2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited: That's Not a Cherokee
September 26, 2014
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.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor