2014 Jeep Cherokee: Road Trip to Moab, Utah
June 17, 2015
If you don't know Moab, you ought to school yourself. It's a wonderland of rock, the sort of place they might reject as too over-the-top if they ever decided to make a live-action Wile E. Coyote vs. Roadrunner movie. Two stunning national parks — Arches and Canyonlands — are ridiculously close by, and a few more are in the neighborhood.
Every time I go there, I want to sign up for a geology course when I get home.
Business took me there this time. I could have flown. I should have flown if I'd been thinking straight. But I'll never turn away from a road trip, especially in this part of the country. For reasons that will become clear soon enough, I decided to give the job to our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4.
I had to get there, but I also wanted to see something off the interstate. So I took a slightly longer route that would depart the freeway in Flagstaff, Arizona and head north toward the Four Corners region through the Navajo Nation. I would approach Moab from the south after covering some 788 miles.
It seemed possible to make the trip with only one fuel stop if I picked the right place. The lucky winner was Ash Fork, Arizona, some 55 miles upstream of Flagstaff. The Cherokee's trip odometer read 411.3 miles when I rolled up to the pump, a new "best range" in the Jeep's logbook — but by the thinnest of margins. The previous best had been 411.2 miles.
It took 14.341 gallons to fill the tank, which worked out to 28.7 mpg. Our Jeep Cherokee V6 4x4 carries an EPA highway rating of 27 mpg. The interstate speed limits along my route ranged between 70 and 75 mph, and Ash Fork stands about a mile higher than my starting point in Orange County, California. Color me impressed.
Monument Valley is one of the most notable tourist stops in the Navajo Nation, and it sits on the Utah side of the Utah/Arizona border on highway 163. I did the tourist thing: I stopped at Goulding's Trading Post and took a few pictures.
The geology gets steadily more interesting as you head north. I made another brief stop in Mexican Hat, named for a rock formation that kinda-sorta looks like one. My silly iPhone pictures can't do it justice, especially since my roadside turnout stands some ways off.
Near Blanding, I made a brief dirt-road detour on a path that roughly paralleled the road. After I rejoined the pavement, I kept a steady pace into Moab. These were lonely two-lane back roads with a posted limit of 65 mph. They turned and twisted a bit, and there was a bit of up and down.
The Jeep's trip odometer read 378.3 miles when I rolled into Moab and lined up next to a gas pump. Another 13.151 gallons went in, after which my calculator told me that leg had been run at 28.8 mpg. Not too shabby.
Better still, I had reached my destination.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 19,969 miles