2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited: Road Trip Snow Mode
January 14, 2015
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.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 10,390 miles
The Cherokee alongside Bend's Drake Park and Mirror Pond.
Prior to the grand dump in Bend, we ventured up to Mt. Bachelor for some inner tubing.