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The new Jeep Cherokee gets official

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April 1, 2013

The 2014 Jeep Cherokee debuts at the New York auto show

The 2014 Jeep Cherokee debuts at the New York auto show

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After more than a decade, the Jeep Liberty has announced its retirement and appointed its predecessor its successor. The new 2014 Jeep Cherokee trades the hard-lined edge of the XJ for a more consumer-friendly small-crossover design. Jeep promises that it offers plenty of capability for those that want it but in a more refined, practical package than ever before.

To Cherokee, or not to Cherokee

When we first flashed a glimpse at the new Cherokee, the feedback was overwhelmingly negative. Nicer commenters opined that it wasn't really a proper Cherokee, while less-kind souls went so far as to call it "Pontiac Aztec-like" in terms of failed designs. It's fair to say that there was some objection to this being a new Jeep, let alone a new Cherokee.

Jeep Chief Designer Mark Allen recognizes the early negativity and does about all he can with it: spins it into a positive.

"I get the sensitivity; I have one of those [Jeep Cherokee XJs] and I love it, I understand it," Allen told us. "But it's no longer a modern vehicle. The Cherokee is a name that we own, we're very proud of that. I'm glad we called this Cherokee; there was a lot of internal debate, should we or not, and I'm glad we did. Really what that [negative reaction] is is passion for our vehicles."

"Give this thing a chance," Allen implored Jeep fans and car buyers, explaining that even the iconic XJ had a fair share of detractors when it lost some of the box look during its 1996 facelift. While the new design may look softer than XJ lovers would like, the curvier build adds aerodynamics and efficiency.

Heritage redefined

Unlike during last month's teaser, Jeep has provided the information that folks will need to give the Cherokee revival a chance – or further detest it and write it off completely, as the case may be. The manufacturer is certainly mindful of the fact that the new design could create an uproar with Jeep traditionalists, and it has done its best to steep the new model in heritage while creating a modern look.

"It's not a box. We weren't going to build a box," Allen said. "It's a much faster, windswept vehicle, much more aerodynamically efficient."

The design takes on a much newer and more modern interpretation of Jeep. The grille and hood are a single piece, "ensuring a precise build" in Jeep vernacular. The lights are broken up into three pieces, helping Jeep eliminate the corner of the vehicle and create a smoother, more windswept front-end. Similarly, the raked windshield keeps air flowing easy.

The creased grille

Though the overall look is all new, a number of elements have been injected with a dose of Jeep DNA. Even the new Cherokee's most renegade feature – the creased grille – carries tradition. All Jeep fanatics will recognize the seven slots, but the crease (or "horizontal snap," as Jeep refers to it) is also a throwback to older Cherokees, which featured a crease in their grilles, albeit a much subtler line. Allen said that the trapezoidal wheel arches turn the playbook back even further – all the way back to the original 1941 Willys Jeeps.

Jeep uses a new three-part light design

Get down and dirty

Unlike modern-era crossovers, the original Jeep Cherokee had a reputation for off-road competence and performance. And just because the new Cherokee looks like a modern-era crossover, doesn't mean it cedes over all that performance. Jeep wants the Cherokee to appeal to the Little League-chauffeuring, mall-cruising mom crowd that's driving the crossover market but remain relevant to the dust-chucking Moab weekend set that embraced the original.

The 2014 Cherokee may share the Fiat Group's Compact U.S. Wide architecture with the likes of the Dodge Dart, but it received upgrades based around off-road capability. It employs an aggressive stance, rugged lower body protection, and aggressive approach and departure angles that set it up for off-road success.

Jeep says that it tested the Trailhawk on the famous Rubicon Trail

The 2014 Cherokee comes out of the gate with a trail-rated Trailhawk package option. The Trailhawk turns up the off-road performance with a one-inch (2.5-cm) factory lift (to 8.7 inches/22 cm), skid plates, signature red tow hooks, and Jeep Active Drive Lock 4x4 with locking rear differential. The differential lock works automatically in some modes, such as "Rock," and is available to the driver in any low-range terrain mode.

Stay clean

Jeep made sure not to abandon off-roaders, but it recognizes that many Cherokee owners will never leave the pavement. In today's crossover market, the Cherokee has to work well on the street. In addition to the Trailhawk package, Jeep offers three road-oriented packages: Latitude, Limited and Sport.

The 2014 Cherokee has plenty of benefits for road-only drivers, in addition to off-roadies. Those benefits start with the one that's foremost on most drivers' minds: fuel economy. With the 184-hp 2.4-liter Tigershark Multi-Air 2 I-4 engine and standard-across-all-models nine-speed automatic transmission, the 2014 Cherokee offers a 45 percent fuel economy increase over the outgoing Liberty – up to an estimated 31 mpg (7.6 l/100km) highway and 500 miles (805 km) of range per tank. The I-4 puts out 171 lb-ft (232 Nm) of torque.

Those looking for more power and torque can opt for the new 3.2-liter Pentastar V6, which puts out 271-hp and 239 lb-ft (324 Nm) of torque and tows up to 4,500 pounds (2,040 kg).

Those engines can send power to two or four wheels through a 4x2 option or one of three 4x4 options. The Active Drive I 4x4 system has an automatic power transfer unit that requires no driver input and seamlessly transfers in and out of 4WD. The Active Drive II doesn't include a locking differential, like the Active Drive Lock, but it does share other attributes, including a two-speed PTU with torque management and low range and a 2.92:1 gear reduction. The Cherokee's rear-axle disconnect decreases energy loss and improves fuel economy when 4x4 is not needed. Select-Terrain traction control tweaks vehicle settings to five different modes: Auto, Snow, Sport Sand/Mud and Rock.

The new electronic power steering system contributes to the Cherokee's fuel economy, and a chassis with MacPherson front independent suspension and a new rear independent multi-link provides for a smooth, quiet ride and sure handling.

The Cherokee's more than 70 available safety and security features include ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus, Forward Collision Warning-Plus, and Lane Departure Warning-Plus, all new to the Chrysler family; 9-1-1 assist call; electronic stability control; blind-spot monitoring; rear cross path detection; and ParkView rear backup camera. The radar- and video-based Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus system can bring the car to a stop on its own if necessary, and the camera-based Lane Departure Warning-Plus system delivers a jolt of torque to the steering system to warn of unintended lane drifts.

The available 'Sky Slider' roof is a full-length canvas soft top

Moving on to the little luxuries, Jeep offers two open-air options in addition to the standard hard top. An interesting option available to Cherokee buyers is the all-new Sky Slider full-length soft canvas roof. A more traditional glass sunroof is the other option.

Step inside

Jeep worked to design a driver-focused interior with influence from around the world. It provides a comfortable feel with premium-touch materials on places where the occupants contact the vehicle – armrests, door uppers, etc. The seats are trimmed in cloth or Nappa leather and available with heating, ventilation and power adjustment.

Four Cherokee packages will be offered: Limited, Sport, Latitude and Trailhawk

The Cherokee comes standard with a 5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and an 8.4-inch touchscreen system is available as an option. The 8.4-inch system offers Chrysler Uconnect Access infotainment, which can be controlled through the touchscreen, physical controls on the center stack, or voice command. Uconnect Access includes apps like Pandora and iHeartRadio, Bluetooth connectivity, SiriusXM Radio, and voice-to-text messaging.

The digital instrument cluster is driver configurable and includes an off-road configuration. Other information available on the cluster includes turn-by-turn navigation, speed, real-time fuel economy, safety and audio information.

In terms of cargo, the Cherokee is equipped with what Jeep terms a Cargo Management System, which includes a universal module rack in the rear cargo area. The 60/40 split-folding second row seats adjust forward and backward for comfort and cargo space. The front passenger seat folds flat and includes an in-seat storage compartment. Cherokee accessories to be available from Mopar include a Trailhawk off-road kit with tow rope and other accessories, a cargo bin, a folding cooler and a first aid/emergency kit.

Rolling forward

LED tail lamps provide a focal point of the rear fascia

Jeep introduced the 2014 Cherokee at the New York International Auto Show and also brought a Trailhawk to the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, along with a half-dozen new concepts. Cherokee production will start later this year at Chrysler's Toledo, Ohio Assembly Plant. Deliveries will begin in the third quarter and pricing has yet to be announced.

For those worried that the "small crossover treatment" might migrate from the Cherokee to the Wrangler, Jeep reassured NY goers several times that the Wrangler will continue to be the Wrangler.

If Jeep's words and photos don't convince you that the new Cherokee is as rugged and off-road-ready as ever, perhaps the POV video below will do it.

Source: Chrysler

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.   All articles by C.C. Weiss
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24 Comments

Just as I thought a Jeep could not possibly look any worse than the Commander, the Patriot or the Compass, Jeep serves up a new Subaru Tribeca moment.

Verkligheten Sverige
1st April, 2013 @ 02:48 pm PDT

@Verkligheten Sverige - It's a Jeep. If you worry about looks, you're doing it wrong.

AngryPenguin
1st April, 2013 @ 03:43 pm PDT

no matter how new and innovative if it's got ugly face like that,

your execution failed as a chief designer....

Look at the size of headlamp compared to massive front volume.

and when you see the front and side, they do not match each other as

two diffenent animals, ugly and filthy wild boar and dull and quiet soccer-mom.

Bandarilla
1st April, 2013 @ 05:11 pm PDT

Well, just ugly is all. Congrats to Jeep for getting it wrong.

Mark L. McLain
1st April, 2013 @ 06:07 pm PDT

Maybe they should just replace the standard swing rear doors with sliders and call it a mini-van.

Rt1583
1st April, 2013 @ 07:56 pm PDT

well three people above got it right, sorry AngryPenguin, BUT now days Jeep is supposed to be a sophisticated marque, not something with a canvas top and an add on roll bar, the head lights sure clash with the Aux lights, the rear is horrible, Fugly vehicle

Bill Bennett
1st April, 2013 @ 08:33 pm PDT

Hmmm, , I've yet think of Jeeps as being a thing of beauty. As a matter of fact "Jeep" in Latin means ugly, durable vehicle. Even most Latin scholars are not aware of that fact!

Keepagrinnen

Electrothump
1st April, 2013 @ 09:17 pm PDT

I think it is very brave off Jeep to come up with something so entirely new - love it! I wish people were more open to change, It is appalling as a car designer to see just how fundamentally conservative the general public is. Open your mind for crying out load...

Niklas Wejedal
2nd April, 2013 @ 02:25 am PDT

well, well, well ... let me tell you ... this very ford-ish look is somehow a sad step in the wrong direction. I understand that us-car builders slept theit way on the couch of dreaming the american superiority dream ... and suddenly realized ... that its only true in terms of military power ... may be not much longer ... stick with your roots, and remember what made u strong. it has more to do with CORPORATE PHILOSOPHY then it does have with DESIGN. The Europeans have allways been better at that anyway ...

rock4rd
2nd April, 2013 @ 04:03 am PDT

Ah looks like they went with the Judge Dread flying cab look.... http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01425/city-cab-judge-dre_1425471i.jpg

Beisswenger Design
2nd April, 2013 @ 09:07 am PDT

I have owned two XJ Cherokees and loved them, not for their looks but for their uncompromising performance. This thing looks like some Asian crap minivan "crossover." It's the same thing Ford did with the Escape: take a decent-looking, well-performing SUV and make it into something Mom will love. Jeep, you're losing touch.

Clay Jones
2nd April, 2013 @ 09:27 am PDT

A Jeep can be ugly and still be a Jeep. Sometimes they just take a little getting used to. Actually, this one calls to mind the old Eagle AWD wagons--not a bad thing in my book. And that's coming from someone who still drives an XJ.

However, it will take many years of successful hard use to convince me that a FWD Cherokee can do the utility job. That's a major faux pas. I'm wary of the fancy-pants transfer case too. A simple selectable 2WD/4WD open center differential (plus low range) with Torsen-style front and rear differentials is all the traction control anyone could need, and it's pretty much bullet proof. Anything more heavy-duty is for rock crawlers, while anything more complicated is just a liability for the warranty.

justme70
2nd April, 2013 @ 09:42 am PDT

Sorry, but reading the comments made me want to puke. The new Jeep will sell like crazy and that's the bottom line! It's more main stream, true , safe/conservative design, yes...they need to make money to stay in business and who better to aim the market than the soccer moms and yuppies...so get over it! Jeep does not care about the purists anymore, if they did they'd gone the way of the Dodo!

Gregory Gannotti
2nd April, 2013 @ 03:48 pm PDT

What do you get when you cross a bulldog with a shitsu?

Nairda
2nd April, 2013 @ 04:53 pm PDT

I love it.

I guess its just a matter of taste, that looks modern and if it has on road and off road handling to go with it I think Jeep might have a winner, something to stem the tide of X5's and Audi's running out of showrooms.

Jeep has to attract a larger customer base - I am a Volvo XC60 (T6R) driver and I wouldn't have looked twice at a Jeep until just then...

If you like the old ones, just get a second hand one and do a bit of work on it.

Speedbump Andy
2nd April, 2013 @ 07:25 pm PDT

Jeep made it look like all the other Small SUVs only even uglier. If you are going ugly at least make form follow function.

Slowburn
2nd April, 2013 @ 08:41 pm PDT

Beautiful looking vehicle. What a refreshing change from the old boxes that jeep normally make! At last they have hired an actual car designer instead of giving some guy a ruler and pencil and telling him to get on with it! Just look at the Commander, that ugly monstrosity is for some nitwit who thinks he would look good in a humvee. Most people only drive to the supermarket in the jeeps anyway so why not make one that is more practical and looks infinitely better. If you would rather have a truck then go out and buy one - it is all about giving you choices.

professore
3rd April, 2013 @ 12:59 am PDT

The people hating on "boxes" aren't thinking about what a Jeep is. If me-too styling sold Jeeps, then the Compass would've been a roaring success. Instead, it was outsold by the Patriot which has similar performance but a boxy shape.

Jeeps are utility vehicles. People buy them because they are useful. You can, at least in theory, load up the family and a whole bunch of stuff and get out in the wilderness for the weekend. A boxy shape means higher interior cargo volume and more roof rack space for a given wheelbase length. The towing performance of a rear-wheel drive vehicle lets you perhaps add a camping trailer or a boat.

Believe it or not, an awful lot of Americans really do these things on the weekend, and they are Jeep's "influencer" customers. If the new Cherokee fails the test of utility, then it will fail as a product.

justme70
3rd April, 2013 @ 08:21 am PDT

In general, this has some nice design elements for a crossover and I see some Dodge Dart cues. My question is, why did the Chrysler group feel the need to put this out as a Jeep instead of a Dodge Nitro redesign and get rid of the fugly slotted grill that does not go well with the style chosen. I have to agree with the Jeep purists, mainly because there are 15 other manufacturers making a vehicle like this, and maybe 2 or 3 that make a classic Cherokee/Liberty alternative. I see the point that this is what the general population is buying, but isn't there something to be said about fulfilling a niche market? Let's face it, that's what the majority of Jeep owners are. This is why the Compass and Patriot are relative failures to the big 3 Jeeps.

Jeep needs to replace the Liberty with a vehicle that's a good cross between the size and off-road abilities of a Wrangler and the style and luxury of a Grand Cherokee and it will have a home run on its hands.

Knowledge Thirsty
3rd April, 2013 @ 12:35 pm PDT

Looks like a Fiat interior

Keremz
4th April, 2013 @ 11:59 am PDT

Love the front end. Not so hot on the back. Still, the Cherokee is WAY outdated. It was past time for a change.

Dave Andrews
11th April, 2013 @ 10:07 am PDT

As the proud owner of a 2012 Cherokee "box" I'm not sure how I feel about this. I was pretty happy with Jeep's return to their roots, but this is definitely all Chrysler. I guess the market will speak - perhaps mine is destined to become a design classic!

da5id_
11th April, 2013 @ 10:29 pm PDT

Wow almost beautiful as an AZTEK... maybe better.

Jérôme Dumais
23rd April, 2013 @ 07:48 pm PDT

Well, Jeep is obviously doing it wrong because they completely went with what they thought the masses prefer. They neutered the cherokee and made something that could have any car manufacturers emblem on it. I get that they need to manufacture mom wagons because that is what sells to the masses but they ruined my perception of a jeep with this remake. A part of me died when I saw this release. My question is how did the marketing/design team not survey previous cherokee and jeep owners before releasing a sure failure...

Brian E. Anderson
9th November, 2013 @ 10:13 am PST
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