2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited: Where's the Engine Braking?
August 20, 2014
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.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 2,233 miles