2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited: Superior Adaptive Cruise Control
January 19, 2015
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.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 10,390 miles