2014 Jeep Cherokee First Look

"We were expecting it to be rather polarizing," admits Mike Manley, Jeep's brand president and CEO -- but Chrysler executives weren't expecting the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee to be this polarizing. Although Jeep hoped to unveil its new D-segment crossover for the very first time at the 2013 New York Auto Show, the automaker was forced to tip its hand weeks ago when photos of the new crossover leaked online, and feedback from press, pundits, and potential customers wasn't exactly as warm and fuzzy as Chrysler would have hoped for.

We're not surprised by the initial reaction. Despite the historic name, the 2014 Cherokee bears little resemblance to any past or present Jeep product, concept, or design language. Even the last Jeep concept that debuted at a major auto show -- the Renegade hybrid-electric buggy, shown in 2009 -- retained the familiar seven-slot Jeep grille and round headlamps. The Cherokee does not, for while the marketing team looked to the past for a name, Jeep designers were trying to predict the future.

"2019 is when this particular [Cherokee design] will go out of production," says Mark Allen, head of Jeep design, "so our heads were in 2019. When this goes out of production, we still want it to look at home on the road. We think it should look good for years to come."

Time will test that prediction, but Allen's other claim that the 2014 Cherokee ushers in a "little different look" for the Jeep brand rings true today, albeit as an understatement. The seven-slot grille cascades over the beveled upper edge of the front fascia, and is immediately surrounded by two razor-thin LED light assemblies, which stretch back deep into the front fenders. Those may look like headlamps, but they're only turn signals and running lamps. Headlamps are instead placed within two square bulges set below the turn signal assemblies; fog lamps are placed even lower in the front fascia, alongside a gaping lower grille opening.

Sheetmetal aft of the A-pillars is far less controversial. The rakish roof, tapered D-pillars, and strong shoulders are reminiscent of the larger Grand Cherokee, although the Cherokee's form is a little more sinewy. Allen says the trapezoidal wheel arches are another signature Jeep cue, and that the kick down in the front window opening is inspired by the Wrangler's optional half-doors. Out back, LED tail lamps ride high, and actually cut into the wrap-around backlight. Designers placed reflectors and license plate mounting points low in the bumper, leaving the tailgate stamping devoid of much ornamentation, apart from a taut, horizontal character line. Cladding along the Cherokee's lower edges is kept to a minimum on most trim levels save for the off-road Trailhawk, which sees the grey plastic material stretch up to the headlamps up front. Trailhawk models also receive a unique lower grille with red tow hooks, a blacked-out hood decal, larger fender flares, beefier skid plates, and larger 18-inch wheels inspired by those used on the Wrangler Rubicon.

What lies beneath the Cherokee's surface also breaks new ground. This is the first Jeep product with Fiat roots, as its platform -- the same Compact U.S. Wide architecture used in the Dodge Dart -- is derived from that of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Fiat Grande Punto. Like those cars, unibody structure incorporates MacPherson struts in front and a four-link, coil-sprung arrangement in back.

Although the Dart GT's 184-hp 2.4-liter I-4 serves as the Cherokee's base engine, the SUV is also available with a new 3.2-liter variant of Chrysler's familiar 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6. Despite losing four-tenths of a liter in displacement, the engine only loses about 20 ponies, as it still cranks out 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque. Regardless of the engine ordered, all Cherokees are fitted with Chrysler's long-awaited nine-speed automatic transmission, a planetary-type transmission licensed from ZF, which also supplies it for use in the Range Rover Evoque. The gearbox features a 9.81 ratio spread, and plays a big part in helping front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder Cherokee models attain up to 31 mpg on the highway.

But the Cherokee just wouldn't be a Jeep without the availability of four-wheel drive. Like the Grand Cherokee, three four-wheel drive systems are available. Active Drive I features a single-speed transfer case mounted with the rear axle (Jeep calls the bundle a "power transfer unit"), and functions like a full-time all-wheel-drive setup. Step up to the Active Drive II system, and you gain a two-speed transfer unit with low-range gearing. Both units are available on all Cherokee grades, but the Active Drive Lock system, which combines the Active Drive II transfer unit with a locking rear axle, is standard only on the Cherokee Trailhawk. Trailhawks are also the only Cherokee models to offer 8.6 inches of ground clearance, 28.5-degree approach angles, 22.8-degree departure angles, and earn Jeep's vaulted "Trail Rated" seal of approval. All awd Cherokees receive a Select-Terrain control that amends stability control and driveline torque split settings for various conditions, while Active Drive II and Active Drive Lock models gain both hill ascent and hill descent controls.

We suspect most customers will employ the Cherokee's various on-road aids more frequently than they'll play with its off-road abilities. There's quite a bit of interesting equipment within the Cherokee's handsome cabin, including active cruise control, lane departure collision warning, and new park assist functions that help guide drivers during reverse perpendicular and parallel parking maneuvers. The same 7-inch LCD gauge cluster is available on higher-spec Cherokee models, as is Chrysler's 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which can also be paired with new UConnnect Access connectivity suite. A six-speaker audio system is standard, but an upgraded nine-speaker system -- complete with subwoofer -- is optional. An SD card slot, line-level input, and USB audio input are placed at the front of the center console, while wireless smartphone charging -- a feature previously available through Mopar's accessory catalog -- is a factory-installed option.

Jeep aims to push the 2014 Cherokee into production in Toledo, Ohio, this summer -- but honestly, it can't arrive soon enough. Dealers are pining for a product to sell that not only slots between the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, but also has a chance of wooing shoppers looking for an efficient and modern crossover. It's also the lynchpin of Jeep's future global aspirations, as the brand hopes to move a quarter-million globally each year once the assembly line reaches its full pace.

Will Jeep purists argue over the use of the Cherokee name on a Fiat-based crossover? Probably, but given the 2014 Cherokee follows in the XJ's footsteps of being an accessible, more efficient, suburbanite-friendly Jeep that retains some off-road chops, perhaps it's a fitting choice after all.

I've owned two TJs (2004, 1997), and currently drive a JK (2012) 2-door. My wife bought an '02 Liberty when they first came out in 2001, and still has it. She is mildly interested in the Cherokee, but wants to see it in person before making a buying decision between that product or a 4-door Wrangler.I say this new Cherokee looks almost exactly like a Ford Escape ... and I'm baffled as to why Jeep would produce an almost exact replica of a competitor's product that clearly does not make use of traditional Jeep styling that has been popular among buyers? Maybe my wife will like how it rides and handles, but my prediction is that she'll opt for the mall crawler Wrangler. Too bad the Jeep designers just don't seem to get it.
myke Clarkson
I have owned three Jeeps, two wranglers, one liberty. I was thinking of buying my wife the new Cherokee when it came out, but not now. NO WAY. This thing should be recalled the second it comes out on principle alone.I put this piece in the same category as the Fiat's themselves. What is this? You call that a Jeep? 
Jeep is a tough brand, with military heritage. This car looks like it should come with a tampon dispenser. 
One word review... AWFUL.
Doug Dusenberry
The Compass and Patriot were hard to stomach but it now crystal clear that the designers at Jeep have lost touch with, and are wrecking, a truly classic brand.  It is impossible to believe that this design is in the lineage with the CJ, the Wrangler, the Wagoneer and the real Cherokee.  
You all who don't like the new Cherokee, just keep talking.  Then when I go to my local dealer, I should be able to buy one at a reasonable price!
Janonathon Sminthernet
*RECH* oh my god that is the worst looking thing i've ever seen. Get it out of here. Kill it with fire! etc. Bring back and STICK WITH the "classic" look. NO JEEP needs to appear aerodynamic, or whatever they were trying to go for. They're JEEPS! It looks like a Pontiac Aztec with a grill update. Sorry, it just DOES. esp in this pic.http://www.automobilemag.com/auto_shows/new_york/2013/1303_2013_jeep_cherokee/photo_27.html
Mario Gutierrez
That new front end is going to take some getting used to. Don't get me wrong, I love jeeps but this thing looks more like a mommy wagon than a true off road SUV.
Congratulations to JEEP for the ugliest new car front end since the Lexus IS.  First Acura, then Lexus, now Jeep.  Sheesh.  The automakers need a good plastic surgeon to get rid of all the ugly noses nowadays.
Congratulations to JEEP for creating a off road vehicle that has a design and feel that is appropriate to its production end date in 2019, as well as its first production date in 2013.  With less plastic looking plastic they might send the competition running, by adding some class and quality feel to this market. Since it shares transmissions with the Range Rover Evoque, why can't it be a competitor at a lower cost, while knocking out of the market the other ordinary crossover junk.
Steve Y.
I think this new Cherokee looks great and is the first Jeep model in many years that makes me consider buying one.  I'd rather drive something that stands out than another boring Toyota or Honda.
Where are those round head lights that distinguish the Jeep brand from all other brands ? I like the design ,but this vehicle should be re-branded and sold as a Fiat or a Dodge.I would of liked to see Chrystler produce a sleeker version of the Wrangler ,something that captures the spirit of Jeep,there is nothing in this design that conveys that. If we lined up ten different cars in a parking lot and removed all signatures that identify them,and if one of them was a jeep,the jeep should stand out from all the rest.If we did this exercise using the 2014 cherokee,it would be lost in a sea of modern design.This vehicle could easily be mistaken for anythig else than a Jeep.Nice design but not Jeep worthy.
Van K
This looks nothing like an Aztec (or the nearly as bad GT5 or CrossTour for that matter). It's not a great design, but it's not ugly or boring. Looking at most of it's bland competitors, it's better than average.
Bring on the Alfa's!
Love it! Keep it up Jeep! Just to go overboard on the nest Wrangler! I would like to see that Diesel V6 in the New Cherokee and it will be my next vehilcle in the TrailHawk trim. Get over the Aztec comparison fools! 
James Procell
Walter White will replace his old Aztec with this hideous thing.
Hamadi Dali
cheroker oui met priver pas limousie
David Barber
Didn't anyone tell FIAT that the Aztec was already a major flop? Come on Tony!!!
A contemporary Jeep...much like what Range Rover did with the Evoque. We love it and think it will look even better in person. Now, let's hope that Chrysler prices the Cherokee right!
Phillip Morris
Reminds Isuzu vehicross
Christian Davenport
Really Jeep? Some car designer is sitting back thinkin this looks good? Mix an old Tuscan, with an Aztec, throw in a little old Tribeca and voila - dated & ugly
Alonso Lobo
Alonso Lobo
Matthew Gorman
It looks like what the Pontiac Aztec would look like if it were still alive today
Jose M. Rivera
Aztek 2.0
Tim Lucas
c'mon people, it's not that bad.
Kyle MacDermaid
Kyle MacDermaid
Best comment is best.
Maurice Robertson
I can't decide which is uglier: this or the Nissan Juke?
Marc Hamady
Brandt Love
This brings back flashbacks of the Aztec and Rendezvous. Hmm, where are those SUVs now? Horrible design.
What's the base price?
Sergiu Covalciuc
Beautiful. I bet it looks even better on the road.
Chris Smith
Harvey Theriault
If the headlights of a vehicle are its eyes, then this one is too shy and faggoty to be called a Jeep. I hate the black plastic at the bottom. The console should be mounted high like a Range Rover or a Cayenne. And yes...the trapezoidal shapes need to go.
Raymond Doherty
Can't believe the front on this thing, what a disaster.....
Simon Emge
Jason Kim
Not over design is complete shit
Eric Cognag Johnson
ABS Auto
Alex Kapolchok
I'm having flashbacks of the Pontiac Aztec!!! Someone slap me!
Steven Barahona
It's ugly sorry jeep I really like u guys but please go back to the drawing broad on the front!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)
Poorana Chandran
the front part is looks like a garden lizard....
Jose Antonio Diez
Note to Jeep designers: Don't try to make a Hyundai, nor try to make a copy of the japanese Hondas and Toyotas-- you have in your hands the history of a true all-american brand with a strong image. Try to build on that, don't destroy it by copying uglyness. Jeep fans and buyers know well what they want. ASK THEM ABOUT IT!!!
Chris Roberts
Why? It's really ugly!
Jose Antonio Diez
Just fire the guy who designed this 'fake' Jeep!
Brian Hankey
Sure is ugly.
Round headlights are nice, but not as efficient or as effective as the newer lighting systems available, such as diodes.  Design and technology has to change or we would all be still driving Model T's.  Okay, maybe Ford would have a new dynamic alternate color to black, you could have METALLIC BLACK, also.....lol.
myke Clarkson
@ZipQuote Price... should be free. That is all it's worth.
myke Clarkson
@Maurice Robertson It does look like the Nissan Puke a bit doesn't it?
myke Clarkson
@lazard47@gmail.com Should be free.
@Harvey Theriault Think outside the BOX dude!

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