thought, “why couldn’t Jeep just have re-designed the old Cherokee? A 4-door solid axle, basic rig that fills the need of both family vehicle and capable offroader?” Then I caught what I just said and realized, they did already with the Jeep Unlimited Wrangler. For all of you Cherokee fans such as myself, think about it for a moment. If Jeep had actually carried over the Cherokee’s simplicity and function, they would have built nothing more than a non-removable top Wrangler with a different front end. Would have been pointless and more importantly, would have flopped.
The fact is Jeep needs to keep up with the times. And while the Compass and Patriot really fell behind in keeping the Jeep name as neither were capable of anything offroad. The new Cherokee is at least equipped with some really nice features making it more offroad capable than every SUV in it’s class. In fact looking at it’s competition (including Ford), it really offers a lot more for the same and LESS $$. Too many of these smaller SUV’s are priced out of many people’s budgets, but you can configure new Cherokee with some nice equipment for thousands less. So in a way, it’s retaining the ability to be simple.
So in summary, would I buy one? If I were in the market for a smaller SUV…..absolutely would. It may be a grocery getter in terms of the old Cherokee, but it’s about compromise. Good gas mileage, nice ride, features that would make me happy like heated seats, heated steering wheel, nice sound system, easy to navigate touchscreen….plus having the offroad features like the low range, rear locker, hill ascent and decent control…I absolutely would buy one, but it would have to be a Trailhawk!