2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited: What's It Like to Live With?
Read the latest updates in our long-term road test of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Limited as our editors live with this car for a year.
What do you want to know about?
- Front Seat Small-Item Storage
- Over-Sensitive Driver Aids
- Plenty of Cargo Room for a Compact SUV
- Secret Squirrel Seat Storage
- Improving the Uconnect Layout
- Heritage Details
- Fuel Economy Update for July
- I Like Back-Up Cameras
- Can You Tow It Behind a Motorhome?
- Where's the Engine Braking?
- Active Cruise Control Works Well
- Weird Dead Pedal Step
- Performance Testing
- A Small Crossover With an Available V6
- Quiet and Smooth Highway Road Manners
- Backing Up Made Easy
- Distinctive Front-End Styling
- Fuel Economy Update for August
- Child Safety Seat Install
- This Is a Good Vehicle
- Cruise Control Braking and Calibration Ruminations
- The Case for Buying a Cherokee
- Dirty Work
- That's Not a Cherokee
- Haulin' Craft
- Fold-Flat Front Seat Wins
- Fuel Economy Update for September
- 5,000 Miles
- Nice, Clear Gauges
- Proper Plug Placement
- Slow Transitions
- Unnecessary Wood Trim
- Rearview Display Delay
- Mysterious Tire Pressure Monitoring System Error Warning
- Good and Bad Parking Aids
- Fuel Economy Update for November
- Six-Foot Ladder Fit
- Underfloor Storage
- Heated Seat and Steering Wheel
- Carrying the Cocoa
- Bearly Fit
- Smells Like Jeep Spirit
- Rear Seats
- Large Digital Speedometer
- Installing a Rear-Facing Convertible Car Seat in the Center vs. Passenger Side
- Nice To Have a V6 If You Can Swing It
- Tidy Liftgate Opening
- Oregon Road Trip
- Oregon Road Trip Notes
- Road Trip Snow Mode
- Road Trip Cargo Space
- Superior Adaptive Cruise Control
- Oregon Road Trip Oil Change
- Remote Ignition
- 10,000 Miles
- Oregon Road Trip Wrap + Fuel Economy Update
- Phone Pairing Fail
- Lane Keeping Works Well
- Fuel Economy Update for January
- Good Use of Old and New Technology
- Nevada Road Trip, Part 1
- Nevada Road Trip, Part 2
- Nevada Road Trip, Part 3
- Nevada Road Trip, Part 4
- Front Seat Comfort
- Updated Transmission Software
- Rear Air Vent
- 10,000-Mile Service
- Lights Out
- Fuel Economy Update for February
- Seat Agreement
- Can't Get Past The Schnoz
- Radio Replaced
- A Standard-Size Stroller Just Fits
- Fuel Economy Update for March
- Re-Installing the Cargo Cover
- No Major Issues After 15,000 Miles
- How Would Our Crossover Compare Off-Road to the Cherokee Trailhawk?
- Low on Miles But Hitting Fuel Economy Target
- Airbag Software Recall
- Ground Clearance Can't Clear a GoPro
- In the Soup
- Twenty-Four Hours and 1,000 Miles
- Better Than 30 MPG on 1,000-Mile Road Trip
- Fuel Economy Update for May - Big Miles, Big Gains
- Road Trip to Moab, Utah
- A Milestone in Moab Worth Celebrating
- Off-Road in a Trailhawk
- Outstanding MPG on the Road From Moab
- Caught This Cracked Windshield Quick
- Automatic High Beams? No, Thanks
- It Feels Heavy Cargo
- Makes Jump-Starting Simple
- Park-Like-a-Jerk Assist
- A Pretty Penny for Fancy Glass
- One Year and 22,000 Miles
What We Got
A 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited bathed in True Blue paint and riding on chrome-plated wheels. So no, we didn't get the off-road-oriented Trailhawk model. As cool as that version of the new Cherokee looks, most buyers will opt for something closer to our tamer Limited model.
After all, this is Jeep's replacement for the Liberty, a vehicle that never gained much of a reputation as a rock crawler. And while it may bring back an old name, the new Cherokee comes to market with the most interesting styling in this segment since the Suzuki X90 and a full suite of modern convenience and luxury features in a full-on assault on the CUV status quo.
The 2014 Jeep Cherokee has a starting price of $22,995 in its base Sport trim, while our Limited (three rungs higher up the Cherokee ladder) starts at $28,095. As a Limited model, this Cherokee comes packed with standard features that are optional or not available on lower trims. Upgrades include leather-trimmed bucket seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control and a back-up camera.
What Options Does It Have
Though the Limited already comes fairly well equipped, there were a few extras we felt were worth adding for this test. First up was the V6 engine, a $1,495 option. In our 2014 Jeep Cherokee First Drive, we found the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder to be a little underwhelming, so for our needs, the 271-horsepower V6 was at the top of our list. The fuel economy hit isn't too bad either, as the V6 returns 22 mpg combined vs. 24 mpg combined for the four-cylinder.
We plan on taking plenty of road trips with this crossover, so 4WD was a must in case we run into bad weather, or a hidden geocache, or a dusty trailhead that looks fun somewhere along the way. Plus, it's still a Jeep, and Jeeps are bought for their all-terrain, all-weather ability. Checking the box for the Active Drive I 4WD system ($2,000) also includes the Selec-Terrain dial, which allows the driver to choose from Auto, Snow, Sport and Sand/Mud modes to optimize traction. Active Drive II adds low-range gearing but we decided against spending the extra $995.
Rounding things out, we also ordered the Technology Group ($2,155), a package that includes blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and an automated parking system. A navigation-HD radio system set us back another $795. A six-speaker audio system is standard, but we felt the nine amplified speakers and subwoofer were worth the extra $395.
Add in the destination charge of $995, and the grand total of our Cherokee Limited 4x4 is $35,930.
Why We Bought It
Compact SUVs have never been more popular, and the Jeep Cherokee already accounts for nearly 25 percent of all Jeeps sold in the U.S. as of June 2014. That's a huge chunk of the company's overall sales, considering the Cherokee has only been on dealership lots since October of last year.
This new Jeep also features plenty of firsts. It's the first Jeep to use underpinnings from Fiat, Chrysler's corporate partner. It's also the first use of the company's 3.2-liter V6 and the first time a nine-speed automatic has been offered in a compact SUV. This Cherokee also features radical styling that lands it firmly in the love-it-or-hate-it category.
When we rated the 2014 Cherokee Trailhawk, we noted that the off-road tires negatively affected the car's handling and braking performance. Does the Limited improve the Cherokee's day-to-day livability? Will we miss not having the more capable four-wheel-drive system?
We'll answer these questions and more over the next 12 months and 20,000 miles. Check the Long-Term Road Test page for daily updates and driving impressions.
Best mpg: 21.7
Worst mpg: 17
Average mpg over 580 miles: 20
The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation
The front seat in our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee is a nice place to be. Materials quality is high and I love the seats (more on that later), but there isn't much room for accessories, rubbish, contraband, paraphernalia, knick knacks, bric-a-brac, accoutrements, or other various flotsam and jetsam. Ya know, your stuff.
Sure, there's a relatively large center console to store items in, but when it's closed there's no easy access items like your phone, wallet, parking passes or glasses. There's a pop-up compartment on the top of the dash, but it's a bit of a reach too. I like my stuff front and center, along with some good cupholders. Our long-term 2012 Honda CR-V had Superb Small-Item Storage but the Cherokee just seems a bit more crowded up front.
Just a few days ago, Engineering Editor Jason Kavanagh commented that our long-term 2014 Acura MDX had a hypersensitive collision alert. I've driven the MDX many times and I agree with Jay, but the MDX doesn't hold a candle to our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
In just three days with our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee, I must've yelled at the car a dozen times. Warnings were going off like a sinking submarine, without any real or imminent danger.
Our Cherokee is equipped with the optional Technology package ($2,155) which includes automatic high-beam control, adaptive cruise control, forward collision and lane departure warning and mitigation systems, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, and an automated parallel and perpendicular parking system.
This particularly-hypersensitive system would shout warnings at me about imminent collisions when I was simply going downhill and the road flattened out, or around curved roads with cars front of me in another lane, but not in my path of travel. And whenever a car slowed marginally in front of me (which happens a lot in Los Angeles traffic) the Jeep's computers intervened, braked the car and fired off a series of alarms, all of which were completely unnecessarily. If there were a competition between the MDX and the Cherokee, I have no doubt the Jeep would win the sensitivity-crown.
Our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited may be considered a compact SUV, but it still has enough room inside to take care of regular-size chores. When I picked up some wood trim recently I didn't even bother to look to see if it would fit before I left. Most of the pieces were fairly manageable five-footers, but I did have one piece of 1x2 that was eight feet long.
As you can see, with half the rear seats folded down, the boards fit no problem. Sure, the long board had to stick into the front passenger area but that's to be expected in an SUV of this size.
The only real problem was where to put the cargo cover. The Honda CR-V has a handy spot in the floor for tucking the cover out of the way. It wasn't a big deal in this situation, but if things were a little tighter I would have wished I had left it at home.
I spy with my little eye on our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited's passenger seat bottom a little pull-loop.
We're generally big fans of Chrysler's top-of-the-line Uconnect electronics interface, which is found in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited and many other Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, SRT and Maserati vehicles, plus whatever other brands they're selling nowadays. I'm sure Eagle's making a comeback any day now.
Anyways, Uconnect's menus make sense and there are big old "buttons" on the touchscreen that are easy to see and press on the move. You'd don't have to be 15 to figure it out. I also appreciate the redundant knob that allows you to quickly flip through iPod playlists, radio stations or phonebook entries without tapping up and down arrows on the touchscreen like many other systems (Honda Civic, for instance) require you to do.
However, I object to the placement of that redundant knob and its buddy, the volume control. In most Chrysler group vehicles they are placed amongst the climate controls, which can be confusing at a glance, instead of near the screen they help control.
See, isn't that better? Isn't that more sensible? I certainly can't say one looks better than the other (my lack of Photoshop precision notwithstanding). I'm sure there are myriad reasons why this wouldn't be possible to do, but I'm here to argue this is nevertheless the way Uconnect should be.
The 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited isn't for everybody, but what it offers that the Honda CR-Vs and Toyota RAV4s of this world do not is the sort of personality that comes from about seven decades of heritage.
Now, some could certainly question how much of that heritage applies to a Fiat-based crossover with standard front-wheel drive that looks like nothing that's come before it. Yet, as if to remind all that it still carries Jeep genes, this subtle little silhouette of an original Jeep resides at the base of the windshield.
It's a small detail, but a cool one that shows someone actually cares about making the Cherokee more than just a grocer-getting transportation appliance. Other Jeeps have similar details, but it seems especially important in this new Cherokee.
Our deep blue 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited posts its first fuel consumption figure this month, and the results look good. Unlike another new addition to our long-term fleet, the Cherokee doesn't reward leadfoots with whiplash-inducing acceleration or rifle reports from its exhausts on throttle liftoff. As such, it was much easier for our crossover to achieve fuel economy within spitting distance of EPA combined numbers.
The Cherokee traveled 1,470 miles and consumed 74.2 gallons in its first month with us. That averages to 19.8 MPG, besting the EPA city rating of 19. Look for our numbers to improve once the Cherokee goes on a few trips. There's only so much you can do to save fuel while chugging along in the midst of L.A. rush hour.
Worst Fill MPG: 16.1 mpg
Best Fill MPG: 23.7 mpg
Average Lifetime MPG: 19.8 mpg
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 City/27 Highway)
Best Range: 302.6 miles
Current Odometer: 1,589 miles
Diagonal parking spots are much easier to pull in and out of than other types. That's the hypothesis, anyway, but it all breaks down when a windowless extendo-van parks in the adjacent upstream spot. That's exactly what happened to me the other day when I was driving our 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
As you can see, my view was totally blocked. My most emphatic head-check was no match for the looming Ford Econoline.
The passenger side rear-view mirror wasn't much help, either.
Enter the rear-view camera. This vehicle doesn't have a cross-traffic alert system, but the presence of the camera meant I didn't have to inch out very far before the massive 8.4-inch U-Connect screen displayed a clear wide-angle view.
I can't wait until it's legal to replace (not supplement) the door mirrors with cameras. No one talks much about the blind spots they create, but I'm seeing a growing number of cars with massive forward view obstructions created by mirror housings and the ever-thicker windshield pillars on which they're mounted. Ironically, this old-school method of improving rear visibility is beginning to fully obstruct the view of folks stepping off the curb in crosswalks.
Mirror housings are no friend to efforts to improve aerodynamics, fuel economy and wind noise, either. I'll take more cameras, please.
I know. I'm not fooling anyone. The vehicle under the photo-shopped tarp is a Geo Tracker, not a 2014 Jeep Cherokee. But the question is a good one nonetheless. Can you tow a 2014 Jeep Cherokee behind a motorhome?
After all, the new Cherokee is a great vehicle for the RV crowd. It's light and easy to tow. It's not terribly expensive. It's comfortable to drive. It's not a total gas hog. And certain versions (I'm looking at you, Trailhawk) are surprisingly capable when it comes to off-road exploring near the campsite.
A trailer will work, obviously. But four-down "dinghy" towing is the Holy Grail here. It's the preferred method for those who spend a lot of time in their motorhomes. Trailers are a pain in the you-know-what and your typical two-wheeled tow dolly isn't much better.
So can you pull a 2014 Jeep Cherokee behind your motorhome?
The answer: Yes, but...
Our particular 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4 can't, but other 4x4 versions can be towed with the full blessing of Jeep's engineering team.
That's because there are three 4x4 systems available on the 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
Our example has the standard Active Drive I system, which offers 4-wheel drive with a Selec-Terrain dial that alters the torque split, throttle sensitivity and traction control slip settings to match the driver's need for a particular condition. This alone gives the 2014 Jeep Cherokee more 4x4 sophistication than the compact SUVs it competes against.
But Active Drive I lacks one essential ingredient for dinghy towing: a low-range transfer case. This feature doesn't merely gear down the output of the transmission to enable low speed crawling. It also provides a neutral position that allows the wheels and tires to rotate in complete isolation from the 9-speed transmission and the engine. That's what you need to tow a 2014 Jeep Cherokee 4x4 with four wheels down.
And that's what you get if you opt for Active Drive II, which goes by the option code DFJ. It's largely the same as the standard Active Drive I 4x4 setup, but with an added low-range transfer case that contains the essential neutral towing position. Active Drive II is a $995 option on the Latitude and Limited models. It's not available on the Sport.
The third Cherokee 4x4 system is Active Drive Lock, which is the same as Active Drive II with an added rear locking differential for more serious off-road work. The Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk comes standard with this setup, and it's not available on any of the others.
To sum up, all Cherokee Trailhawks are towable behind an RV, and a Cherokee Latitude or Limited 4x4 can be if they are fitted with the optional Active Drive II 4x4 system.
Our particular Limited 4x4 is not towable because it has the standard Active Drive I 4x4 system. And none of the 4x2 versions can be dragged behind an RV because there's no way to keep their tires from back-driving the internal bits of the 9-speed transmission.
It seems counterintuitive, but you tow with an Active Drive II or Active Drive Lock 4x4 systems after placing the transmission in Park, but not before first putting the transfer case in neutral. The procedure is outlined in the Jeep Cherokee owner's manual in the "Utility" section near the back. Make sure you read it and follow along carefully. Doing it wrong could be expensive.
With the right equipment, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee is easily towable behind an RV on its own four tires. And it's just about perfect for the job in a lot of other respects. It wouldn't surprise us if the new Cherokee became the new favorite of the motorhome tourist set.
Our new 2014 Jeep Cherokee long-termer has a nine-speed automatic transmission. It has manual-shifting ability with the console shift lever, and it's even in my preferred layout of push-forward to downshift.
It doesn't blip the throttle, but that's not a huge deal. In general this is a good transmission, with pretty smooth shifts, both up and down.
What I'm finding strange, though, is that it doesn't provide much in the way of engine braking.
Let's say you're driving along and start heading down a hill. You want some engine braking to slow the Cherokee slightly. You move the shift lever from Drive over to Manual, and the instrument panel shows you're in sixth gear.
Push the lever forward for fifth. The gear indicator on the instrument panel changes from sixth to fifth, but nothing seems to happen. Push forward to try fourth. Again, it indicates fourth but there's still no change in revs. Third gear: still nothing. It's like it's freewheeling. It took a downshift to second gear for there to be a noticeable change in revs and some level of engine braking.
The problem is, I want my engine braking, and I want it right now (I'm needy). Shifting from sixth to fifth should give a little bit, and it should be instant, not 5 seconds or more later. If I want a bit more engine braking, another tap forward to fourth should be all it takes.
If you don't care about engine braking then none of this will matter to you. But if you regularly use engine braking to slow the vehicle, for instance instead of tapping the brakes or when you're in cruise control to keep it from overshooting your speed (and it will overshoot in the Cherokee), then you'll find this a bit bothersome.
One of the new-fangled features on our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited is its adaptive cruise control system. It comes as part of the optional Technology package. Like most other systems of its kind, it keeps a set distance between you and the car you're following, and it will bring the car to a stop if necessary. I've used the Cherokee's system on many occasions and it's one of the better systems on the market.
Much of that has to do with its smooth operation. With some systems, if a gap opens up in traffic and you're below your set limit, the car will speed up quickly and then suddenly slow down again when you come up on another vehicle.
Our Cherokee speeds up quickly enough, but as it comes up on traffic again, it slowly eases off the throttle. I usually set the distance to the "two bars" buffer which is about two or three car lengths, so there's always a decent distance for it to react.
If I had to nitpick, I'd say that there are a few too many buttons on the steering wheel. Do you really need different buttons for changing the following distance? No, not really. And I have to keep reminding myself that if you just hit the "set" buttons it will turn on the cruise control but in manual mode. You have to actually hit the "adaptive" button to turn that system on. Small problems for an otherwise well-designed system.
Look at the above photo of the dead pedal in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited and note the odd step at the bottom where your heal should be. This has to be an unavoidable flaw with the car's design, because I can't fathom the reason someone would desire a dead pedal step. My heal either sits awkwardly on top of it, awkwardly on its edge or awkwardly in front. Either way, this certainly can't be what someone envisioned.
Ah, the test track. The perfect place to observe a Jeep Cherokee in its natural habitat.
Well, not really. We aren't going to be tearing down the corkscrew at Laguna Seca in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited anytime soon (we'll leave that to the Corvette). However, subjecting it to our standard performance testing procedure does give us a chance to safely see what its limits are. Here's what we discovered when we put our newest crossover through its paces.
Vehicle: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited
Driver: Mike Monticello
Drive Type: Front engine, Four-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 9-speed automatic
Engine Type: naturally aspirated V6
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 3,239 / 198
Redline (rpm): 6,800
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 271 @ 6,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 239 @ 4,400
Brake Type (front): One-piece ventilated with two-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): One-piece solid with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type(front): MacPherson strut
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink
Tire Size (front): 225/60R18 100H M+S
Tire Size (rear): 225/60R18 100H M+S
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ProContact TX
Tire Type: Low Rolling Resistance, All-Season
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,103
0-30 (sec): 2.9 (w/ TC on 2.9)
0-45 (sec): 5.0 (w/ TC on 4.9)
0-60 (sec): 7.4 (w/TC on 7.4)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 7.1 (w/TC on 7.1)
0-75 (sec): 11.1 (w/TC on 11.1)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 15.5 @ 89.6 (w/TC on 15.6 @ 89.4)
30-0 (ft): 31
60-0 (ft): 122
Slalom (mph): 62.0 (61.9 w/ESC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): .78 (.80 w/ESC on)
RPM @ 70: 1,900
Acceleration comments: This is a strong, quick-revving V6. Pulls nice and hard right from initial throttle tip-in. Using the Sport mode made no difference in acceleration times, even though it supposedly adjusts shift action. Upshifts would come at around 6,400 rpm, smooth but not overly quick. This Jeep does not like any kind of power braking (brake/throttle overlap prior to launch to bring the revs up). Doing so would actually make the times slower. Manual shifting is via the console lever (push forward for downshifts: Yes!). Manual shifting proved futile for quicker times, though, as the upshift is accomplished so slowly that it would continue to gain another 500-1,000 rpm after you requested the shift, which meant you would for sure run into the rev limiter. That rev limiter is at about 6,800 rpm, but it starts cutting in around 6,500 rpm. It does not blip the throttle on manual downshifts, but it does hold gears to that 6,800-rpm limiter.
Braking comments: Extremely firm pedal with remarkably short travel, and it stayed as such throughout our brake testing. There's quite a bit of nosedive, but the Jeep always stayed straight, never wandered. Stopping distances remained consistent, too, with the first stop at 125 feet, the third stop the longest at 126 feet, the fourth stop the shortest at 122 feet and the sixth and final stop at 125 feet.
Slalom: Soft and sloppy. That about sums up this Jeep Cherokee. The steering is pretty intuitive, meaning it tries to go where you point it, but the soft suspension allows tons of body roll. On the bright side, even with all this movement it's a pretty forgiving vehicle, so you can get aggressive with your steering efforts and it never really gets all that out of shape.
Skidpad: The massive amount of body lean doesn't help things here, puts big punishment onto the outside front tire. We did find that the Jeep actually responds pretty nicely to changes in throttle. If you let off the throttle quickly, the rear of the Cherokee will step out slightly, which in the case of the skidpad this helps the vehicle regain front tire grip and continue on the intended path without pushing wide of the arc.
For understandable reasons, the majority of small crossovers on the market come with four-cylinder engines. But there are shoppers out there who desire more. Fortunately for them, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee offers a V6 engine as an upgrade.
The V6 Cherokee's fuel economy obviously suffers relative to the four-cylinder, and it costs more upfront (it's a $1,495 option). But in return you get quicker acceleration, better towing performance and, more subjectively, the much more appealing sound of a V6 under the hood.
This Jeep also happens to be one of just a few 2014 crossovers that offer a V6. The Chevrolet Equinox, Dodge Journey, GMC Terrain and Mitsubishi Outlander are the others.
Of course, there are also crossovers that offer turbocharged four-cylinder engines. These can effectively take the place of a V6. Examples would include the Ford Escape and the Subaru Forester. These turbo-4s can provide V6-like acceleration but with better fuel economy. Yet if you still want a V6, whether it be for the sound or just the comfort of having a naturally aspirated engine, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee is a good way to go.
One thing I really like about our 2014 Jeep Cherokee is the way it drives on the highway. This small crossover really could be an ideal road trip companion.
The Cherokee's body structure has a solid feel to it, and the suspension tuning is forgiving. As a result, bumps and broken pavement are easily absorbed as you drive over them without jostling you or our passengers. It's an impressively smooth ride for a small crossover SUV.
I've also noticed that the levels of wind and road noise permeating our Cherokee are quite low. For reference, I looked up our 70-mph decibel testing numbers that we recorded during our instrumented test of our long-termer. Sure enough, the Jeep had a lower highway decibel reading than a bunch of other small crossovers we've tested recently, including the Escape, Forester, RAV4 and Rogue.
When I think "Jeep" I don't immediately think "comfy and quiet!" so in that sense our new Cherokee is a pleasant surprise.
Rearview cameras are getting pretty commonplace these days and will in fact be required by law in a few years. Yet I'm still surprised by how nicely the rearview camera works in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee thanks to the large 8.4-inch display screen.
Some cars have small display screens that make it hard to make out what you're seeing. Others cover up good chunks of the view with otherwise incredibly obvious safety-related text ("Please check your surroundings"). Jeep shows how it can be done instead. The big screen gives you a nice up-close view of what's behind you and there's not a bit of lawyer-influenced text anywhere while the camera is on.
But wait, there's more! Our Cherokee also has the optional rear cross-traffic alert system (part of the Technology package). This feature warns you of vehicles approaching your intended path while you're backing up. It really comes in handy for parking lots.
Basically, you're going to have little reason to mistakenly back into anything in a 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
One of the appealing qualities I like about our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited is that its front-end styling stands out in the crowd. A lot of small crossover SUVs seem to fade into the automotive background because of their all-too-similar styling. But just a quick glance at the new Cherokee is all you need to know what it is.
Of course, the Cherokee benefits from having Jeep's corporate vertical seven-bar grille. Nothing says "Jeep!" better than that. But the Cherokee's slim, modern-looking headlights also contribute. Those lights also come with standard LED daytime running accent lights that perk up the Cherokee's forward look.
In back the Cherokee doesn't stand out as much. And I suppose time will tell on whether that modern front-end will hold up stylistically over the years. But if you're shopping for a small crossover that doesn't look like it came from a generic no-name mold, the Cherokee should work out well.
We added about 1,300 miles to the odometer of our 2014 Jeep Cherokee during the month of August. Nobody went on any big trips last month, so we accumulated those miles just commuting around Southern California.
For the month, we averaged 21.7 mpg.
That's a little better than our lifetime average of 20.1 mpg and very close to the EPA's estimate of 22 mpg for combined driving.
Although we've just started our year-long test of the Cherokee, we did see new best and worst fuel economy from a tank of gas this month: 25.4 and 15.5 mpg, respectively.
Worst Fill MPG: 15.5
Best Fill MPG: 25.4
Average Lifetime MPG: 20.1
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 City/27 Highway)
Best Range: 302 miles
Current Odometer: 3,150 miles
Note: Cars are sometimes refueled before their fuel tanks are nearly empty. As such, "best" and "worst" fuel economy entries above are not necessarily the result of an entire tank's worth of driving.
I have two small children and I'm often wrangling their child safety seats in and out of Edmunds.com's test vehicles. As the small crossover SUV segment is a popular choice for families, I decided to see how well my child safety seats fit in our new long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
As is the case with most vehicles, fitting my seven-year-old's Recaro booster seat was easy. The seatbelt buckles for the outboard positions are spaced far enough apart so that there's enough room for a child to easily buckle and unbuckle the belt herself without having the booster seat interfere.
More of a challenge is installing bulky front-facing and rear-facing child safety seats. In my first photo you can see my three-year-old's Britax Marathon reversible seat installed in its front-facing position. I was again pleased with the results.
First off, the Cherokee's seat cushions are pretty flat, so I was able to position the Britax safety seat properly without having to futz around with folded up towels. (I usually do put down a towel to protect the upholstery, but for the sake of the photo I didn't use it here.)
Installing a front-facing seat almost always requires the removal of the rear seat head restraint in order to get a proper fitment against the seatback. The Cherokee's head restraints do have latches on both seat inlets that you have to press in order to fully release the head restraint, but it wasn't terribly difficult to do this.
One useful aspect about the Cherokee is that the rear seats recline, so this should make it even easier to get the right seatback angle for your child's safety seat.
The Cherokee's LATCH anchors are exposed, making them easy to find. They are mounted close to the seat bottom, though, so if you're trying to connect a safety seat's LATCH connector that is upside down (the bigger end on the bottom) it's going to be harder to do. My Britax seat is that way when used in its forward-facing position, but I eventually got them to connect.
Then, of course, the true test: the rear-facing position. This is used for younger children, and dedicated infant seats install this way, too. The Cherokee's relatively flat seat cushion was again a bonus here. I didn't have to do much with a towel to get the safety seat at a proper angle.
The Cherokee also has a suitable amount of space with its seats slid as far back as possible to fit a rear-facing seat. I had the driver seat positioned for me — I'm 5-feet 10-inches tall — and there was still about 1 inch of clearance left between the safety seat and the back of the driver seat. That's not a huge amount, but I suspect most parents won't need to adjust the front seats much to accommodate rear-facing safety seats.
My usual disclaimer applies in that I only checked the outboard seating positions and your results will vary based on the child safety seats you have. But overall the Cherokee should please family buyers with safety seats to install.
Sometimes, it's as simple as that. You drive a car for a while and it just makes a good impression. For me, our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited is like that. I took it on a weekend roadtrip from L.A. to Monterey and it cemented things for me.
But what, exactly, makes the Cherokee good?
A Mazda CX-5 also exhibits good-vehicle-ness. But the Jeep's goodness is a different kind of thing from the Mazda's. Whereas the CX-5 is pointy and crisp, the Cherokee is plush and refined. Its ride quality is very good, and not mushy. Absorbent. It picks up its feet over bumps and the steering is geared and weighted appropriately, too.
The Cherokee's noise isolation is also quite effective. It feels refined. Long trips like mine are no problem at all for the Jeep. Its seat remained comfortable even after five hours in the saddle.
This Jeep Cherokee SUV/wagon/thing doesn't smack you over the head with its goodness. It just is.
There are other things about its powertrain calibration I find suboptimal, too.
First, the sluggish throttle response. Jeep/Chrysler wanted a smooth and refined action to throttle inputs. In this pursuit they damped the throttle so heavily that small inputs made by your foot result in no forward progress whatsoever. Give it a little more pedal and it responds, but it takes its sweet time doing so. This is annoying. Smooth, sure, but annoying.
Manual Mode: Mike also mentioned the sluggish downshifts in manual mode. He's right. You can tap the lever (which is set up in the preferred manner of push-to-downshift) a few times and count off several numbers before your desired cog is finally selected.
When the desired gear is indeed finally summoned, there's essentially zero engine braking for a couple of seconds, then a tepid amount thereafter. What's going on here is an emissions strategy that is not unique to Jeep.
Auto mode: The Jeep's nine-speed gearbox is smooth. And it's only somewhat stingy about downshifting when you roll into the throttle. It's not as bad as other automakers in this regard. However, with nine gears to choose from, the Jeep really has little excuse for not being in the correct gear at all times. This characteristic might be classified as a nitpick relative to the other areas identified in this entry.
Finally, let's talk about the Cherokee's cruise control braking. What's this, you ask? Well, imagine the cruise is set to your desired speed. You approach a downhill grade. In many cars, your set speed would creep up and up helplessly. This is dumb. It's dumb because cars have transmissions and brakes and these systems are, in modern cars, all talking to one another for a variety of reasons. They can — and should — cooperate.
The Jeep, however, is only partially dumb. As you start the downhill descent with the cruise set in the Jeep, the set speed will overshoot only slightly, and then it will recover to your set speed. It will do this even with the adaptive function turned off. Perfect, right? Well, here's the thing: The Jeep is holding your set speed down a grade by applying the brakes.
I probably don't need to point out why this is not ideal. But I will anyway. Dragging the brakes may be great for maintaining your set speed, but it's not so great for pad life. And who knows how hot the brakes are getting in the process. Now imagine a fully loaded Jeep going down any of the long freeway grades in the U.S. with the cruise set. Yipes!
The better way to hold your set speed would be to downshift (hello, automatic transmission), because downshifting delivers engine braking (that is, in most cars...). Only bring the brakes in as a last resort to supplement (not supplant) engine braking. But in many cases, a good dose of engine braking alone is all it takes to maintain your set speed, and this puts zero additional burden on the friction brakes at each wheel.
In fact, engine braking places no additional burden on anything at all. Except possibly Jeep powertrain calibration engineers.
A few days ago some neighbors of mine wanted to check out our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited I had parked in my driveway. As I was showing them the Cherokee and walking them through its various features, I realized this was a good opportunity for me to really sum up the Cherokee's strengths and weaknesses. In the end, I came away convinced that Jeep's got a solid crossover SUV on its hands.
Shopping for a new vehicle these days isn't so much about finding a "good" or "bad" one but finding the right kind of vehicle that matches your needs and wants.
The couple, Liz and Dillon, both own Mini Coopers. Liz wants to replace her Cooper S hardtop with something more substantial. They're in their early 30s and don't plan on having any kids. But they do own dogs and they're frequently traveling out of town or going hiking on the weekends.
For Liz, I think the Cherokee could be pretty ideal. The main reason, which is I suppose is fairly obvious, is the Jeep's enhanced off-road ability. You get a decent amount of ground clearance with every Cherokee, and you can further complement it with the optional four-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing and/or the Trailhawk trim level that comes with additional off-road oriented enhancements. Granted, most of the time she's just commuting around town to work, but on weekends a Cherokee would give them some extra capabilities that wouldn't necessarily be available from other small crossovers.
This capability doesn't have a negative effect on daily driving either. As we've learned from our long-term vehicle, the 2104 Jeep Cherokee rides very smoothly and is impressively quiet on the highway. Other advantages include the excellent 8.4-inch touchscreen interface, the high amount of available safety features and the Cherokee's distinctive front-end styling that helps it stand out from all the other dozens of crossover models on the road. Liz was impressed with all of these qualities.
I did tell them about the downsides, though. I think the Cherokee needs the V6 engine to be at its best. Of course, getting the V6 is pretty cool for the quick acceleration it provides. But if fuel economy is a priority, then you're stuck going with the Cherokee's underwhelming four-cylinder engine. And the reality is that most shoppers go with a four-cylinder model for a small crossover.
I made two other points: 1) The Cherokee is down on luggage and cargo capacity compared to roomier rivals (even though back seat space and comfort are competitive); and 2) Jeep doesn't enjoy as high of a reputation for reliability and resale as some other brands (e.g., Honda and Toyota). As it's still a relatively new model, it might give some people pause if they're planning to own for a long time.
Yet for Dillon and Liz, and really a lot of small crossover SUV shoppers, the Cherokee could work out quite well. They didn't think the smaller cargo area would be a big deal, and the V6 is a good match for their sporty leanings. I even showed them some of the shopping, pricing (Price Promise) and local inventory features for the Cherokee on the latest version of the Edmunds mobile app.
I may be the first one to take our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited in the dirt, but I say that with some qualification. This wasn't a core wheeling excursion by any means, but only a chance to see how this Dart-ish thing that calls itself a Cherokee would feel on loose terra.
I drove out to the Holy Jim trailhead in Trabuco Canyon, a part of the Cleveland National Forest that divides Orange and Riverside counties. The trailhead is less than 5 miles from the paved two-lane that cuts through the canyon, and the first two miles of that is just washboard gravel track. Once you hit the boundary of the national forest though, the road narrows, the ruts deepen and gnarly jagged rocks litter the primary driving line.
But there are no crazy approach or departure angles, or steep berms, and it's terrain that the average old Explorer can handle. Once I hit the forest boundary, I put the Selec-Terrain in the Sand/Mud setting. The trail was neither since it hasn't rained in southern California since the Ark, nor is it near any sand. But the low gearing and grip gave more confidence that I'd expected while scrambling over the some of the trail's wavy ruts.
It was slow going. I was cautious. I would've liked to hit it a little harder, as I might in my trusty 2001 XJ. Shearing off the front fascia in the service of automotive journalism might have made a good story, but would've required a fanciful explanation back at the office. Mostly, I worried about the tires.
The Continental ProContact TX's are an all-season, all-purpose tire, and even with the relative peace of mind offered by the Cherokee's compact spare (an increasing rarity), I reminded myself repeatedly: "this is not the Trailhawk, this is not the Trailhawk."
But the new Cherokee made the trailhead and it was even a pretty smooth ride. The same ride in the old XJ would jostle your neck from side-to-side and might include a meeting between your head and the roof. With better tires, you could push the Cherokee beyond the trailhead with some confidence, although ground clearance and articulation would become an issue. Maybe we can persuade Dan Edmunds to give it a try.
As it is, the new Cherokee makes not only a good all-around soft-roader, but also seems like a capable vessel for the weekend camper/desert rat, an alternative to something like the Subaru Forester.
THAT's a Cherokee, on the left.
(say with Crocodile Dundee drawl for full effect).
I've been waiting more than a year to do this post. From when we first started seeing mule photos of the new Cherokee to taking delivery of our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited, I've wanted to line this pretender up against the real thing. I'm glad I've held on to my old Heep (156,000 miles) and not just for this shot.
Jeep never claimed the new "KL" Cherokee would be remotely similar to the XJ Cherokee, except in name. Anyone who read the crossover tea leaves knew that, especially since the Cherokee drove into the horizon before crossovers were a thing. Maybe a good thing too, since we could have witnessed a slow and painful transformation of the off-road icon into the suburban commuter it is now. Who knows, maybe people said the same thing in the '80s when the six-cylinder XJ replaced the burly V8 "SJ" Cherokee?
Personally, I wish Jeep had reserved "Cherokee" for another time, another product, a sub-$30,000 budget Grand Cherokee that would fill the slot above the new version and even fill a void soon to be left by the FJ Cruiser's departure. A bit of an X3-to-X1 or C-Class to CLA-Class strategy.
And before you say that the new Cherokee IS a budget Grand Cherokee, no, no it's not. It's a Fiat Dart with higher ground clearance and decent off-road ability. But it's not a Grand Jr.
Looking at this photo, the 2014 Cherokee's front end is certainly distinctive, no two ways about that. But considering the rest of it, especially from the sides and rear, it could be the same formless blob you'll find in any other automaker's midsize crossover stable. That's probably the point, come to think of it.
Meanwhile, the 2001 Cherokee looks like it's from another era, which it pretty much is. The square headlights, the ambers, the box: That's Reagan Cold War Era right there, Bruce, Prince and Madonna on the radio, LA Raiders and 49ers running the NFL. Crocodile Dundee in theaters. Not much changed on the Cherokee since the mid-80s debut. That too was probably the point.
Now that my only child is safely in high school, I took the liberty of cleaning out our home arts 'n crafts closet which has been accumulating googaley eyes, multi-colored pipe cleaners, felt squares and countless jars of Mod Podge over the past decade.
With our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited test car already in my garage, it was a quick trip to the local elementary school to unload a banker's box of excess stock on Emma's unsuspecting (but grateful) first grade teacher.
One of my favorite features about my old XJ Cherokee is that it can fit my 9'2" Becker longboard inside the cabin. Nose in the right corner of the dash, tail angled toward the spare tire, the log is supported by the front passenger seat headrest (seat generously reclined) and the top of the rear bench seatback.
It's the preferred method for speed and convenience with the board riding on the roof only when I've got passengers. It's not necessarily the best precaution for rollover safety or board longevity. I really should just spend a few extra minutes and rack the thing up top. But it's nice for security when out for a post-surf burger and the Jeep is out of sight.
The 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited can do the same trick, but in a modern way. The board would ride too high if suspended atop the seatbacks and extend too far for the tailgate to close. But dropping the rear seat and folding the front seat flat allows the board to lay flat on the cargo floor. Nice. This is a better arrangement than the XJ.
We added about 1,800 miles to our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited in September. About 500 of those miles were added by Jay Kavanagh. During that time he earned the new best fill number of 25.5 MPG and a best range of 316.2 miles.
For the entire month, we averaged 22.3 MPG. And our lifetime average increased to 20.8 MPG (an improvement of 0.7).
Here are the stats:
Worst Fill MPG: 15.5
Best Fill MPG: 25.5
Average Lifetime MPG: 20.8
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 City/27 Highway)
Best Range: 316.1 miles
Current Odometer: 4,899 miles
This week our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited's odometer crossed the 5,000-mile mark.
The Cherokee's first 90 days in our test fleet have largely been spent running around town, with the exception of a weekend road trip from L.A. to Monterey.
As the holidays approach, I'm sure the popular Cherokee will see much more freeway action, as staffers lobby for family-friendly vehicles to transport pumpkin pie and presents to Grandma's house.
One of the biggest drawbacks to having a new car with tons of technology is the desire to show it off. Not by the owner, but by the manufacturer. They often try to cram everything possible into the instrument panel so the owner is reminded how much new stuff they have at their disposal.
Thankfully, our Jeep Cherokee doesn't have this problem.
As you can see, the instrument cluster uses classic analog gauges separated by a digital screen for all the new stuff. You get the basics at a glance with the option of adding whatever information you want to the center screen. Or you can have nothing at all like a classic Jeep.
It's the best way I've seen of bridging the gap between displaying basic info and more complex information like adaptive cruise control settings and auxiliary engine info.
Putting all sorts of connectivity options in a new car is a great idea. Putting those connections somewhere that makes them useful is an even better idea.
Our Jeep Cherokee is well designed in this regard. As you can see, there's access to multiple connection points right in the front of the shifter. That makes them easily accessible at a glance and perfectly placed when you want to plug in a phone or SD card full of music (I'm told that's what they're for, never bothered trying it myself).
Some argue that all this stuff is better off buried in the center console where it will be out of the way for all those times you're not using any of the connections. Maybe so, but in this instance they're tucked out of the way enough that you hardly notice them when stuff isn't plugged in. And there is an additional USB port in the console if you want to plug in your phone or iPod out of sight.
Kind of odd to think that USB plugs and SD card slots would be an important part of a Jeep Cherokee's dashboard, but clearly the designers knew what they were doing.
When I heard that the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited has a nine-speed automatic transmission, I thought, this is getting ridiculous. What's next, a 47-speed automatic transmission? Does it really help with fuel efficiency and ride comfort? Does it ever even get up to 8th and 9th gear?
Well, I can tell you that it's slow at shifting in certain situations, like parking, for example. I stopped at the market on my way home the other day and as I was leaving I put the Jeep in Reverse, backed out of my parking spot, and then into Drive and nothing. I thought I missed and hit Neutral for a few seconds, then it kicked in.
Nine-speed. It should be called Nine-slow.
"Why's this wood panel here?" Megan asked. It was the first thing she noticed when she sat in the passenger seat of our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. "It isn't even real wood. Is it supposed to match the brown door panel or something?" Megan is a good friend of mine and she's ridden in many of our long-term cars, so I trust her to give me her honest opinion. This time, she pointed out something I hadn't really noticed before and I wasn't exactly sure how to respond.
I tapped on the piece of trim and a hollow, plastic sound came off it.
"You're right. This thing feels cheap," I said. "But otherwise, it's pretty nice in here, right?" Though neither of us initially thought this piece was real wood, it turns out that it is.
According to the Jeep Cherokee's brochure, the "unique pairing of Indigo Blue and Jeep Brown, mirrors the evening hues of Italy's Mount Vesuvius. Open-pore Zebrano wood trim, Silver-colored bezels and accent stitching finish the vision."
In the Limited trim, I really like our Cherokee's interior. The dashboard surfaces feel like they're made of high-quality materials. This piece of trim is a bit out of place though. It could easily be replaced by the same standard plastic that it butts up with on its lower seam without giving the door panel such a mismatched feel.
The rearview camera display, for example, hangs onto its reverse image for about nine seconds after engaging the transmission in drive and finally returning to its home screen. Nine seconds. Nine-speed transmission. There's a theme here.
Not a deal breaker, but annoying in an era of fast smartphone and tablet processor speeds.
I had a lot going on this past weekend, and found myself crisscrossing L.A. and Orange counties in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. Saturday morning's chosen road was particularly pleasant and I was really enjoying myself until...
...the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) warning light started blinking.
The pressure display screen automatically popped up on the driver display screen, but it showed all four tire pressures to be bang-on the specified pressure of 33 psi. I pulled over and confirmed this with a quick check, but as I was doing it I knew it wasn't necessary.
A blinking light, you see, means a problem with the system itself, not the tire pressure. A steady light means you have a low tire. This distinction is coded in the TPMS regulations and noted in the owner's manual.
So I made a mental note and went about my business.
The blinking warning persisted for about a minute or two. After that it went solid as if to say, "You've seen my alert. Now I'm going to back it down a notch so you don't get annoyed with me and trot out the electrical tape."
My errand-filled day resulted in many stops, and this pattern repeated at every restart in order to make sure the driver (me) didn't forget to have it checked out. The warning light would blink, the tire pressure display screen would override whatever was on the display screen, and after a minute or so the blinking light would downgrade to always-on status.
At one point I was paging through the driver information screen and found a "Service TPMS system" alert on the Stored Messages screen. Why wasn't this screen the one that automatically popped up? If it's a fault with the system itself then there's little point in conjuring up the tire pressure display. Why leave the discovery of this clarifying service message to chance?
But I digress.
For no apparent reason it all went back to normal several key-starts and some dozens of miles later. No more blinky light at restart, the tire pressure screen retreated to its usual background position and the Stored Messages screen cleared itself. It's as if I dreamt the whole thing.
So what happened?
I'm not exactly sure, but I have a couple of guesses. The central brain could have missed a few reports from one of the wheel-mounted tire sensors. A low sensor battery might do it, but they're supposed to be good for 10 years. Maybe I drove through a region of high electromagnetic interference. I don't recall any mysterious radio towers along my route, though. And the nearest military installation is dozens of miles away.
Besides, the pressure screen that popped up always displayed numbers that made sense. And as I drove they changed up and down one or two psi in response to heat, sun load and driving enthusiasm, as per usual.
Whatever it was, the fact that it took time to reset itself makes sense. The system would have to see a string of uninterrupted successful transmissions to rebuild "confidence" in the data and extinguish the light. The same thing happens with some systems when you install a new wheel sensor with an unfamiliar serial number. Such systems can "learn" that an unfamiliar sensor "belongs" after enough successful and persistent transmissions are received.
Still, we're going to keep an eye on it and have it checked out at the next service visit. Before that I may drive back to the same spot to see if some sort of weird local interference is to blame.
Our Jeep Cherokee has plenty of technology. From its adaptive cruise control system to its excellent rear parking camera, it's loaded. But there's one system I could do without.
That would be the automated parallel parking system. It's a popular addition to numerous cars these days. It promises to take the anxiety out of squeezing into a parking space on the street with the touch of a button.
Since I have basic driving skills I don't need it, but I know others might find it useful so I gave it a try. It works for the most part as it steered the Cherokee into a sizable spot without any trouble. When it was done there was a little too much space between the Cherokee and the curb for my tastes, but it was close enough.
By biggest problem is how much time it takes. You have to turn the system on, pull up to a spot and let the computer figure out if there's enough space. Then you shift into reverse and let it do its thing which it does no faster than any normal human. Seems like a whole lot of technology and expense to address something that can be mastered with nothing more than a little practice. Maybe I'm just too old.
We added approximately 2,700 miles to our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited's odometer since its last fuel update, and a few short trips made up the bulk of those miles.
During this time, the Jeep recorded its worst tank yet averaging just 12.8 mpg.
That low score was at the hands of known non-hypermiler, Scott Oldham. (And since he's our boss, we'll just silently judge him from the safety of our desks).
Worst Fill MPG: 12.8
Best Fill MPG: 25.5
Average Lifetime MPG: 20.8
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 City/27 Highway)
Best Range: 373.5 miles
Current Odometer: 7,717 miles
That's a six-foot ladder in our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. It fit, and yes I could close the hatch.
I had my doubts as I walked the metal monstrosity over to the crossover, but it quickly became clear that it was going to work.
First, I lowered just the small side of the Jeep's 60/40 split-folding rear seat. Step 2: Insert ladder.
I was a couple of inches shy of closing the hatch, even with the ladder in diagonally. I found those inches by moving Cherokee's passenger seat up a click or two from "all the way back". Hatch closed.
And there's still room for four.
This is something I'd like to see in more crossovers, including my wife's GMC Acadia.
The underfloor storage in our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited keeps small items, like athletic shoes and my 1981 issue of Street Freaks, from ping-ponging around the vehicle's vast expanse of cargo space.
Smartly, its four bins vary in size and shape, and they're just deep enough to be truly useful.
Access is also well thought out.
Jeep engineered a hook-and-tether system so you can quickly suspend the "floor" from the tailgate jamb, which allows you to use both hands for loading and unloading your items. It's a simple solution and it could not be easier to use.
I've tested enough heated seats to know that they come in three flavors: Is it Even On?, Ooooo That's Nice and Toasty, and Holy Cow, My Butt is On Fire.
The seats in our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited are of the Fire Butt variety.
On the "HI" setting they cook you. I'm all for a little heat, but the Jeep's seat warmers quickly have me basting in my own back sweat. My wife loves it. I can only take it for a few minutes before I have to back mine off to the "LO" setting, or I just shut it off completely.
The heater in the Cherokee's steering wheel is also quite potent. Once again I can't leave it on too long or it's just too much. And, unlike the seats, there's only one setting.
Disclaimer: The Cherokee and I are in Los Angeles. If I were in Chicago in December and wearing a few very thick winter coats and mittens I may feel differently.
'Tis the season, and our beach town neighborhood was hosting its annual tree lighting ceremony. My friend who owns a local coffee shop was scheduled to provide 12 gallons of hot chocolate to support the festivities, and I volunteered to help with delivery.
We easily loaded three of the two-gallon containers into the back of our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited and carefully drove the 10 blocks to the staging area.
Not a drop of the steaming chocolately goodness was spilled.
What happens when your 14-year-old daughter asks for a "giant teddy bear" for Christmas?
If you're me, the bear's $120 price tag makes you flinch, laugh and ultimately scoff at the sheer ridiculousness of the purchase.
But along comes a friend-of-a-friend who just happens to have an unwanted 53-inch teddy bear sprawling on the couch in his spare room.
Yesterday, I tucked Teddy into the rear cargo area of our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. Our Cherokee has 24.8 cu.ft. of cargo space with all its seats in place. Later that day I folded him into a closet where he'll remain until Christmas morning.
Need a giant teddy bear for Valentine's Day? Surely the novelty will have worn off by then.
"What an incredible smell you've discovered." That was my thought when I slipped into our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. The interior has a unique sour smell to it. Or a chemical smell. Or a sharp cheddar. It's pungent with a touch of skunk.
I noticed it strongly when I first opened the door. I got used to it after a minute or so.
But last night I was in the Jeep for about an hour and a half trying to get home. I had the seat heaters on the whole time. And when I finally got into my house, my clothes smelled a little Jeepy.
How would you refresh it?
I find the driver seat in the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited comfortable for me. And according to my weekend passengers, the rear seats are darn good, too.
Rear legroom is listed at 40.3 in. and can be tweaked by sliding the seats forward and back. You can also recline the backrest. The leather trim feels durable and looks good in our particular shade of brown.
This is one of the best rear seats in the compact crossover class.
In 1987 my father bought himself a new Corvette. Black. I was seventeen at the time, and it was the absolute coolest thing I had ever seen.
That car had digital gauges. Both the speedometer and the tachometer were displayed redundantly with both a colored graph that mimicked the function of an analog gauge and a numerical readout like KITT's speedometer, which the camera always zoomed in on during Super Pursuit Mode, which was awesome.
However, when I drove that Corvette, I always found myself focused on the colored graph for rpm and the numerical readout for speed. And I suspect I'm not the only one.
(Today's C7 Corvette Stingray also uses a digital instrument cluster, but its tachometer is limited to an analog style gauge, while its speedometer is a numerical readout.)
Twenty-seven years later digital gauges and speedometers come in many mutations. And the design in our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited is one of my favorites.
The Jeep instrument cluster has two traditional round analog gauges. Tach on the left. Speedometer on the right. Between them is an electronic screen that can display many different pieces of information, from the car's tire pressures to its fuel economy to the radio station you're listening to. And it's all easily toggled through with thumb buttons on the steering wheel's left spoke.
I like the Jeep's large digital speedometer. I use it all the time. It takes me back to 1987. Just like in my dad's old Corvette, I choose to use the Jeep's analog tach for rev counting and its digital speedo for speed.
And this setup is not limited to the Cherokee. In fact, it's becoming ubiquitous as more and more cars begin to include digital readouts and more informational elements to their instrumentation.
I'm not sure if today's interior designers have ever seen Knight Rider, much less know that some of what they are doing today was pioneered on the silly crime drama in 1982. And I'd bet my Member's Only jacket that most of them have never been in a C4 Corvette, which hit the streets two years later.
But that's okay. Or is it?
Of course, my first inclination upon getting into our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited was to install my child's really quite enormous rear-facing convertible car seat in the rear passenger-side position. That way, I can be selfish and leave the driver seat exactly how I want it.
But when I spotted a single lower anchor point in the rear center position, I knew I had to try a rear center installation just for kicks.
I consulted the Jeep's owner's manual and, sure enough, that center anchor point can be used in combination with the inboard driver-side lower anchor point to do a center LATCH installation.
Although I had hoped to wedge the car seat between the front seatbacks and maybe not have to move either of those seats forward, my car seat (which is wide) was offset ever so slightly to the driver side. So the driver seat had to come up quite a lot. I can still drive the Cherokee safely, and in acceptable comfort for my short trip to the grocery store. But this setup wouldn't be great on a road trip because my knees would always be bent at a 90-degree angle.
I could, however, ride in the front-passenger seat, which now provides more than enough legroom for all 5 feet and 10 inches of me. Now I just need to find a shorter spouse to do all the driving.
However, when my First Years True Fit C680 SI convertible car seat is on the passenger side with the rear seat adjusted all the way back on its track, there's still passable room for me to sit in the front-passenger seat. Indeed, my knees and shins are closer to the dash, but unlike in our long-term Nissan Rogue, they do not touch. Not having my knees against the dash is feeling more and more like a victory these days.
So much as Donna wrote about the Cherokee's rear-seat accommodations for adults, I have to give it a similar thumbs-up for its spaciousness for car seats. But for practical reasons, I'd have to put our car seat in the outboard position on the passenger side rather than in the center.
When I'm not installing car seats, I occasionally allow myself to enjoy the act of driving itself. And if you're going to drive around in a small, relatively affordable crossover SUV, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited is one of the best ones out there.
The last time I drove the new-generation Cherokee, it was in a much earlier state of development. The engineers were still working on the nine-speed automatic transmission calibration, plus I was driving around Moab, Utah, which is at 4,000 feet.
Yet, our long-termer feels very much like the V6-equipped Trailhawk models I drove last year.
This is not an overtly athletic crossover SUV. It's nothing like our old Mazda CX-5 in personality. Yet, the Cherokee is likable in a different way, and the effortless torque has a lot to do with it. Even compared with the powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engines in this class, the V6 is just impressive because it makes for such a relaxed driving experience. Merging and passing requires so little work. It's like the old days.
The ride quality is also quite excellent. I don't think you'll find a cushier ride in this segment. I do think our Jeep feels heavy for its size as you're going around turns. Still, it's steady at a brisk everyday driving pace and its substantial feel might be welcome if the CX-5 strikes you as lightweight and tinny.
Our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited was closer to the 4Runner than the camera would have you believe, but not so close to impede the upward motion of the liftgate. Still, the Cherokee liftgate design has a fairly narrow opening radius that's handy when using in the confines of beach town parking on a weekend.
Easy to shimmy in between bumpers and release the latch without going through a major limbo routine. Once raised, it was easy enough to load in a 40-inch-long hardshell case, then turn it width-wise in the cargo area with a bit of room to spare.
Back in August, my wife and I ventured to Oregon in our long-term Mercedes CL65. It was such a wonderful trip, and we enjoyed Bend, Oregon, so much that we decided to return during the winter to experience it when all that green had been dusted in white.
Well, the week of New Year's seemed to be a good time to return, but this time a large luxury coupe that sends 738 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels was not going to do. I needed something with power going to all wheels and figured our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited was the perfect vehicle in the fleet. I had concerns about the long-distance comfort of its seats, but I was eager to test how our little Jeep does in an environment far better suited to its capabilities than southern California.
It proved to be a prescient choice. Stay tuned...
The trip from Los Angeles to Bend, Oregon, should take around 12 hours. It's a distance I did coming back in the CL65 back in August, but as driving through rural Oregon after dark is a lot different than doing so in the outskirts of L.A. sprawl, a two-part journey is recommended. As we had friends meeting us in Bend who were planning to stop in Chico, California, we opted to divert there for our overnight pit stop. And of course, we stopped in Weed, California, for gas and the obligatory photo.
The first day of the drive was mostly spent on California 99, which as I discovered back in August, is a far superior way to traverse California in a northerly direction than the awful I-5. Our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited impressed with its nicely quelled wind noise, stability on the highway, soft ride and steering well suited to highway travel. I also appreciate the little cubby for my iPhone, which typically ends up taking up space in the center armrest (here taken up by sunglasses and my camera) or the cupholder (here taken up by, well, cups).
Also, kudos once again to Jeep/Chrysler/Dodge/Ram/Fiat/Plymouth/DeSoto's excellent Uconnect touchscreen interface that quickly calls up whatever you need with minimal distraction from the road. Its large icons also make it easy to operate with gloves, so take note cold-weather dwellers.
If there was a major complaint, it's the comfort of the driver seat. There's something about the positioning of it that causes me to constantly fiddle with the height, pitch and recline to ultimately no avail (the almost useless dead pedal doesn't help). If my body is at a comfortable recline, then my feet are too close to the pedals or my arms are too far from the wheel. With the Jeep's awesome adaptive cruise control (I really can't say enough good things about it, more later), I ultimately opted to sit too close to the pedals.
After the miles started piling on, I also noticed that the seats are a tad too squishy and lack a degree of firmness that is beneficial over distances. As a result, I really started to fidget on day 2 and my back started to get tight, necessitating a few back stretch breaks. When my wife drove for a 100-plus miles, she also noted the same insufficient support, which is telling since at 5-feet tall, she's nearly my physical opposite (I'm 6-foot-3). In other words, this should be a bigger issue than the seat's adjustability.
Other than that, though, the Cherokee performed admirably. The weather was actually perfect on the drive up, meaning that I could've driven the CL65 and not run into any problems. That certainly wouldn't last for long. Stay tuned.
Though we made it to Bend, Oregon, free and clear with no inclement weather to challenge the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited, that quickly changed. First, we drove the half hour or so up to the ski resort area of Mt. Bachelor, traversing the curving Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway to get there, the latter 20 percent of which was caked in a thin layer of snow. Even with all-season tires, we plowed through without issue. A day later, things got even more interesting.
We awoke on Monday morning in Bend to thick snowflakes falling, which accumulated throughout the day to between 8 and 10 inches of snow. Having forgotten a snow brush, I was left to clear off the Cherokee with a broom from our vacation rental as I refuse to be that lazy jerk who creates his own blizzard behind his snow-covered car. Thereafter, I had to make my way through a snow-covered alley and the snow-caked town roads that, even when plowed, remained 100-percent white.
In such conditions, turning the Selec-Terrain knob to Snow Mode became a habitual action in between hitting the start button and slotting the shifter into drive.
According to Jeep, the Selec-Terrain system "electronically coordinates and optimizes up to 12 systems on any terrain providing enhanced vehicle control, including: drivetrain control module, electronic brake controller, electronic stability control, transmission controller, powertrain controller, (and) hill-ascent and hill descent controls." In other words, the Cherokee resets itself to behave optimally in perpetually slippery conditions, readying itself for possible sliding events and limiting an overzealous/inattentive driver's wheel-spinning throttle inputs. (It's important to note that our Cherokee has the Active Drive I all-wheel-drive system, which is a reactive system rather than a locking one).
As such, the Cherokee felt secure and confidence-inspiring on the snow and ice. Even with all-season tires, I had no problem maintaining traction even on hilly streets and through Bend's many (wonderful) roundabouts. Then again, I was driving appropriately for the conditions and given my "see snow, engage Snow Mode" mentality, I didn't really compare and contrast with Auto mode. However, I will, at the very least, note that Selec-Terrain provides a degree of real capability and perceived confidence that competitors like the Honda CR-V or Ford Escape can't match. If I lived in a rural place like Bend where snow stays on the road for a while and I may need to head through mountainous terrain, I know I'd much rather have the Jeep.
The Cherokee alongside Bend's Drake Park and Mirror Pond.
When you buy a 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited instead of a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester or indeed most other "compact" SUVs, you should do so with the knowledge that it does not possess the same amount of cargo space. A major culprit for this deficiency is its higher load floor created by the large spare tire and the need for a taller departure angle. This is what you call a trade-off for the Cherokee's requisite Jeepness, but how useful is the existing space?
When loading up the Cherokee for our Oregon road trip, it became clear that it isn't the cargo hauler its competitors are. We really didn't have that much stuff, but the Cherokee quickly filled up. The large, roll-type cargo cover was immediately removed, destined to remain in Los Angeles, as we needed that extra inch or so of cargo height between its bottom and the top of the back seat.
Since we didn't need that back seat for passengers, it was pulled all the way forward, which is a nice, versatile feature that most competitors do not offer (the Chevy Equinox does, the CR-V used to). Not only did it provide a few inches of much-needed extra trunk space and a handy gap between the trunk floor and seat back for securing a few grocery bags (that can be accessed by flipping the seat back forward), but we could have kept our dogs nice and close to us had we chosen to bring them along.
I suppose this could be good for a child seat too, well, as long as they've gotten that whole kicking your seat thing out of their system. At the same time, I wonder how adding a child to the road trip equation would have stretched the Cherokee's cargo capacity. Adding whatever strollers, toys or whatever to our pair of suitcases, large shopping bag of winter coats, two bags of groceries and one duffel bag of extraneous items would've been difficult.
So for a pair of DINKs and potentially their dogs, the Cherokee proved to be sufficient for a winter road trip and indeed well suited for our cargo needs. For a family with human youngsters, however, you'd probably be filling it to the absolute brim in winter. It would be better in the summer sans bulky coats, but an SUV with a bigger cargo hold may still be a better call.
I'm going out on a limb here and say for the money the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited and other Chrysler-family vehicles have the best adaptive cruise control. During my road trip to Bend, Oregon, it was absolutely invaluable and an example of how to do such a system right. If cruise control was its own category in our vehicle ratings, it would get the rare 10 out of 10 from me. The fact that it's not that expensive is a 3-inch slab of icing on the cake.
Reason No. 1: You can turn off the adaptive functionality. There are instances when having the adaptive cruise control system automatically lock onto the car ahead and slow itself to match their speed can be irritating or not ideal. Not because you want to slam into a slower moving vehicle, but there are a number of instances or driving conditions when its automatic slowing kicks in just before you're about to change lanes around the forward impediment (think of a slow-moving truck far ahead). This dual-mode cruise control of sorts is a rarity. The vast majority of other brands are adaptive or not.
Reason No. 2: The distances are reasonable. Every adaptive cruise control system I can think of has three settings for distance between you and the car ahead. Normally, they could be described as Everyone Cut In Front of Me, Country Mile, and Nuclear Fall-Out Exclusion Zone. In other words, you'd really only ever use the tightest setting. With the Jeep, the closest setting is actually pretty close and similar to the distance you'd keep when on a reasonably busy highway (or a few yards short of tailgating). For the first time I can remember, I actually opted for the further settings, especially on two-lane roads.
Reason No. 3: Speaking of two-lane roads, this trip to Oregon highlighted just how invaluable any adaptive cruise control system can be without passing lanes. With ACC, you set your desired speed and when you come up to a slower vehicle ahead, the car holds your set distance behind until a passing opportunity presents itself. Without ACC, I'd be fiddling with the cruise control or turning it off all together. This is brilliant. If I lived in a place like Bend where I had to drive on predominantly two-lane highways, I think ACC would be a must-have feature.
(The ACC sensor is the little round thing in the lower air dam)
Reason No. 4: It's not that expensive. On the Cherokee Limited or Trailhawk, Adaptive Cruise Control is part of the $1,495 Technology Group, which isn't chump change, but you also get forward collision warning, lane departure warning (with automatic steering correction), automated parallel and perpendicular parking systems, automatic wipers and automatic high beams. For just one point of comparison with another brand, the Honda Accord's rather clueless adaptive cruise control system (as we discovered here) is essentially bundled with only LED headlights in the Touring model that adds $1,360 to the otherwise loaded EX-L.
Plus, ACC's availability and price isn't the same on every Chrysler group vehicle. On the Dodge Challenger R/T Plus, its Technology Group features ACC, forward collision warning, auto high beams and auto wipers for only $195. I didn't omit a zero. That's one hundred ninety-five dollars. Apparently the Challenger's styling isn't the only thing that's retro. Why those items cost so little compared to the same system in the Jeep is beyond me (could the parking and lane departure system really be THAT much?), but either way, it represents good value. Ditto the Jeep, just not to the same ridiculous degree.
Normally I would never pay for adaptive cruise control. But for the reasons above, and especially if I lived in a place like Bend, I would absolutely pay the money for it in the Jeep Cherokee or any Chrysler vehicle.
We were a mere 10 minutes or so into a 12-hour-or-so journey to Bend, Oregon, when our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited's trip computer alerted me I should change its oil soon. Great, perfect timing. Looks like I would be visiting an Oregonian Jeep dealer.
Sure enough, somewhere in the middle of nowhere on Highway 97 just south of Bend, the trip computer alerted me that an oil change was now required. Alrighty then, hold your horses. Three days and minimal driving later, I dropped the Cherokee off in the oil change express section of Smolich Motors Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Bend. No appointment necessary.
Service advisor Lindsay Fetcho processed me and the Jeep quickly, and after less than a half hour I was back under way. Sure, it was Tuesday morning, 9 degrees outside and in no way busy, but the expediency was appreciated even if I can think of worse things than hanging around Dodge Challengers in a showroom.
For $39.95, they put six quarts of 5W20J synthetic in and replaced the filter. As this was its first service, they also performed a 16-point free vehicle inspection and found nothing. Very reassuring when you're 822 miles away from home.
So although you only have one choice for your Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealer in Bend, Smolich Motors seems to do a good job.
Being in Southern California is wonderful for reviewing cars, as you can pretty much do photo shoots and track-testing every week of the year without fear of a blizzard or torrential rain. However, there are car features we simply don't get to test as you would in normal parts of the country. One such common feature is remote ignition and I got a chance to experience and appreciate it in in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited during my road trip to Bend, Oregon.
Here's how it works. From the warm confines of our rented cottage I pressed the lock button once and then the little remote ignition button twice. The engine then fired to life, warming itself to a beneficial temperature without me needing to be inside freezing my butt off. At the same time, since the Cherokee has the same Auto-On Comfort functions in cold temperatures as our Ram 1500, remote ignition also engaged the heated steering wheel and driver seat and (but not the passenger seat, much to my wife's chagrin).
Eventually, I would emerge, key in pocket to unlock the door and press the interior start button to get under way. Now, this isn't a feature you should use casually since an idling engine is obviously bad for your fuel economy and the environment, but since the engine should be warmed up after sitting for hours in sub-zero temperatures, it's definitely beneficial and appreciated.
Whereas Mike Magrath bought a freakin' cake for our CL65's 15,000-mile milestone, my observance of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited's 10,000-mile crossover was rather less involved: I was asleep.
Although I was aware I was approaching the big 10K when I left Bend, I also knew it would be many hours and hundreds of miles before we got there. Not surprisingly, it totally slipped my mind and the event ended up happening somewhere north of Fresno when my wife was driving for an hour and change while I took a breather from driving my part of nearly 13 hours in one day. So, a photo at 10,110 miles will just have to do. I kept it binary.
In those 10,110 miles, the Cherokee has been trouble free and my oil change in Bend has been the only dealer visit. And beyond maintenance, our impressions of the Cherokee have generally been positive. 10,110 miles so far, 10,110 miles so good.
With our week in Bend, Oregon, sadly at an end, my wife and I packed up the Cherokee once again and set course 822 miles due south for what would hopefully be a full day of driving. I say hopefully, because you never know what weather or a jackknifed tractor trailer on a mountain pass might be ahead.
Thankfully, we indeed made it to Los Angeles in a tidy 12.5 hours along a combination of Highway 97, Interstate 5, Highway 99 and then back on the 5 past Bakersfield. Despite being in the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited longer on the way back, I didn't experience the same seat discomfort issues, as I had successfully found a seating position that worked for me and made a conscious effort to stretch at every gas, food or pee break. I still don't find the Cherokee's seats to be especially comfortable, but I was able to make it work.
Given such a long stretch of driving, my wife came in from the bullpen for me on a 100-plus-mile stretch in California's central valley, giving her an opportunity to try out the Cherokee. She too found the seats lacking in support, but she also became a fan of the superior adaptive cruise control. As she's only 5-feet tall, she has to choose between peering over the steering wheel like the quintessential little old lady, or sitting higher and consequently hovering her feet over the floor while operating the pedals. This is usually the case when she drives an SUV (which is why adjustable pedals are so helpful for short folks). She opted to sit higher, which gets tiresome over long distances, making cruise control and especially the Cherokee's adaptive system that much more beneficial.
In the end, we both thought the Jeep did the job. We weren't cursing it, but we won't be pining for it this summer when we head back up north. Having said that, it was certainly more impressive in the snow than on the highway, and I found that its power, character and electronics made it more appealing than most other compact SUVs would've been on the same trip.
Here are the facts and figures on our Oregon road trip, plus the Cherokee's fuel economy update for December.
Total Miles: 1,804.2
Total Time in the Car: 34:48:18
Total MPG: 24.9 mpg
Total Passes on Highway 97: 27
Total Monster Khaos Consumed: 3
Total Bags of Chex Mix Consumed: 2.5
Total Stops at Arby's: 1
Total License Plates Spotted Despite Being in Only 2 States: 35 + 2 Canadian provinces & Baja California
And now for the promised fuel economy update. My trip was quite kind to the Cherokee's running MPG tally, as it included the three most efficient tanks in the Jeep's 10,124 miles in our fleet. These included 28 and 27.8 mpg tanks, which are actually better than the EPA's estimate of 27 mpg highway (these stretches were mostly downhill from Klamath Falls, Oregon, to Lodi, California, and flat cruising through California's central valley). The previous best was 25.5 mpg, so yay me. The Jeep's lifetime fuel economy also jumped up to 21.4 mpg from 20.8.
Worst Fill MPG: 12.8
Best Fill MPG: 28.0
Average Lifetime MPG: 21.4
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 City/27 Highway)
Best Range: 378.2 miles (also on the trip)
Current Odometer: 10,390 miles
I headed home a few nights ago for the first time in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. Tried pairing my phone when I jumped in but was met with the above note telling me that the "Hands-free system is loading. Please wait."
So I waited.
And waited. And waited.
It became clear after several minutes that the problem wasn't fixing itself. I cycled the ignition several times thinking that would do it. Nope. The notice persisted all the way home. And into the next day.
Four days later and it was still there. I disconnected the battery and reconnected it hoping that a hard reset might resolve things. It didn't. But it did make the Cherokee mysteriously die on the first restart after reconnecting the battery. And it sent all the idiot lights into tailspin for several key cycles. Then, eventually, everything was fine.
Except the phone pairing.
So I called UConnect customer service where a very nice man named Dave walked me through a lengthy update process which involved downloading the latest software to a USB jump drive and letting the Cherokee run in my driveway for 30 minutes while it installed. This, too, didn't fix the problem.
Back on the phone with UConnect, case manager Kristen discovered the software update was never going to fix the problem and that the original diagnosis had been a waste of my time. Hey, at least it's up to date. She confirmed that the problem was one of two possibilities: The Bluetooth module either needed to be reflashed or replaced and for that we'd need to see the dealer. Which is what we'll do.
After our recent phone-pairing debacle in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited, I was happy to discover a feature that's working well. Though I'm not a huge fan of lane-keeping systems, it's always refreshing to find one that's well calibrated. And that's the case in the Cherokee.
Any device that can steer the car you're driving needs to work well if it's going to be of any use. And I find the lane-keeping function in the Cherokee walks the fine line between effectiveness and intrusiveness just about perfectly. You don't want your lane-keeping feature to be worthless in actually keeping the lane. Nor do you want it to be abrupt or to bounce the car between the white lines. This one does neither. It provides a subtle nudge back into the lane and nothing more.
Well done, Chrysler.
Seven months into the year-long test of our long-term, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited has seen its fair share of road trips. Last month, Riswick took a tour of Oregon. At the end of January, I took it on a road trip into western Nevada (more on that in upcoming posts).
Neither my adventure into Nevada, nor our usual commuting duties had any effect on the Cherokee's running fuel economy tally thus far. And that's just fine considering we're just a tick away from meeting the EPA's combined estimate.
Worst Fill MPG: 12.8
Best Fill MPG: 28.0
Average Lifetime MPG: 21.4
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 City/27 Highway)
Best Range: 378.2
Current Odometer: 12,407
Our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited is a great example of how to blend old and new technology in a way that's easy to use. It not only has one of the better user interface setups for its touchscreen, it also has a handful of physical knobs and buttons for the stuff you use most often.
The volume and tuning knobs for the radio are big and easy to find without looking at them which is always a big plus. Same goes for the fan knob in the middle. Finding the temperature buttons take a little getting used to but eventually you can find them without glancing down too. For more advanced features you can go to the touchscreen menu.
Most of this seems like pretty basic stuff but sometimes designers and engineers get too cute with the details. The result is either an overly complicated way to do simple things, or a maze of buttons that are simple to use but hard to find. This setup has neither issue which makes this Jeep a pleasant daily driver.
Not too long ago, I decided to stop making excuses for not getting out and seeing the world. Opportunities to pack up and head out were surprisingly forthcoming. The most significant so far came courtesy of my buddies in the Edmunds photo and video crew.
Scott Jacobs and John Adolph invited me to tag along on a trip into western Nevada. This wasn't a fancy-pants vacation with rolling luggage and luxury accommodations. It was a journey that involved plenty of dirt roads, hiking boots and lots of trudging around in thorny brush. Besides three humans, there were also a pair of German Wirehaired Pointer Griffons that have graced our long-term updates in the past.
Leading up to our departure, I was under the impression that we were taking two vehicles. Oops. Just as we had the car packed to the roof with gear, I came to the realization that we're making the trip altogether in the Cherokee. Scott was in the back with the two dogs with a very sturdy Orvis seat cover not unlike this one to keep them from scratching the upholstery. The accommodations were tight back there, to say the least.
In my estimation, a road trip like this could be tackled easily with two adults, two kids and a small dog in the Cherokee. Any more than that and someone might be miserable. The good news was that I was able to stash all sorts of ancillary items into the many storage pockets: a beverage in the door, foul weather gear under the cargo floor, cigars under the front seat cushion. The under seat bin was also very handy when I needed to keep some beef jerky away from the dogs when we had to leave them in the car.
That pretty much sums up our cargo limitations on the trip. More on the trip to follow.
Historically, I've never been a fan of cruise control. That all changed as adaptive cruise control began appearing in cars. As we pointed the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited north on the long desert highway towards Nevada, the system proved worthy of praise.
Our long-term Cherokee allows the driver to choose either traditional cruise or adaptive. The button in the middle of the Set, Cancel and Resume buttons activates the traditional cruise. The three buttons below that group control the adaptive. Personally, I don't see the point of offering both separately. This was reinforced when John took over driving duties into Nevada and didn't realize that adaptive cruise was even an option. Admittedly, I only realized this because it was still daylight out when I was driving and I saw the buttons.
I like the Cherokee's adaptive cruise control because it seems smarter than some other systems. It also has more adjustment range for following distances. I set it to the furthest distance because it tends to be smoother in speed adjustments. When we closed in on slower traffic, the system reduced our speed very smoothly, almost imperceptibly. I found that in shorter following distance settings those speed adjustments were more abrupt.
When slower cars moved over to let us pass, the Cherokee gradually increased speed. Other systems I've encountered would apply a bit too much throttle to reacquire the target speed. What I'm saying is, the Cherokee's adaptive cruise control reacts much the same as I would. Smooth and steady. Well done, Jeep.
I love dogs. If I had room in my life for one, it'd be a no-brainer. Scott's dogs, Archie and Dudley, are exceptionally cool and they proved it on our Nevada road trip. The 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited, on the other hand, was adequate but not all that praiseworthy as a hauler of larger dogs, but perhaps not for the reasons that you'd assume.
In terms of dog space, piling stuff behind the driver's seat to fill the footwell helped matters. This created a bit of a seat cushion extension. Had we not been so pressed for space, one of these seat extenders would've been ideal. While I can't speak for Archie or Dudley, I think they managed just fine. They were large enough that they could easily look out of the windows. They were large enough, actually, to sit at the same height as a human. This had its own issues, though.
Dudley quite enjoyed putting his head right between the driver's headrest and the roof pillar. His panting spread a most pungent odor right past the side of my head. After a few hours, I made peace with this, but I would never say I'd become acclimated. Seriously, how could you get mad at a face like that?
The more significant issue was also related to ventilation. John bought some cheap beef jerky at a fuel stop. So cheap, in fact, that none of us were all that interested in eating it. Then he had the horrible idea of giving it to the dogs. To quote Han Solo, "what an incredible smell you've discovered!" It was surprising how quickly the dogs "processed" the jerky.
It was at this very moment I wished the rear window could have been opened. We could have opened the front windows to produce a front-to-back airflow. But no. No. Opening all four windows instead created a vortex of stomach-churning odors. Like most things I find hilarious, this was also horrifying. The good news is, the strong chemical stench that once permeated the Cherokee's cabin is gone. It's been neutralized by a more...organic force.
Back to relating the Cherokee to real-world dog compatibility, I think we managed to get by at the Jeep's interior space limit just fine. It would have been understandably more comfortable if we had one fewer dog or one fewer human. Then again, it probably wouldn't have been as much fun.
Most of our trip into the not-so-wilds of Nevada had our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited on well-groomed dirt roads. The roads were so civilized, that we never saw the need to switch into any of the off-road drive modes. That was, until one of the locals told us that we should check out an area up in the hills.
Our Cherokee is the Limited trim. That means it's the fancy-pants luxurious one. But Limited could also mean it has limitations. Well-groomed dirt roads are one thing, but rocky trails are another altogether. That's when the Trailhawk trim makes more sense.
We headed into the hills using the old-timer's directions. Pavement turned to dirt. Dirt turned to gravel. Gravel turned to fist-sized rocks. Bigger than fist-sized rocks turned ugly.
The trail narrowed at the first choke point, with one big rock on the right and a medium-sized one (about the size of a car battery) on the left. We drove up onto the smaller rock with a little bit of a struggle, then the tire quickly lost its purchase and slipped. Unfortunately, that caused a rather ugly set of scuffs on the alloy wheel. After a few choice words, we gingerly guided the Cherokee back down the trail.
Yes, in hindsight a Trailhawk would have been the right tool for the job. It has 17-inch wheels with wider all-terrain tires, not the 18-inch all-seasons on the Limited. With any luck, repair or replacement won't cost too much.
I absolutely love the front seats in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. Every time I get in, it's like settling into a comfy leather armchair. There's just the right amount of padding and support in the seat bottom. It's soft but not squishy, firm but not stiff.
The combination of rich brown leathers doesn't hurt the effect, either.
It hasn't been an issue for us, but other 2014 Jeep Cherokee owners have been experiencing some problems with the shift quality from the standard nine-speed automatic transmission. According to Jeep, there's nothing physically wrong with the transmission, it simply has a few software glitches that occasionally result in abnormal operation.
Not everybody around here loves the way the transmission feels, but there have been no complaints about anything feeling abnormal. We may wait and see if anything crops up before we take it in to have the new software installed, or maybe we'll ask them to do it when we have the Bluetooth issue addressed. No one will have to turn a wrench, but the guys with the laptops will be plenty busy.
Parked on the street with the early afternoon sun beating down on it, our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited was a little toasty inside.
I climbed into the driver seat and fired up the engine as my daughter and her pal slid into the back.
"It's spicy in here," announced Emma, which is 14-year-old-girl-speak for, "it's hot."
"I know," I said, "be patient. It will take a few minutes for the air conditioning to kick in."
Ten minutes later, the girls were still complaining.
"Is the rear vent open?" I asked.
"Yes," said Emma. "On a scale of 1-10, I'm giving this vent a 5."
Duly noted, you sassy future automotive journalist, you.
We knew that our 2014 Jeep Cherokee was due for service soon but we snuck in a couple of road trips anyway. It had 12,925 miles when I pulled into the service drive for a 7:00 a.m. appointment at Glenn E. Thomas Dodge in Long Beach. On the agenda were scheduled 10,000-mile maintenance items and a phone pairing issue Josh encountered.
In less than 45 minutes the oil and filter were changed and the tires rotated. Then I waited. The next 2 hours and 15 minutes in the customer lounge were highlighted by a Michael Strahan versus Shaquille O'Neal dance-off and the woman seated next to me, who spilled a cup of coffee in her husband's shoe...
Despite the life-sucking drone of LIVE with Kelly and Michael on the waiting room television, I remained patient. Credit for stifling my annoyance went partially to the surprised shriek of a man with hot coffee running down his calf and partially to my service advisor, Sam.
Sam stopped in every 20 minutes or so with updates. It was frequent enough to make me feel like I wasn't forgotten. Even when the news was bad, "My technician called in late for work this morning," she delivered it in a pleasant manner. The final check-in came at the 3-hour mark. She explained, "My tech determined that an internal failure was causing the problem. I will order a replacement radio and call you when it arrives."
Total Cost: $56.50
Days out of Service: None
Most modern cars offer navigation and entertainment displays that range from 8 to 12 inches wide, some in widescreen aspect ratio, many with touch-sensitive surfaces. Pretty impressive technology that seems to keep in step (or at least a step behind) the latest tablet technology.
But what most of them lack is a simple, clearly marked, accessible button to turn the lights out. You don't always need the map running and refreshing and you don't always need to know the artist singing the song on the radio.
Most of the time while driving at night, I just want to tone down the light pollution. Many systems offer the feature, but bury it deep within menu structures, usually somewhere in "settings," and at the least most offer some form of brightness control. You can light a small library study group from the brightness of a Tesla Model S center stack, and although I'm sure I'm wrong, I don't remember an easy way to dim that whole assembly.
Our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited offers a button to turn the screen dark, there in the lower left of the photo. When you want it back, you tap the touchscreen. Simple. Sure, it's one more button demanding space on the center console, and the Jeep's isn't particularly elegant. Other cars have a tiny button either onscreen or around the display's trim plate with an icon of the moon, for example, that's less obtrusive. Regardless, I appreciate that Jeep/Chrysler offer this simple control.
We've been putting our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited to good use over the past couple of months, and February saw us drop another 1,800 miles on our True Blue ute. We're about seven months into our time with the Jeep, and, well, how are we doing?
Numbers are on the other side.
We're kinda right where we should be, and that's saying something. Southern California isn't exactly the best spot to max your mileage, but the Cherokee is hitting its numbers. You know us, always doing our darndest to get the best mileage possible.
Worst Fill MPG: 12.8
Best Fill MPG: 28.0
Average Lifetime MPG: 21.5
EPA MPG Rating: 22 combined (19 City / 27 Highway)
Best Range: 378.2 miles
Current Odometer: 14,002 miles
I agree with Mrs. Hellwig's post about the comfortable front seats in the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4. I'm tempted to say my photo is a little better, but it's not a competition. Yet somehow I just made it one.
But back to the seats: It was especially nice to get into the Cherokee the other day for me, as I was suffering from a bad cold and my whole body was aching. The Cherokee made it seem like I was plopping down into a seat of wonderfully thick pillows. Seriously, the seat bottom is that plush and inviting. It actually made my body feel better, a pretty nice thing when you've got a long drive home.
Interestingly, Mrs. H. only mentioned the seat bottom in her post. Maybe it's the same for her as it is with me, that the seatback portion doesn't envelop you quite as nicely as the seat bottom does. I think there's a bit more curvature about mid-back than is optimal for me, so it doesn't give as much of that "ahhh, luxury" feeling as with the seat bottom. I have no doubt that for many folks, though, this will be the perfect amount of back support.
Regardless, overall this is a comfortable seat.
With some cars the styling grows on you over time, with others it does not. I remember the first time I saw a BMW Z3 M Coupe. I was on vacation in Cape Cod, and there was one parked on the route of my daily run. I thought it was, well, kinda weird looking. After a week of running past that thing every morning, my feelings had completely changed and I wanted one. Even now, all these years later, it remains on the list of "Cars Mikey Must Have."
But in the case of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4, it's not growing on me. I just can't get beyond that schnoz.
Look, I'm certainly not one to be throwing stones about this. If you've ever glanced at a photo of me, or worse, seen me in person...my honker ain't exactly the most gorgeous thing ever created. But the Cherokee's nose leaves me a little mystified every time I see it, like "how'd that get past the focus groups?"
There's just too much hanging off the front, and too much going on with the front-end styling in general. I have no problems with the rest of the Cherokee's metal, it's just the front end that gets me.
Three weeks ago we took our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited in to address an issue with the Bluetooth. The problem was easy to repeat. Press the phone icon on the touchscreen and the system froze as displayed in the picture above. The repair was not as simple...
"I will order a replacement radio and call you when it arrives." Those were the parting words of our advisor at the first visit. She anticipated parts could take up to a week to arrive. We patiently waited seven days before calling to follow up. Unbeknownst to our advisor a Star case was opened regarding our repair and the radio order suspended.
Star is the next level of service techs beyond the dealership. The group is divided by region and usually only steps in for exceptions. Star felt that the dealership tech missed something during our first go-round. Our advisor asked us to return with the Cherokee so her tech could perform the diagnosis as outlined by Star. We did and he did. Same result. Another radio was ordered but this time with Star approval. Two days and a weekend passed before parts arrived. Installation was same-day.
This ranks as one of the stranger service experiences I've seen. I don't know if the blame rests with the dealer and our advisor or with another arm of the company, but there was a lack of communication someplace. The end result was a delay in our repair of nearly two weeks. That is unacceptable.
Total Cost: $0
Total Days out of Service: 2
It's well documented that the current Jeep Cherokee is short on cargo capacity compared with other compact crossover SUVs. Although we've managed to fit plenty of stuff in our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited, the cargo bay behind the backseat is small. Too small, in my opinion.
Here is the largest and cushiest of the three strollers I own. Yes, three. We also own three car seats. And three automobiles. We're Americans and we like having options.
This stroller, a Maxi Cosi Foray LX, is a pain to fold and unfold (yeah, yeah, I should have done more research before buying it off Craigslist). But it happens to be my daughter's favorite, so I took it along for a recent lunch outing with friends. As you see, it fits just fine in our Jeep Cherokee's cargo bay. When folded, its footprint is roughly 40 inches by 24 inches. No problem, right?
Right. Unless, of course, I'd wanted to stop off at the grocery store, in which case, I would have had to pile the bags on top of the stroller. That's no problem if I'm just going home afterward, but if I need to use the stroller again, it's a hassle to retrieve.
For perspective, here's a really terrible photo I shot at night of the same stroller in an A3 sedan. It's not our long-term 2015 Audi A3 obviously, rather a TDI model we recently tested. The Audi's trunk measures a paltry 10 cubic feet compared to the Cherokee's 24.8-cubic-foot cargo bay.
Yet the A3's trunk is deeper, so I can fit the stroller in with the handlebar-side out and stuff some groceries in on the side. Certainly, the Jeep has more hauling capacity when you drop the rear seats, but for everyday use, the advantage goes to the Audi.
After road trips to Oregon and northern Nevada, our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited took it easy in March and traveled only 826 miles in mostly local driving. Our observed fuel economy hovered right around its lifetime average of 21.5 mpg, with one of three tank-fills exactly hitting the EPA's combined rating of 22 mpg.
Commuting in our Cherokee makes me want to hit the open road as well. Ride comfort is superb, and it's got to be one of the quietest crossovers in this price range. My little girl had no trouble falling asleep during a couple hour-long drives.
I also like the V6 engine's power, of course. If you're a recovering previous-generation Toyota RAV4 V6 owner, this should be your next vehicle. Mind you, our Jeep is never going to average 25 mpg like our 2012 Honda CR-V and 2014 Mazda CX-5 did, but 22 mpg is a pretty solid average for a vehicle able to move out so decisively in traffic.
Worst Fill MPG: 12.8
Best Fill MPG: 28.0
Average Lifetime MPG: 21.5
EPA MPG Rating: 22 combined (19 City / 27 Highway)
Best Range: 378.2 miles
Current Odometer: 14,646 miles
So I have an expensive purse. Most days it is worth more than the sum total of its contents, cash and credit cards included.
On the rare occasions that I need to leave it in the car, I'm careful to lock it in the trunk or hide it under the cargo cover in a minivan or SUV.
That's how I realized the cover in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee was snapped in backwards.
I pulled the handle back to stretch the cover into position, but it stopped at least 6 inches short of locking into place. Squaring my grip and putting more weight behind the pull, I tried again. Still no dice.
I looked at it again and realized whoever used it last installed it backwards, which causes the cover to roll from under the plastic casing instead of from the top of it. On second look, I also noticed the exposed metal fasteners, which should have indicated that something was wrong.
Midway through my morning commute, our 2014 Jeep Cherokee's odometer clicked past the 15,000-mile mark. When I exited the freeway, I documented the occasion with the above snap.
The Cherokee has been with us nine months, so we have just 90 days left in our year-long test. We're right on target with our mileage goal. Other than the radio replacement, which put the SUV out of service for two days, we've been Jeeping along quite nicely.
The Jeep Cherokee is unique in the compact SUV segment because it's available in three distinct 4-wheel drive, tire and suspension combinations.
Our Cherokee Limited 4x4 sits at the lower end of the Jeep off-road spectrum with the so-called Active Drive I four-wheel-drive system and 225/60R18 tires. Sport and Latitude 4x4s with the AD I system get 17-inch tires and wheels with the same rolling diameter. All of them ride on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, stand 66.2 inches tall and have 7.1 inches of ground clearance.
Step up to the optional Active Drive II system when you buy a Latitude or Limited and you'll get a class-exclusive, low-range transfer case that enables superior low-speed crawling. It also provides a neutral position for flat-towing your Cherokee behind a motorhome.
Moreover, you'll get a significant 1.1-inch suspension lift that hikes ground clearance to 8.2 inches and raises the roof to 67.3 inches. Jeep engineers had to devise longer rear trailing arms to maintain the desired rear suspension geometry, which is why the wheelbase of an AD II-equipped Cherokee is somewhat longer at 107.0-inches.
The Trail-Rated Trailhawk has what Jeep calls Active Drive Lock, which is the AD II system with low range, plus a lockable rear differential. The 1.1-inch lift is standard here, of course, but the addition of taller P245/65R17 off-road tires produces an additional half-inch boost to ground clearance (8.7 inches) and overall height (67.8 inches).
I wondered what all of this would mean for Ramp Travel Index, otherwise known as RTI. I measured a Cherokee Trailhawk some months ago, but never got around to measuring our long-term test vehicle on our 20-degree RTI ramp until late last week.
Our Limited (above) with the standard Active Drive I 4x4 system and standard-height suspension managed 10 and 3/4 inches of wheel lift before daylight started to show under its left rear tire. That equates to a trip of 31.4 inches up our 20-degree ramp. Divide that figure into the standard Cherokee 4x4's 106.3-inch wheelbase and you get an RTI score of 296 points.
Our visiting Trailhawk (inconveniently painted the same shade of blue) did a little better. It managed 11 and 7/8 inch of wheel lift and crawled 34.7 inches up the ramp before it hiked a tire. Remembering to use its longer 107.0-inch wheelbase for the calculation, the Trailhawk's RTI score is 324 points.
Earth-shaking? Not really. The difference is solid, but the Trailhawk's better RTI merely puts it in the same league as the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport and BMW X3, which scored 323 and 322 points, respectively. Meanwhile, the Mazda CX-5 inexplicably has them all covered, if only by a little, with 334 points.
But RTI isn't the end-all, be-all of off-road performance. All things being equal, RTI is a useful metric. But the Cherokee Trailhawk isn't equal. No other crossover can touch its low-range transfer case, ground clearance and locking rear differential.
Turns out the Trailhawk has another massive advantage: approach and departure angles. It's not just because of its suspension lift and the taller tires, either. The lower halves of its front and rear bumper caps have been significantly and specifically re-sculpted for additional clearance.
It all adds up to an approach angle of 29.9 degrees and a departure angle of 32.2 degrees. It's no wonder the Trailhawk is in no danger of rubbing against our ramp at any point during its climb. And it has the traction to keep going, even on three wheels.
Pity our poor Cherokee Limited 4x4, which contacted our cheese grater ramp a few inches before it reached its RTI tipping point. That's because its approach angle is a mere 18.9 degrees. There are 25 degrees of departure angle at the back end, but that's little consolation to the bloodied nose-end of the car.
Jeep specification data says that Active Drive II and its suspension lift boost those clearance angles to 21.0 and 27.3 degrees, respectively. A good improvement, but the Trailhawk and its plastic surgery-enhanced bumpers still beat these figures by a good margin.
What does this all mean? About what you'd expect.
Our Limited with its standard Active Drive I 4x4 system is not particularly well-suited to rough trail work on a number of levels, weak RTI being one of them, low clearance being another. But neither is a serious drawback because there are two other choices.
Active Drive II offers up low-range gearing, more underbody clearance and motorhome towability for a modest option price of $995. And then there's the Trail-Rated Trailhawk, which delivers substantial traction and clearance advantages well beyond other compact crossovers, even though its RTI score isn't necessarily a standout.
Though it crossed the 15,000-mile barrier this month, our 2014 Jeep Cherokee didn't stray far from home, accumulating just 1,054 new miles. That's an improvement over the 627 miles amassed last month, but we'll need to pick up the pace if the Cherokee is to reach 20,000 miles in its final 10 weeks with us.
No new records for best fill or best range were set this month, and our Cherokee's lifetime average fuel consumption remained unchanged at 21.5 mpg.
The Cherokee V6 4x4 earns an EPA combined rating of 22 mpg, which means our Cherokee Limited is hitting its marks with 15,501 miles under its belt.
The stats break down like this:
Worst Fill MPG: 12.8
Best Fill MPG: 28.0
Average Lifetime MPG: 21.5 (4.7 gallons per 100 miles)
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 City/27 Highway)
Best Range: 378.2 miles
Current Odometer: 15,501 miles
Fiat-Chrysler announced an increase in the number of 2014-2015 model year Jeep Cherokees affected by an earlier recall to reprogram airbag software. The additional 62,148 vehicles share the same potential for accidental deployment of side curtain and seat-mounted side airbags. Fiat-Chrysler said most reported incidents occurred in "harsh, off-road environments."
We called to see if our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited was part of the recall. It was.
But our vehicle received the software update when we took it in to address a Bluetooth issue a couple of months ago. No need for an extra dealer visit this time.
Owners can contact Jeep customer service at 1-800-853-1403 for information.
I recently took our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited on an extended road trip north along the Eastern Sierras. I soaked up most of the miles with the help of satellite radio, Chex Mix, and my dog, Fritz. The Cherokee is comfortable, quiet, and loaded with tech that really helps melt away the miles.
I'm an avid camper, and the plan was to have a couple days to myself before meeting up with the rest of the crew for Memorial Day weekend. I had my Eastern Sierras Off-Road trail book in hand, earmarked with many different off-tarmac byways. No particular plan in mind, just miles and time to kill.
Just after Bishop, Calif., I split off the 395 and travelled north Highway 6 into western Nevada. The landscape opened up and eventually I pulled over to stretch the legs and let the dog run around.
In my mind, Jeeps are solid-axle, slick rock-conquering legends that take on anything and laugh. I've seen them roll, flip, break, and burn all in the spirit of adventure. So if you were to ask me about this particular model, I'd say it's a Jeep. Kinda.
Now before I go further, I'm well aware this is not the Trailhawk. I'm simply playing the hand I was dealt. With a GoPro in hand, I set it up for a couple of landscape drive-by shots.
As the video illustrates, our Cherokee's 7.1-inch ground clearance wasn't enough for the camera to escape unscathed. Honestly, I was a bit surprised, but I chalked it up as a bit of a reality check. As a precaution, trails that featured any sort of "MODERATE" terrain would be off the list for the rest of the trip. No big deal, as there was plenty to see and do on well-travelled "EASY"-rated track.
More on that to follow.
Risue Canyon Road (Forest Road #050) is 16.5 miles long and runs through the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. My plan was to get to one of the primitive campgrounds at the tail end of the trail before dark. In no way is this trail the Rubicon, so I felt confident in anything AWD/4WD, with no need for a 4-inch lift, lockers, or 35-inch tires.
I was having a great time. The Cherokee was a blast and soaked up the bumpies with ease.
Once it started getting wetter, I switched the terrain mode to MUD/SAND. The ABS was turned off as was traction control. In any standing puddles or slick stuff, I could accelerate and concentrate on steering input while the transmission kept the revs up and the tires spinning.
At about 12 miles, I hit a summit and started down the grade. That's when the Continental 225/60R18 all-seasons met their match. The mud was thick, clingy, and deep. Before I had a chance, the treads clogged and halted any progress. I tried to back out, but any throttle input just made things worse.
So now I'm stuck, but still slowly sliding down the grade into the overflow ditch. After a quick and sloppy scramble, dead branches and logs chocked the front tires. That was able to stop the Jeep's forward momentum before I had high-centered.
I ended up hiking down the slope to the valley floor and found some campers gearing up for the long weekend. I told them of my situation, let them know where I was, and we agreed to meet up in the morning. Since I already planned on camping, I had plenty of food, water, and warmth.
Around midnight, I spied two flashlights and greeted them. Turns out they were sheriff's deputies who'd received a call that I was stranded up on the hill. That was surprising as there was no cell coverage anywhere close to where we were.
"We didn't really want to come all the way out here, and I did just wash my truck," one of them said. "But if you ended up dying and we didn't come out here, they'd come after us."
The deputies weren't very encouraging, and led me to believe that nobody would be crazy enough to pull me out until things dried out in four or five days. So we hiked back down the slope and loaded into their RAM 1500. The dog and I got back into town at 3:00 am.
First thing in the morning, I contacted the local tow guy and he was great.
"No problem," he said. "I have a good idea where you're at. That's the soft side of the hill. No way we're getting up that slop."
We agreed it would be safer to approach the Cherokee from the top, and winch me back up the grade to a firmer spot where I could turn around.
The tow driver's F-250 with BFG Mud-Terrains had a hard time staying put, but he and his son had me out quicker than expected. We ended up taking Desert Creek Road back to town, through rocks and several water crossings. It was really beautiful and I wouldn't mind going back. But only when dry.
I can't knock the Cherokee. The Active Drive system helped get me farther than any simple AWD crossover/SUV would have (the deputies were amazed I'd gotten as far as I did on street tires) and it really did inspire confidence. After only a minor delay, I got back into vacation mode and had a solid Memorial Day weekend.
It's my fault for pushing the tires way past their limits, but it makes me wonder: What if I'd had the Trailhawk?
While 1,000 miles isn't exactly a long-distance record, that's how far I drove last weekend in our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. My brother and I visited family in Northern California, but we had a small window of time to get there and back.
West Los Angeles to Nevada City is a little shy of 500 miles and, with a small detour to pick up my brother, I easily added 1,000 miles to the Cherokee's odometer. Not a bad way to get acquainted with this five-passenger crossover.
The first thing I noticed when I took the Cherokee home was the frequent shifting from the nine-speed transmission. Other editors have mentioned these drawbacks before and immediately I could feel what they were talking about.
In traffic and around town, the nine-speed shifts constantly. On the highway, to transition from a cruise to a passing maneuver, you flat-foot the throttle but nothing happens. It feels like an eternity between input and response. I abandoned several passing maneuvers to avoid cutting off other motorists. It was better to wait and pull out.
In the mountains surrounding Nevada City, I wished I had brought something more like our long-gone, long-term Mazda CX-5. For a crossover, it was much more entertaining and responsive from behind the wheel. The Jeep is comfortable and definitely has some serious off-road chops for this segment, but road handling isn't its strength.
A highlight of the journey was the Cherokee's comfort, however. The seats are perfect for my 5'9, 170-pound frame. I adjusted the seats once when I left Los Angeles and a second time on the 500-mile stretch back home. In between, I had almost zero squirm-for-a-better-butt-position moments or back-aches, which is rare for me. My brother settled in for at least two naps along the way.
In a follow-up post, I'll detail how I set two new Cherokee fuel economy records on the trip.
In case you missed it, my brother and I went from Los Angeles to Nevada City and back in the Edmunds long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. It's 500 miles or so each way and we did the whole trip in about a day. You can read the details of the trip in the previous post, but here I wanted to follow up with fuel economy details.
The short version: we filled the tank three times and even cracked 30 mpg. Follow the jump for more.
We left LA with about a half-tank of fuel, so filled up three times on the trip: Once in central California while northbound, again in the same area while southbound and a final fill in Los Angeles before parking the Cherokee at the Edmunds offices.
These three fills came in at 24.9 mpg, 28.3 mpg and 31.0 mpg, respectively. The latter marks a new best fuel economy record for the Jeep, better than even the EPA's 27 mpg highway estimate. The second tank also set a best-range record of 411.7 miles.
The trip home included flat highways and a 65-mph speed limit most of the way. I settled down in the slow lane and used cruise control for maximum efficiency. This is the same strategy I used to finally crack the highway-EPA estimate on our long-term Nissan Rogue.
I genuinely like this kind of driving. Don't get me wrong, I'd much rather be at a track day in the F-Type, but this driving is much less stressful. Flat-footing it requires more frequent gas stops and ultimately a longer trip, with the added worry of getting pulled over. In the end, this tactic kept me relaxed, allowed my brother to sleep in the passenger seat, and helped us achieve two new records for the Jeep during its eleventh month in our fleet.
Go big or go home. Well, we went big on miles and got far away from home in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited in May. We put around 3,400 miles on the odometer and filled the tank 11 times. Most of those miles came from Travis's quick road trip and John's adventure in the muddy Eastern Sierras.
We also shattered some old stats.
We averaged 25.4 mpg for the month, significantly better than the EPA combined rating. Travis managed 31.0 mpg on the return leg of his road trip, also higher than the EPA highway rating. We set a best new range of 411.7 miles, and had some other impressive long-distance fills in there as well (361.9 and 374.4, for example).
Our occasionally intentional hypermiling helped us bump the Cherokee's lifetime average to 22.0 mpg (up 0.5 mpg from last month), which is dead-on with the EPA combined rating. Say what you (and we) will about the awkward, nine-speed automatic transmission, but it's proving its worth. Now just two weeks into June, things are looking even better, but more on that later.
For now, let's see if we can hold onto our gains through the last month of our test.
Worst Fill MPG: 12.8
Best Fill MPG: 31.0
Average Lifetime MPG: 22.0
EPA MPG Rating: 22 Combined (19 City/27 Highway)
Best Range: 411.7
Current Odometer: 18,865
If you don't know Moab, you ought to school yourself. It's a wonderland of rock, the sort of place they might reject as too over-the-top if they ever decided to make a live-action Wile E. Coyote vs. Roadrunner movie. Two stunning national parks — Arches and Canyonlands — are ridiculously close by, and a few more are in the neighborhood.
Every time I go there, I want to sign up for a geology course when I get home.
Business took me there this time. I could have flown. I should have flown if I'd been thinking straight. But I'll never turn away from a road trip, especially in this part of the country. For reasons that will become clear soon enough, I decided to give the job to our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4.
I had to get there, but I also wanted to see something off the interstate. So I took a slightly longer route that would depart the freeway in Flagstaff, Arizona and head north toward the Four Corners region through the Navajo Nation. I would approach Moab from the south after covering some 788 miles.
It seemed possible to make the trip with only one fuel stop if I picked the right place. The lucky winner was Ash Fork, Arizona, some 55 miles upstream of Flagstaff. The Cherokee's trip odometer read 411.3 miles when I rolled up to the pump, a new "best range" in the Jeep's logbook — but by the thinnest of margins. The previous best had been 411.2 miles.
It took 14.341 gallons to fill the tank, which worked out to 28.7 mpg. Our Jeep Cherokee V6 4x4 carries an EPA highway rating of 27 mpg. The interstate speed limits along my route ranged between 70 and 75 mph, and Ash Fork stands about a mile higher than my starting point in Orange County, California. Color me impressed.
Monument Valley is one of the most notable tourist stops in the Navajo Nation, and it sits on the Utah side of the Utah/Arizona border on highway 163. I did the tourist thing: I stopped at Goulding's Trading Post and took a few pictures.
The geology gets steadily more interesting as you head north. I made another brief stop in Mexican Hat, named for a rock formation that kinda-sorta looks like one. My silly iPhone pictures can't do it justice, especially since my roadside turnout stands some ways off.
Near Blanding, I made a brief dirt-road detour on a path that roughly paralleled the road. After I rejoined the pavement, I kept a steady pace into Moab. These were lonely two-lane back roads with a posted limit of 65 mph. They turned and twisted a bit, and there was a bit of up and down.
The Jeep's trip odometer read 378.3 miles when I rolled into Moab and lined up next to a gas pump. Another 13.151 gallons went in, after which my calculator told me that leg had been run at 28.8 mpg. Not too shabby.
Better still, I had reached my destination.
I know that mileage milestones are just numbers. They don't mean anything in the grand scheme. That said, I've always paid attention when the odometer in my own cars rolled over from a row of nines to a bunch of zeroes. It always felt like something just happened that was worth celebrating, if only for a moment.
That ritual has lost some of its luster since rolling mechanical odometers have given way to graphically-represented ones. There's no longer the rolling tenths digit that heralds the approaching moment, no jerky motion or temporary misalignment of the new zero digits that seemed like some sort of reluctance on the car's part to grow older.
It's much more clinical nowadays. Our 2014 Jeep Cherokee 4x4's odometer simply winked from 19999 to 20000 in an instant. It's similar to the time readout on my microwave oven or coffee maker, but without the winking colon of the passing seconds to give it some sort of rhythm.
The place it happened, on the other hand, was spectacular - and very appropriate for a Jeep.
The spot was about 20 miles upstream of Moab, Utah as I was driving alongside the banks of the Colorado River towards my overnight stop at the Sorrel River Ranch. Castle Valley, Professor Valley and other nearby locales have been the backdrop for many a western movie, and for good reason; this place is simply stunning in every direction you look. You owe it to yourself to come for a visit.
My trip to Moab, Utah in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4 was business-related. What kind of business?
The best kind.
Jeep invited me to participate in an overnight off-road excursion in a 2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, the Trail-Rated version that's more off-road focused than our Limited equipped with the basic Active Drive I four-wheel drive system. The off-road differences between the two are far more significant than red tow hooks and fender flares.
The Trailhawk's Active Drive Lock 4x4 system includes must-have upgrades such as a low-range transfer case and a locking rear differential. A raised suspension and taller P245/65R17 knobby off-road tires combine for an additional 1.6 inches of body height and, more significantly, ground clearance.
The chin of the Trailhawk's front fascia has also been pared back to further improve trail clearance. Taken together, the plastic surgery and taller suspension and tires produce an impressive 29.9-degree approach angle, a massive improvement of 11 degrees over our Limited.
Those are the numbers. In Moab I hoped to see what the Trailhawk could do first hand.
Our first stop was a Jeep Jamboree trail called Hell's Revenge. It's a popular route that features plenty of steep slickrock and numerous rock outcrops that need climbing.
The entry point is a scary-looking knife edge of stone with a sudden drop on either side. You're fine if you stay centered on the rubber marks laid down by those before you. If not, well, it was nice knowing you.
Other steep rocks faces await along the trail. Low range is crucial here, but the Cherokee Trailhawk has another trick up its sleeve: crawl control. Engage it in combination with low range and the Jeep will creep up or down most anything.
In this mode, the shifter doesn't change gears so much as it changes the preset creep speed in nine tiny increments. I didn't need to touch the brakes or the throttle to get up or down this very slope. And the Cherokee is fully capable of tackling stuff like this with the system switched off, too.
The advantage is that the system can work each brake independently, something a human can't do with the brake pedal. It's not for every driver or every situation, but it is a nice tool to have at your disposal if a situation presents itself.
We left the fins and domes of Hell's Revenge after a few hours and headed for a nameless plateau high above the opposite bank of the Colorado River.
The views from up here were absolutely breathtaking.
The road there was a bit more varied and traditional (if anything near Moab could be called traditional). In addition to slickrock, there was sand, washboard, rock ledges, dry creek crossings and more.
More what? Rocks, of course.
Last month I compared a Cherokee and a Trailhawk on the basis of Ramp Travel Index (RTI), and neither one lit the world on fire. Here you can see what 324 points looks like out in the wild.
So I was fully expecting the somewhat frequent wheel lift episodes that happened during the course of our adventure. But the Trailhawk's low-range transfer case, rear locker, selectable terrain mode traction control and crawl control features proved expert at maintaining forward progress anyway.
Suspension articulation is still something you want to maximize, but a shortfall such as this isn't the show-stopper it once was thanks to modern traction systems that can keep the party rolling on three wheels for the foot or so that's required for the airborne tire to regain contact.
Is a Jeep Wrangler more capable? Of course. Would it need as much spotting help? Nope.
But the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk can nevertheless go an impressive ways into the wild on trails that would break a Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5. Our own Jeep Cherokee Limited with Active Drive I could perhaps get slightly farther away from the pavement before it got stuck, but its lack of gearing, tires and underbody clearance make it unsuitable for trails like these.
The Trailhawk, on the other hand, is the real deal. It has enough of the right equipment to get you into places you'd never expect a crossover-based 4x4 to go. If your sights are set on backcountry travel or adventure touring, and not black diamond trails or boulder-hopping for the sake of boulder-hopping, the Trailhawk version of the Cherokee just might live in the off-road sweet spot.
I always enjoy my time in Moab, Utah, but I look forward the road trip to and from the place just as much. But I never like to retrace my steps if I don't have to, so I plotted out a return route that stayed north of the Colorado River.
It could have been 100 percent interstate, but that's rarely very scenic. Besides, I'd been that way before when Kurt and I passed through these parts during our 2013 Tesla Model S coast-to-coast road trip.
So I dipped off the freeway as soon as I could and put the 2014 Jeep Cherokee on a lurching path that zig-zagged south and west through tiny Utah towns such as Hanksville, Escalante and Tropic, before fueling up and regaining the interstate in Cedar City.
The rain began to fall almost immediately, but that didn't make the scenery any less stunning. My route passed by three national parks — Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion — and skirted along the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Cedar Breaks National Monument and Goblin Valley State Park were located along side roads I did not visit.
The weather nixed my plans for exploring these places, but I made note of where I wanted to return with a crew of other Jeeps to do some backcountry camping. It turned into a full-blown downpour with lightning and everything as I approached Escalante, the site of a particularly interesting dirt-road side trip I'd hoped to take.
The road to Hole-in-the-Rock is not advised for the lone traveler in the best of times. On this day, the usually parched landscape of dry gulches and slot canyons shed its permanent drought persona in favor of lightning strikes, flash floods and gooey red mud. There's no cell service out there, no one to pull you free if you get stuck in the rust-colored mud. It could literally be days before they find you.
I stopped at the town's Hole-in-the-Rock roadside museum instead.
As afternoon turned to evening, the narrower roads, mountain terrain and poor weather kept my speed in check. I eventually made it all the way to Cedar City on one tank of gas after 437.1 miles, a new best-range record for the Cherokee. Exactly 15.327 gallons later, my calculator revealed that the Jeep had produced another stellar tank of 28.5 mpg.
From here I planned to head home on Interstate 15, but I was dog-tired. The places I drove past had No Vacancy signs and I didn't feel like calling around to hunt for a room. So I headed south a dozen miles to an interstate rest area, folded down the 60-percent portion of the 60/40 split-folding rear seat, and dozed off in a sleeping bag amidst lightning flashes and heavy rain pelting down on the roof.
Morning dawned clear and bright, and I climbed into the driver's seat and got a very early start. In the name of fuel economy I resisted the temptation to roll along at Utah's 80-mph speed limit, unless there was a downgrade. Top gear in the Cherokee's 9-speed automatic is practically like coasting in neutral when there's a downslope.
That paid off big in the first hour or two because of the interstate's general descent through Utah. On the flat sections and from Arizona onwards, I kept it between 65 and 70 mph.
In the end, I saw some pretty crazy numbers on the dash when I finally rolled up to the pumps at the Shell station near my home in Santa Ana. The Cherokee and I had traveled 438.1 miles — another new best-range performance — but there was still a quarter-tank of fuel to play with. This surprising fact was confirmed by the range meter, which declared I was good to go for another 140 miles.
Astonishingly, the fuel economy meter read 38.4 mpg. But after adding 12.335 gallons the Cherokee's true fuel consumption came out to 35.5 mpg.
That's by far the best tank our 2014 Jeep Cherokee V6 4x4 has ever recorded, and it's a full 8.5 mpg (24 percent) better than its EPA highway rating. Sure, a general downhill trend was in play, but at 5,846 feet, Cedar City isn't nearly as high a starting point as my recent F-150 high sierra trip.
In all, my journey consisted of 1664.8 miles and 55.154 gallons of 87-octane unleaded. That's an average of 30.2 mpg, with a common start and end point that cancels out any elevation effects.
It turns out the Jeep Cherokee's 9-speed automatic is pretty sweet while navigating the interstate, wending its way up and down mountain roads or covering miles across undulating, wide-open spaces. Its broad selection of closely-spaced gears means there's an ideal one for every upgrade, every situation. Along the way it never hunts, never grunts, and there's no reason to doubt its ability to get with the program when the need arises.
This stands in stark contrast to observations made by staffers that live in the densely-populated communities that surround our office. In this environment, the Cherokee's transmission programming isn't nearly as agreeable to those spending the bulk of their time in the hurry-up world of competitive commuting.
Maybe it's this place. There's a lot to take in on the road to Moab even if you never climb out from behind the wheel. Out here there's no sense of urgency, no feeling that you're late for a meeting. On the stunning route to Moab and back, our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4 turns out to be a pretty sweet ride.
Can you believe it? Our 2015 Ford F-150 just suffered a broken windshield and now lightning strikes again. This time it was the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited, and I was driving. It happened just as I rolled in to the city limits of Moab, Utah after nearly 800 miles of incident-free driving.
The rock was big enough that I saw it come off the tire of a car in the opposite lane. The only reason it didn't hit dead center in front of me is because I flinched. The result: a dollar coin-sized star, about head high and a foot to the right of my direct line of sight.
And it was perfectly ugly. Based on its size, I was sure it would grow and take out the entire windshield if I waited to have it filled back in California. I had to do something. Luckily, there was a glass shop in town between my location and the hotel where I would stay that night.
The glass guy warned that the star bordered on being too large to fix permanently. I thought it was worth the $30 risk. If it worked, the Cherokee's windshield would live on. If the crack spread, I'd only be out 30 bucks and wouldn't kick myself for not giving it a shot.
The repair looked pretty good at first, most of it invisible. A couple of small slivers were still apparent, but faint. But the ugly center was nicely filled in. It was no longer a visual distraction.
That changed slightly over the course of my 900-mile drive home. It still looks stable, but a couple of the radial arms are more visible. Maybe it's the brighter sunlight that dominates now that I'm clear of the storms. Maybe they won't break free and become a windshield-spanning crack. Then again, one of them might.
Time will tell, but it feels like $30 well spent.
Call me finicky, but I like being able to see.
It's an occasional problem in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. But it's one that I've remedied.
I find the Cherokee low beams inadequate. Their reach is minimal and there's a hard cut off to accommodate oncoming drivers. Sure, it's all done in the name of safety, which I can appreciate. But last time I checked, being able to see well enough to prudently guide a car at night is also a critical component of safe driving.
Regardless, the trend toward short-reach low beams is a common one among newer cars. I wasn't surprised to find myself reaching for the stalk to click on the high beams when navigating my neighborhood. But I was denied. And the denial came in the form of the warning you see in the above photo.
When I read this notice, I was initially confused. "Automatic High Beams Enabled" sounds like I activated some kind of desirable feature. What it should say is, "Forget About It, Pal - There's Oncoming Traffic." After all, this feature is designed to relieve the crushing burden of dimming your high beams for oncoming traffic.
But it's not that simple. It prevents the use of the high beams in situations where they're genuinely needed, not just when there's oncoming traffic. I was relieved to discover the ability to disable it in the Uconnect settings.
And disable it I did.
There's everyday cargo, and then there's seriously heavy cargo. Our 2014 Jeep Cherokee has plenty of cargo room, especially when you fold the rear seats down. But start filling that area with heavy metal car parts, like a pair of iron Chevy big block heads, and the Cherokee's suspension starts to feel the effects.
It didn't actually get to the point of sagging in the back or anything that extreme. But driving back home after loading all the parts, the Cherokee had a noticeably more wobbly feel. Was it any worse that having the rear seats full of passengers? Hard to say. I've never had three full-size adults back there.
The slightly strained feel wasn't all that surprising. This may be a Jeep, but it's not a J10. It's a compact SUV. It did the job, but I wouldn't recommend loading it this heavy very often.
I recently used our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited to jump start another car. I was glad to discover that the Cherokee makes the process simple. Its battery is easy to find and the terminals are readily available - unlike our former Porsche Macan.
The Macan hides its terminals under the cowl trim, but the Cherokee is old school. Its battery and terminals are obvious at the left front corner of the engine bay. They're not even covered.
That last bit surprised me a little, since anybody working under the hood could drop a wrench across them and create a short. But hey, they make jump-starting easy.
Autonomous cars continue to be a hot topic in transportation today. Silicon Valley tech giants and auto makers have whetted our appetites with small tastes of technologies they've cooked up, from Google's cartoonish interpretation of personal people movers to Bobby, a racetrack-devouring Audi RS7.
On a larger scale, many consumers have already experienced small degrees of autonomous vehicle features, most commonly in parking systems like the one in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited.
These systems have been commercially available in the U.S. since 2006, appearing first in the Lexus LS sedan. With 9 years of development between now and those first-gen systems, I was curious to know how far they've come.
Our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited's ParkSense allows you to select between parallel and perpendicular parking modes, and requires positioning the vehicle a specific way to initiate the parking sequence for each scenario.
To begin the parking sequence, you first press a dash-mounted button that primes the system to begin scanning for a space. Since I was using our parking garage as a testbed, I selected perpendicular mode and proceeded to slowly drive past an open spot as directed.
The system continues to let me drive past the spot, as if to say "nah, I'm sure you'll find one closer to the elevators." I back up and retry the same space. Nope. I back up and crab away from the space and retry.
BINGO. The system realizes that indeed I want to park in that empty spot I've now driven past twice. Except now there's another car behind me, and I'm forced to abort the sequence.
I peel off to a parking lane with less traffic and dive right back into the parking sequence, better educated and with diminishing patience. A couple more quick position adjustments and I've got target-lock on a prime space next to a Toyota Prius. Autonomous parking victory will be mine, and it only took 12 minutes!
Behold, the fruits of these efforts.
Versus the old-school manual way (total time: 10 seconds)
To me, these systems are really only relevant for drivers with skills in the 20th percentile and worse. And even if these vehicles could execute perfect parking maneuvers on every attempt, the time spent to initiate these systems is always more than it would take an average driver to take a few stabs at old-school manual parking.
So until cars like Bobby are driving me to and from the office, I'm keeping autonomy out of my morning parking routine.
On his last road trip in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited, Dan's quick thinking prevented a pesky windshield chip from growing into a full-blown moving violation. But the ghost of that hurtling rock remains, taunting us from the peripherals of sight.
The crack may never move another millimeter, but the psychological effect of this eyesore is beginning to grow the more I see it. How much would it cost to exorcise our windshield demons?
After an initial stare-down with the little nemesis, I noticed a couple of interesting things about the Cherokee's windshield.
There are heating elements for deicing the wipers at the lower corners as well as some fun graphic details that suddenly surface like Easter eggs, now that you're looking closer at things - like a crack in the windshield.
These types of extras are great, until you're required to replace them. A quick phone call to our local Jeep dealer gave us the info we needed.
Rudy, the parts advisor, advised us that the Cherokee's windshield would need to be special-ordered and would run us $604.00 without installation. He then transferred us to the service department for a labor estimate where we were quoted 3.1 hours at a discounted rate of $50/hour. Grand total replacement cost: $759.
By comparison, our Ford F-150's glass replacement set us back $496.50 out the door. That's a 53 percent premium for the Jeep's glass. Five. Three.
If I were the owner of our Cherokee, I would probably ignore the crack at this point until it became an actual problem. Pick your battles.
We spent a year with a 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited and liked it. Mostly.
Its V6 delivered good power and even better torque, which made it a good needle for threading highway traffic. Comfortable seats, a nicely crafted interior and decent off-road ability helped the new-generation Cherokee straddle a unique niche between modern crossover and useable dirt toy.
But its nine-speed automatic transmission came in for sharp rebuke, seemingly always bogged down looking for the highest, slowest gear in a quest for ultimate fuel economy. We can't argue with the results, though. After more than 22,000 miles, we did 0.5 mpg better than the EPA estimate of 22 mpg combined.
The Cherokee's biggest flaw? Its name.
Despite the marketing rap, this Cherokee, even the burly Trailhawk edition, bears little relation to the classic, boxy
unibody predecessor of the 80s and 90s. For some buyers, that's not a bad thing. The last-generation "XJ" Cherokee coasted on its trail credentials until it bowed out in 2001, while its powertrain development was stuck in an 80s loop. Still, some of us, or possibly just me, rejected the new-gen Cherokee as a pretender from the very start.
Read here for more of our collective impressions and final stats on our time with the Jeep.
What We Got
Compact SUVs are among the most popular vehicles sold in America today. Their utility and efficiency, combined with better visibility than midsize sedans, makes them wildly appealing. It's a market that lies directly in the crosshairs of Jeep's latest Cherokee.
We spent 12 months testing a 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4 to see if the new crossover could live up to its namesake while meeting the demands of a highly competitive segment. The Limited is the second highest trim, topped only by the off-road-focused Trailhawk. While the Trailhawk might have provided a more Jeep-like experience, we ordered the Limited model, as it better represents what most buyers will choose. The base Cherokee Sport starts at $22,995, and opting for the Limited trim brings the price up to $28,095.
Selecting the 3.2-liter V6 ($1,495) over the base 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder provided much better drivability and didn't result in a huge hit to fuel economy. Jeep's passive Active Drive I ($2,000) four-wheel-drive system was a must-have for all-weather and all-terrain use. Active Drive II adds low-range gearing but for an extra $995, and was unnecessary for the way we planned to use the Cherokee. The Technology Group package ($2,155), navigation/HD radio ($795) and a nine-speaker audio system ($395) gave us the modern infotainment features.
With the $995 destination charge, our Cherokee stickered at $35,930.
"Push the lever forward for 5th. The gear indicator on the instrument panel changes from 6th to 5th, but nothing seems to happen. Push forward to try 4th. Again, it indicates 4th but there's still no change in revs. Third gear: still nothing. It's like it's freewheeling. It took a downshift to 2nd gear for there to be a noticeable change in revs and some level of engine braking." — Mike Monticello
"Jeep/Chrysler wanted a smooth and refined action to throttle inputs. In this pursuit they damped the throttle so heavily that small inputs made by your foot result in no forward progress whatsoever. Give it a little more pedal and it responds, but it takes its sweet time doing so. This is annoying. Smooth, sure, but annoying." — Jason Kavanagh
"This is not an overtly athletic crossover SUV. It's nothing like our old Mazda CX-5 in personality. Yet the Cherokee is likable in a different way, and the effortless torque has a lot to do with it. Even compared with the powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engines in this class, the V6 is just impressive because it makes for such a relaxed driving experience. Merging and passing requires so little work. It's like the old days." — Erin Riches
"I also like the V6 engine's power, of course. If you're a recovering previous-generation Toyota RAV4 V6 owner, this should be your next vehicle. Mind you, our Jeep is never going to average 25 mpg like our 2012 Honda CR-V and 2014 Mazda CX-5 did, but 22 mpg is a pretty solid average for a vehicle able to move out so decisively in traffic." — Erin Riches
"It took 14.341 gallons to fill the tank, which worked out to 28.7 mpg. Our Jeep Cherokee V6 4x4 carries an EPA highway rating of 27 mpg. The interstate speed limits along my route ranged between 70 and 75 mph, and Ash Fork stands about a mile higher than my starting point in Orange County, California. Color me impressed." — Dan Edmunds
"Whereas the CX-5 is pointy and crisp, the Cherokee is plush and refined. Its ride quality is very good, and not mushy. Absorbent. It picks up its feet over bumps and the steering is geared and weighted appropriately, too. The Cherokee's noise isolation is also quite effective. It feels refined. Long trips like mine are no problem at all for the Jeep. Its seat remained comfortable even after five hours in the saddle. This Jeep Cherokee SUV/wagon/thing doesn't smack you over the head with its goodness. It just is." — Jason Kavanagh
"I absolutely love the front seats in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. Every time I get in, it's like settling into a comfy leather armchair. There's just the right amount of padding and support in the seat bottom. It's soft but not squishy, firm but not stiff. The combination of rich brown leathers doesn't hurt the effect, either." — Kelly Hellwig
"The underfloor storage in our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited keeps small items, like athletic shoes and my 1981 issue of Street Freaks, from ping-ponging around the vehicle's vast expanse of cargo space. Smartly, its four bins vary in size and shape, and they're just deep enough to be truly useful. Access is also well thought out. Jeep engineered a hook-and-tether system so you can quickly suspend the 'floor' from the tailgate jamb, which allows you to use both hands for loading and unloading your items. It's a simple solution, and it could not be easier to use." — Scott Oldham
"When loading up the Cherokee for our Oregon road trip, it became clear that it isn't the cargo hauler its competitors are. We really didn't have that much stuff, but the Cherokee quickly filled up. The large, roll-type cargo cover was immediately removed, destined to remain in Los Angeles, as we needed that extra inch or so of cargo height between its bottom and the top of the backseat." — James Riswick
"As you can see, the instrument cluster uses classic analog gauges separated by a digital screen for all the new stuff. You get the basics at a glance with the option of adding whatever information you want to the center screen. Or you can have nothing at all, like a classic Jeep. It's the best way I've seen of bridging the gap between displaying basic info and more complex information like adaptive cruise control settings and auxiliary engine info." — Ed Hellwig
"'Why's this wood panel here?' Megan asked. It was the first thing she noticed when she sat in the passenger seat of our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. 'It isn't even real wood. Is it supposed to match the brown door panel or something?' 'You're right. This thing feels cheap,' I said. 'But otherwise, it's pretty nice in here, right?' Though neither of us initially thought this piece was real wood, it turns out that it is." — Travis Langness
Audio and Technology
"I headed home a few nights ago for the first time in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. Tried pairing my phone when I jumped in but was met with the above note telling me that the 'Hands-free system is loading. Please wait.' So I waited. And waited. And waited. It became clear after several minutes that the problem wasn't fixing itself. I cycled the ignition several times thinking that would do it. Nope. The notice persisted all the way home. And into the next day." — Josh Jacquot
"Our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited is a great example of how to blend old and new technology in a way that's easy to use. It not only has one of the better user interface setups for its touchscreen, it also has a handful of physical knobs and buttons for the stuff you use most often. The volume and tuning knobs for the radio are big and easy to find without needing to look at them, which is always a big plus. Same goes for the fan knob in the middle. Finding the temperature buttons takes a little getting used to, but eventually you can find them without glancing down, too. For more advanced features you can go to the touchscreen menu." — Ed Hellwig
"Sam stopped in every 20 minutes or so with updates. It was frequent enough to make me feel like I wasn't forgotten. Even when the news was bad, 'My technician called in late for work this morning,' she delivered it in a pleasant manner. The final check-in came at the three-hour mark. She explained, 'My tech determined that an internal failure was causing the problem. I will order a replacement radio and call you when it arrives.'" — Mike Schmidt
"Another radio was ordered.... Two days and a weekend passed before parts arrived. Installation was same-day. This ranks as one of the stranger service experiences I've seen. I don't know if the blame rests with the dealer and our advisor or with another arm of the company, but there was a lack of communication some place. The end result was a delay in our repair of nearly two weeks. That is unacceptable." — Mike Schmidt
"The 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited isn't for everybody, but what it offers that the Honda CR-Vs and Toyota RAV4s of this world do not is the sort of personality that comes from about seven decades of heritage. Now, some could certainly question how much of that heritage applies to a Fiat-based crossover with standard front-wheel drive that looks like nothing that's come before it." — James Riswick
"Personally, I wish Jeep had reserved 'Cherokee' for another time, another product, a sub-$30,000 budget Grand Cherokee that would fill the slot above the new version and even fill a void soon to be left by the FJ Cruiser's departure. A bit of an X3-to-X1 or C-Class-to-CLA-Class strategy. And before you say that the new Cherokee IS a budget Grand Cherokee, no, no it's not. It's a Fiat Dart with higher ground clearance and decent off-road ability. But it's not a Grand Jr." — Dan Frio
Maintenance & Repairs
The Cherokee required routine maintenance at 10,000-mile intervals, though the owner's manual notes that this is the maximum distance between service. If the car is being used in what Jeep refers to as "severe operating conditions," the Cherokee might display a maintenance alert as soon as 3,500 miles after the previous service. These conditions include driving in a dusty or dirty climate, in extreme hot or cold or while towing a trailer.
We brought the Cherokee in twice for scheduled maintenance, once for an oil and filter change at just under 10K miles and a second time at 13K miles for the 10K-mile service. Our total out-of-pocket cost for these services was $120.
The Cherokee was subject to a single recall during our test. It was a software update to the airbag deployment system. This update was performed when we had the radio replaced after we suffered issues with the Bluetooth. The Bluetooth debacle involved multiple trips to the dealer and took the Cherokee out of service for two days. The radio was eventually replaced under warranty after two weeks of delays while the dealer and the manufacturer sorted out the problem.
Fuel Economy and Resale Value
Observed Fuel Economy:
EPA estimates for the Cherokee are 22 combined (19 city/27 highway). We averaged 22.5 mpg over 22,329 miles. Our best tank was 35.5 mpg and the farthest we traveled on one tank was 438.1 miles.
Resale and Depreciation:
The MSRP on the Cherokee was $35,930. After testing the Jeep for one year and 22,329 miles, the Edmunds TMV® Calculator valued the SUV at $25,857 based on a private-party sale. That equates to a substantial 27 percent depreciation, more than the 18 percent depreciation of our long-term 2012 Honda CR-V or the 15 percent of our long-term 2014 Mazda CX-5.
Pros: Comfortable seats. Smooth, refined ride. Quiet, well-appointed interior. Strong engine. Above-average off-road prowess. Affordable regular maintenance.
Cons: Cargo capacity doesn't match its competitors. Slow powertrain response in some situations. Polarizing appearance. Troublesome dealer experience. Subpar resale value.
A strong engine and four-wheel-drive system make the Cherokee the off-roader's choice in the class, though it might not please fans of the original. On-road manners don't suffer despite the Jeep's rugged nature. Cargo space lags behind the competition.
|Total Body Repair Costs:||None|
|Total Routine Maintenance Costs:||$120 (over 12 months)|
|Additional Maintenance Costs:||None|
|Warranty Repairs:||Radio replacement, airbag software update|
|Non-Warranty Repairs:||$759 for a new windshield|
|Scheduled Dealer Visits:||2|
|Unscheduled Dealer Visits:||3|
|Days Out of Service:||2|
|Breakdowns Stranding Driver:||None|
|Best Fuel Economy:||35.5 mpg|
|Worst Fuel Economy:||12.8 mpg|
|Average Fuel Economy:||22.5 mpg|
|True Market Value at service end:||$25,857 (private-party sale)|
|Final Odometer Reading:||22,329 miles|
The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.