By John Stewart
The ’14 Jeep Cherokee mid-size SUV debuts a new exterior with fluid, exterior lines. The rugged, protective lower body conveys traditional Jeep styling cues.
The Cherokee name returns to the Jeep portfolio for the ’14 model year, replacing the Jeep Liberty in the lineup. Judging by the styling, engineering, and content choices, this iteration of the Cherokee will get far more consideration among outdoor recreationalists than the Liberty ever did. The all-new ’14 Jeep Cherokee will be offered with a nine-speed automatic transmission, fuel-economy improvements of more than 45% (versus the outgoing Liberty model), and more than 70 advanced safety and security features. The newest Jeep can be ordered with any of three 4x4 systems and a choice of two engines.
According to Jeep, the Cherokee is the first mid-size SUV to feature rear-axle disconnect, resulting in reduced energy loss when 4x4 capability isn’t needed, improving fuel efficiency. The rear-axle disconnect seamlessly switches between two- and four-wheel drive for full-time torque management and does not require input from the driver.
The Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk edition is designed with enthusiasts and outdoor recreationalists in mind. The Trailhawk includes, as standard equipment, aggressive approach and departure angles, complements of the unique front and rear fascias, 1-in. factory lift, Jeep Active Drive Lock with locking rear differential, skid plates and signature red tow hooks. The locking rear differential is selectable in any low-range terrain mode but will lock automatically when in certain modes, such as “Rock,” to maximize tractive effort at the tire patch that can support it.
By virtue of the extra off-road equipment, the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk has an approach angle of 29.8 degrees, a departure angle of 32.1 degrees and breakover angle of 23.3 degrees. Running ground clearance is 8.7 in.
FIAT Group architecture is the basis for the underpinnings of the all-new ’14 Jeep Cherokee. The ’14 Jeep Cherokee’s body structure has a high-strength steel content of roughly 65%. Hot stamped-, high-strength- and ultra-high-strength steel are used to construct a strong, lightweight, solid vehicle architecture.
Chrysler Group’s 16-valve, 2.4L Tigershark MultiAir 2 I-4 engine comes standard in the all-new ’14 Jeep Cherokee. The engine delivers an EPA rating of 22 city/31 highway/25 combined for 4x2. The 2.4L produces 184 hp (137 kW) and 171 lb.-ft. (232 Nm) of torque and offers a driving range on a tank of gasoline of nearly 500 miles.
The available new 3.2L Pentastar V6 engine is the first derivative of the 3.6L Pentastar V6, named one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines three years running. The 3.2L Pentastar V6 engine produces 271 hp, 239 lb.-ft. of torque and delivers best-in-class V6 towing of 4,500 lbs. The 3.2L Pentastar engine has an EPA fuel-economy rating of 19 city/28 highway/22 combined for 4x2 models.
The Jeep Cherokee has a new front independent suspension with MacPherson struts and a new rear independent multi-link suspension. The front suspension provides 6.7 in. of travel while the rear suspension provides up to 7.8 in. of travel for better articulation. The isolated rear cradle, aluminum front crossmember and superior torsional rigidity all contribute to the quieter, smoother ride and superior handling characteristics drivers will experience in the Cherokee.
The ’14 Cherokee is being built in the Toledo plant that has assembled Jeep vehicles for many decades. The Cherokee launch has been delayed while Chrysler sorts out technical complications associated with calibrating the various powertrain combinations. The new Cherokee was originally scheduled to appear in dealerships early in the third quarter, but no announcement has been made to update the new target on-sale date. Car magazine reviewers have suggested that the Cherokee will be a strong competitor in the segment, which includes the Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota RAV-4 and Honda CRV.