The 2014 Jeep Cherokee marks the return of a classic Jeep nameplate which has been missing from their model line-up since 2001. Originally, Jeep Cherokees were relatively no-frills off-road vehicles that focused more on function over fashion. However, the model quickly evolved in the 1990s to become one of the most popular mid-sized SUV’s for both families and off-road enthusiasts. Growing up, my father had a white coloured 1991 Jeep Cherokee Laredo. I have such fond memories of that truck as I first learned to drive on it and it was a beloved chariot on a father-son mountain biking adventure to Mt. Snow, Vermont.
Compared to Cherokees of the past, the 2014 model is totally unique as it has been designed from the ground up leveraging the shared platform architecture of the Dodge Dart. While it still provides an adequate level of all-terrain ability for an SUV, this new Jeep Cherokee’s bigger mark is its spacious and well-appointed cabin, smooth ride and powerful V6.
Our tester came in the North 4×4 trim model paired with the beefy Pentastar six-cylinder used in the Grand Cherokee. This 3.2-liter V6 engine makes an impressive 271 horsepower and delivers it ponies in a refined manner via an all-new nine-speed automatic transmission. The nine-speed automatic is also included with the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Although on paper, the four-cylinder makes competitive power for this class, based on the Cherokee’s curb weight the V6 is the best option if you want increased power and towing capacity.
Both engines are available with front-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive configurations. Jeep is actually offering two 4WD systems with the Active Drive I designed as your basic light-duty 4WD system (basically what most consumers think of as all-wheel drive), and it’s just fine if you merely need a little extra traction in winter snowstorms. While next up is Active Drive II, which adds low-range gearing and is aimed at Cherokee buyers expecting to venture farther off the beaten path. Although it’s nice to have that go-almost-anywhere capability when you need it, the reality is most consumers will likely make more use out of its variety of tech features. With an 8.4-inch touchscreen interface available in most models, and an optional safety package that bundles forward collision, lane departure and blind-spot warning systems with automatic high-beam control, adaptive cruise control and an automated parallel and perpendicular parking system this truck is serious about safety and convenience. In fact, this 2014 model is the first Cherokee that will park itself which is a bonus feature in this segment.
As for pricing here’s the story – the Cherokee sits smack in the middle of the pack in its small to mid-sized CUV/SUV segment. The only significant options our model lacked was leather seating and a moonroof.
- Base price: $28,695 (North 4×4 model)
- Price as Tested: $34,955 CDN
After spending a week behind the wheel in all types of road conditions from summer thunderstorms to traffic in scorching heat we can say the Cherokee model is 100% worth a look if you’re shopping for a small SUV. It provides a ton of value with its stellar drive train and new design features while also bringing back the fun and youthful spirit of the iconic Cherokee nameplate.
As for competitors, today’s small crossover SUV segment is crowded with a field of strong models including the Ford Escape, Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda CR-V, and Mazda CX-5. But one last thing to keep in mind is the Jeep Cherokee has its own personality and that you cannot say about every model.