New Car Reviews

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited – Four Seasons Wrap-Up

Miles to Date: 23,508

Long-Term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Update: Winter 2016 ( 5 of 5 ) Miles to date: 23,508

When the news broke that the hallowed Cherokee nameplate would be slapped on a crossover destined to see far more mall parking lots than trailheads, Jeep traditionalists howled. How, they asked, could the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee, which shares its platform with the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200, be considered a real Jeep? Would it preserve any semblance of its forebear’s rough and rugged rep? Or were those days gone forever, left to tumble down the hill of history?
As it turns out, mainstream consumers aren’t occupied with these sorts of questions. The Cherokee has become one of Jeep’s best-sellers, a driving force behind the brand’s renaissance. With its chunky, purposeful looks and promise of superior off-road prowess, it’s something no other midsize crossover is—a Jeep—whether the old-schoolers like it or not.

In our quest to see what the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee was all about, we decided to spec one as many regular buyers would. This meant ruling out the Cherokee Trailhawk, the toughest variant of the bunch. Instead we opted for the Cherokee Limited 4×4 with the 3.2-liter V-6 ($1,495 over the base four-cylinder), a blend of capability with useful comfort-and-convenience equipment. The Limited trim already comes with modern tech including keyless entry, remote start, and a backup camera, as well as winter-friendly heated seats and steering wheel.
We put each of Jeep’s Selec-Terrain modes to the test over four seasons of daily duty.
To that we added the Technology Group ($2,155), which bundles safety features such as adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic park assist. And, of course, we planned to have a little fun, so we also opted for Jeep’s more capable Active Drive II 4×4 system ($995), with its low-range option, off-road suspension, and hill descent control.

Before we really got a chance to see what the Cherokee was made of, we were immediately impressed by its quiet ride and spacious cabin heavy on soft padding and leather accents. “Say what you want about abandoning traditional Jeep values, this Jeep offers what people want in their cars these days,” said daily news editor Joey Capparella.

Everyone praised the Cherokee’s comfortable seats, thick-rimmed steering wheel, and intuitive Uconnect infotainment system with its 8.4-inch screen (navigation was $795 extra), which responded instantly to inputs even when touched with gloved fingertips. Automatically activating the seat and steering-wheel heaters as part of the remote start system are the kinds of thoughtful details that surely have won over buyers in snowbelt states.


And although we wish the liftover height for the rear cargo area wasn’t as tall, the Cherokee earned high marks for utility on our many errands and road trips. “Needed to haul four unassembled cocktail tables,” said Detroit bureau chief Todd Lassa. “Seats fold down easily, and the cargo cover is a cinch to remove. I really dig that the front passenger seatback flips forward, too.”

The Cherokee proved a pleasant commuter with its well-tuned ride, handling balance, and carlike road manners, whether tooling around the city or at speed out on the highway. “The Cherokee’s structurally rigid platform resists twisting over stretches of pavement with ferocious chuckholes, and it responded alertly to steering and braking inputs,” chimed in contributor Ronald Ahrens. Even videographer and seasoned off-roader Sandon Voelker, who recently bought a lifted Cherokee XJ, had to admit how well this new SUV comported itself. “I’m glad we didn’t get the Trailhawk,” he said. “This Cherokee is perfect for highway commuting and daily driving.”

But sadly, the Jeep’s automatic transmission let us down. Editors stuffed the logbook full of complaints about the nine-speed automatic, using words such as “abysmal,” “clunky,” “unbearable,” and “confused.” Daily news editor Jake Holmes had a serious bone to pick: “This transmission is lumpy, lazy, and totally unpredictable. It frequently finds itself in the wrong gear, and I feel like Congress has time to pass legislation between shifts.” We constantly battled the unresponsive throttle, a maddening stubbornness to upshift or downshift at the proper time, and odd delays when shifting between reverse and drive. One editor was so jarred by a jerky downshift he spilled coffee all over his lap. Despite the V-6’s adequate 271 horsepower, the Cherokee always felt like it was hamstrung by its gearbox.
Jeep eventually announced a service bulletin to address the transmission’s issues, although the fix produced mixed results. Shift quality improved, but the unresponsive throttle, reluctance to downshift, and tendency to hold a lower gear way too long remained. “Like our Four Seasons Dodge Dart, this powertrain is a complete deal-breaker for what would otherwise be a very compelling package,” said Holmes. It wasn’t all bad, however. We did manage to best the EPA’s 21 mpg combined rating with a final average of 22.6 mpg.

During its stay, we decided the Cherokee could use some new gear, so we picked out a handful of accessories from the Mopar catalog. While the Thule roof rack and cross rails ($307) and ski carrier ($216) added welcome functionality, they looked all wrong with the Jeep’s styling and, worse, introduced unwelcome wind noise. We were much happier with the all-weather cargo mat ($110), slush mats ($100), and emergency kit ($97).
Get Mopar’s Thule roof rack for functionality, not aesthetics.
But neither powertrain nor aesthetic frustrations could stop us from putting the Cherokee to the test over its 23,508 miles and four seasons with us. Whether it was road trips to Milwaukee, Nashville, or northern Michigan, splashing through flash-flooded roads in Detroit, or braving 16 inches of snow in a blizzard (aided by a set of Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1 winter tires ordered through Tire Rack; $736.40, including mounting and balancing), we often turned to the Jeep to tackle the inevitable obstacles life and nature threw our way.
We also pushed the Cherokee’s boundaries to see how it would perform off the beaten track. Voelker hit some dirt trails on his family farm, and we later entered it into an ice-racing event on a frozen lake. “More sorority crossover than overlander,” concluded Voelker. “Lots of fun, but there’s only so much you can do without tow hooks or a locking differential. Probably better than your average crossover, though.” And while we never got stuck shredding snow and ice out on the lake, we were the butt of many jokes as Subaru and Audi drivers muttered the northern equivalent of “bless their heart.”
When Mother Nature threw down her savage gauntlet, we remembered why it’s great to have a Jeep.
The 2014 Jeep Cherokee isn’t exactly the rugged rock-crawler of old, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. It certainly is working for the brand, as more people than ever are flocking to Jeep for its happy medium of capability, utility, and modern convenience. And despite its bumbling transmission, the new, modern Cherokee confidently crested the hill of our expectations.

Pros & Cons

+ Carlike handling plus mild off-road abilities
+ Great interior materials and technologies
+ More personality than your average crossover
– Clunky and confused transmission
– High liftover height for the rear cargo space
– Fuel economy of a V-6, usable power of a four-cylinder


2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4×4 Costs

Mileage
23,508
Warranty
3-yr/36,000-mile basic limited warranty
5-yr/100,000-mile powertrain
5-yr/100,000-mile roadside assistance
Scheduled Maintenance
10,759 mi: Oil change, oil filter, $0
21,607 mi: Oil change, oil filter, cabin air filter replaced, tire rotation, software flash, $0
Warranty Repairs
21,035 mi: Replaced broken door handle, software updates, $0
Recalls
16,668 mi: Software updates to transmission control module, body control module, radio frequency hub, powertrain control, instrument panel cluster
Out-Of-Pocket
10,759 mi: Purchase, mount, and balance Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1 winter tires, $736.40
10,759 mi: Purchase and install Mopar roof rack and cross bars, ski carrier, rock rails, all-weather cargo mats, slush mats, emergency kit, $2,244.44
16,688 mi: Four-wheel alignment, $99.95
19,201 mi: Nail removal from front-right winter tire, $24.95
20,689 mi: Reinstall OEM tires, $100
Fuel Consumption:
EPA city/highway/combined:
19/26/21 mpg
Observed: 22.6 mpg
Cost Per Mile
(Fuel, service, winter tires)
$0.18
($0.76 including depreciation)
Trade-In Value
$21,800
*Estimate based on information from Intellichoice

  • Our Test Results
  • 0–60 mph 8.0 sec
  • 60-0 mph 122.2 ft
  • 1/4–mile 16.3 sec @ 87 mph
  • Skidpad N/A

Overview

  • Body style 4-door SUV
  • Accommodation 5-passenger
  • Construction Steel unibody
  • Base price (with dest.) $30,990
  • As tested $36,430

Powertrain

  • Engine 24-valve DOHC V-6
  • Displacement 3.2 liters (198 cu in)
  • Power 271 hp @ 6500 rpm
  • Torque 239 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
  • Transmission 9-speed automatic
  • Drive 4-wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy 19/26/21 mpg (city/hwy/combined)

Chassis

  • Steering Electrically assisted
  • Lock-to-lock 2.7 turns
  • Turning circle 38.0 ft
  • Suspension, Front Strut-type, coil springs
  • Suspension, Rear Multilink, coil springs
  • Brakes F/R Vented discs/discs
  • Wheels 18 x 7.0-inch
  • Tires Continental ProContact TX
  • Tire size 225/60R-18

Measurements

  • Headroom F/R 39.4/38.5 in
  • Legroom F/R 41.1/40.3 in
  • Shoulder room F/R 57.6/55.1 in
  • Wheelbase 106.3 in
  • Track F/R 62.7/62.7 in
  • L x W x H 182.0 x 73.2 x 67.3 in
  • Passenger capacity 103.4 cu ft
  • Cargo capacity (rear seats up/down) 24.6/54.9 cu ft
  • Weight 4044 lb
  • Weight dist. F/R 57/43%
  • Fuel capacity 15.9 gal
  • Est. fuel range 334 miles
  • Fuel grade 89 octane (premium unleaded)

Equipment

  • standard equipment

    • 18-inch polished aluminum wheels
    • Jeep Active Drive I 4-wheel drive
    • Selec-Terrain system
    • Hill start assist
    • Trailer sway damping
    • Passive entry and pushbutton ignition
    • Remote start system
    • Rear backup camera
    • Dual-zone automatic climate control
    • Power windows
    • Uconnect audio system with 8.4-inch screen
    • Bluetooth
    • SiriusXM satellite radio w/3-month trial subscription
    • Heated front seats
    • Heated steering wheel
    • 8-way power driver seat
    • Cruise control
    • Tilt-and-telescopic steering column
    • LED DRLs and tail lamps

Options

  • technology group – $2155

    • Parallel and perpendicular park assist
    • Blind spot warning
    • Rear cross-path detection
    • Forward collision warning with crash mitigation
    • Lane departure warning
    • Adaptive cruise control
    • Advanced brake assist
    • Rain-sensing wipers
    • Automatic high beams
  • 3.2-liter V-6 – $1495
  • Active drive II – $995 Hill descent control
  • navigation – $795

    • HD radio
    • 1-year subscription to XM Traffic/Travel Link