Join me as I take a look at the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
The Cherokee’s styling has proved polarizing to say the least. Chrysler of course has a history of creating love it or hate it designs and I for one am glad to see them take a chance with the Cherokee even though it’s not my cup of tea. I admit that the CUV looks better in person than in photos, but it still haven’t warmed up to the bent 7-slot grille. What sends most people for a loop however is the lighting arrangement. The thin and raked light modules nest the hood are the daytime running lamps and the turn signals, not the headlamps. You’ll find the headlamps in the middle of the bumper cover behind a smoked plastic lens. Further down the front re the fog lights. I think that’s the problem with the cherokee’s front for me, I can’t think of another car that separates these three lamps this far apart. Even the Lexus IS looks a little funny with the DRLs divorced from the headlamps.
While the Grand Cherokee continues it’s mission as the “American Range Rover” anyone looking for the Cherokee to be the “American Evoque” is likely to be disappointed. Still the Cherokees interior is class leading in many ways with more soft touch plastics than you’ll find in the Mazda, Toyota or Honda competition. Once again styling is a subjective matter but I found the interior to be attractive despite being slightly untraditional. Chrysler fitted the Grand Cherokee’s chunky steering wheel and retains the optional leather wrap and heated functionality while ditching the GC’s paddle shifters. Oddly Jeep opted for a traditional shifter rather than the Audiesque lever in the GC or the Jaguar-like shift knob in the Dodge line.
The wide front seats are deeply padded, supportive and easily the best in the compact across over segment in terms of comfort. Thankfully the seat engineers have ditched the oddly “dome shaped” seat bottom cushion found in some other Chrysler products allowing you to sit “in” the Cherokees seats, not “on” them. Most Cherokee models get a fold-flat front passenger seat improving cargo versatility but that option is incompatible with the ventilated front seats and four-way power lumbar support for the front passenger. That’s an area where the Cherokee sets itself apart from the competition as most compact crossovers skimp on passenger seat adjustability.
If a crossover is supposed to be a cross between a family sedan and an SUV, then the Cherokee is the truest crossover you can buy. Trouble is, most RAV-4 and CR-V shoppers are really just looking for the modern station wagon: something with a big cargo hold and car-like manners. In this area the Cherokee comes up short. It’s big, heavy and drives Ike it is big and heavy. But it’s not without its charms, the Cherokee is the only compact crossover that is capable of the school run and the Rubicon trail. It’s also the quietest and most comfortable crossover and if you’re willing to pay, it’s the one loaded with the most gadgets and goodies.
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