2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited: Oregon Road Trip Notes
January 13, 2015
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.
Filling up in the shadow of Mt. Shasta in Weed. Pretty much the last chance to pump your own gas before someone else has to do it for you in Oregon.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 9,400 miles