2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk: Around the Block

Christopher Nelson
2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Around the Block

Our first opportunity to drive the 2014 Jeep Cherokee was in Moab, Utah, where the Trailhawk version showed off-road chops that earned it the brand’s revered “Trail-Rated” badge. This capability helps quell the doubters who say that this unibody crossover based on the same Fiat-sourced platform as the Dodge Dart can never live up to the Cherokee name. However important this kind of rock-crawling, sand-kicking ability may be for Jeep's reputation, it doesn’t matter much to most shoppers in the compact crossover segment. Just look at the best-selling Honda CR-V and Ford Escape: neither crossover even offers a full-time four-wheel-drive system, let alone an available locking rear differential and hill descent control like the Jeep’s. We spent a few weeks in a 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk to see if even the most off-road-oriented Cherokee can live up to the on-road-biased demands of today’s typical crossover buyer.

This particular Cherokee test car was nearly loaded, with the optional 271-hp, 3.2-liter V-6 engine, the Trailhawk-exclusive Active Drive Lock four-wheel-drive system, and various luxury options like navigation, leather, automatic climate control, and a heated steering wheel—our personal favorite for the way it helps us get through Michigan winters. All of this makes for an as-tested price of $36,120. That’s a lofty sum for sure, but as associate editor Greg Migliore says, “the price is reasonable considering the equipment level, and it does make a style statement.” We’ve yet to come to a consensus on whether or not we like the Cherokee’s controversial, wedge-like front end, but self-proclaimed “Jeep guy” Migliore is in favor of it. It’s a design that looks less extreme in the flesh than in photos.

We weren’t at all torn about our Cherokee’s impressively trimmed interior. The stitched leather and subtle wood and aluminum accents in our upper trim model gave off a high-class, baby-Grand Cherokee vibe. That’s a welcome change from the cheap, plasticky interiors of other compact Jeeps like the Compass, Patriot, and the now-defunct Liberty, which the Cherokee replaces. We found rear-seat room to be competitive with other small crossovers too, although copy editor Rusty Blackwell notes that the Cherokee’s high cargo floor compromises space behind the seats. Lesser Cherokees than the Trailhawk have a compact spare tire in place of our tester’s full-size spare, which opens up more storage space below the cargo floor.

Once underway, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee’s upscale demeanor continues to impress. Despite the aggressive all-terrain tires that come standard on the Trailhawk, the Cherokee is quiet on the highway, composed over potholes and frost heaves, and surprisingly agile through the turns as well. The steering is heavy but accurate, and the Cherokee’s chassis is tuned for a sportier feel than softly sprung competitors like the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue. Power from the V-6 is “more than adequate,” executive editor Todd Lassa says. He praises the nine-speed automatic for shifting “smoothly and seamlessly.” It appears that the Cherokee’s production delays for last-minute transmission calibration paid off in the end.

“The Cherokee feels bigger and more substantial than the intended competition,” Lassa continues. “Because I drove it 50 miles home in a snowstorm, this CUV's substance felt reassuring.” This sense of solidity is backed up by the Jeep Cherokee’s hefty 300-600 lbs of extra weight compared to other compact crossovers. This hurts fuel economy, despite the nine-speed transmission’s mpg-friendly gearing. We only got an indicated 17 mpg in 200 miles of driving with more time spent on the highway than around town. Non-Trailhawk Cherokee models with lighter-duty four-wheel-drive systems and/or the four-cylinder engine achieve considerably higher EPA mileage ratings, but if Jeep really wants to challenge the class leaders in this area, then the Cherokee needs to lose some weight.

Migliore calls the 2014 Cherokee “a modern SUV that’s right for the times.” The Cherokee has sold extremely well in its first two months, rivaling the popular Wrangler, which was the best-selling Jeep in 2013. After years of getting by with subpar compact Jeeps like the Compass and Patriot, this new Jeep Cherokee finally gives Jeep a crossover that can compete on its own merits.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

Price As Tested: $36,120 (Trailhawk 4x4)
Engine: 3.2-liter V-6
Power:271 hp
Torque: 239 lb-ft
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Drive: 4-wheel
Fuel Economy: 18/25/20 mpg city/highway/combined
Cargo Capacity: 29.7 cu ft (seats up)
Diego Alejandro Rojas Orozco
legal
Craig Stishenko
Automobile Magazine being that you tested the "trail hawk" the most off road capable Jeep currently available outside the Rubicon. Did you test out it's Navigation system off road at all? That is one thing i'd really like to see in an off road oriented vehicle, a fantastic off road Navigation system....
Gillian Machidi
100 percent owned by fiat will ruin 100% Jeep
Samuel O Lee
The front fascia of the new Cherokee makes the Fiat Multipla look positively attractive by comparison. The Trailhawk Edition in blacked-out gloss grey is acceptable-looking though.
Samuel O Lee
Chrysler's Chief of Design Ralph Gillies does not have very good taste in automotive design. I predict that he will be gone by the end of 2015 after Chrysler sets a record low in sales. On the other hand, I think Chrysler's Head of Interior Design Klaus Busse is doing a fantastic job.
Daniel Houck
My son and I sat in this crossover at the Delaware auto show lst fall and we fell in love.  I can't swing the price of a new car, so I'm very glad to see these selling well. I can't wait to pick up a 2014 Jeep Cherokee in 2016. I hope I can find a low milage Trailhawk without too many miles as I love the looks and all the kit that comes with this trucklet.
Daniel Lopez
This is one of the ugliest cars I seen in my life !! What the hell is wrong with jeep this days?
zukworld98
I finally saw the Jeep Cherokee on the road the other day.  It was far uglier than the photos had led me to believe.  It follows today's modern designs of small, raised rear windows.  It hinders visibility and looks totally absurd.  The front isn't much better.  Looking at the specs the Cherokee needs to go on a reducing diet.  Shave off about 400 pounds or so.  Seventeen mpg just is not going to cut it.
Duderino
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, not everyone likes the look of every vehicle. I have seen a few in person, and the Trailhawk looks AWESOME *to me*. Was skeptical at first due to photos, and the other trims arent as exciting to me...but the Trailhawk looks mean. Blows away all other CUV's in looks, luxury, and capability.
Tim Lucas
I disagree with all of you - I think it's cool!
NE Guy
I wasn't a big fan of the design until I saw one in peron... It's MUCH better looking up close and I found that I really love it. The owner even let me pop into the driver seat and the interior is fantastic.
Nisar Khan Dharejo
nice
Francis Muyco
Donovan Academia
Scott Raflo
Derp!
Ej Dicky
Growing on me
Fco Fam
Comgratulations jeep for the most ugly jeep ever
Marcos Agote-Robertson
(Y)
Kacper Szotek
The ugliest jeep ever...
Patrick Lucado
I don't get the hate? Looks fine to me...actually good.
Lee Klein
It amazes me how this got past the design phase, when everyone thinks it's so ugly, me included. That front is horrible, even in person. It's just gross.
Maurice Bradford
Looks better then a Nissan juke
Thomas Abbott
The new Tacoma seems inspired by the dog too!
Thomas Abbott
Ugly
Dimos Triant
Bliaaah
Bradford Mahler
I throw up in my mouth a little every time i see one of these hideous vehicles on the road.
Tikka Lal
Looks real mean machine
Aaron Fremuth
I'm sure it's great to drive based on the specs and the good reviews, but seriously...how did that grill make it all the way to production?! I hate to see what designs got thrown away before they settled on that one as the best option.
Jeff Christopherson
I want one. It's not the greatest looking, but it is a Jeep. If it can go of road, it doesn't need to be pretty. It DOES look much better in person than in pics, though.
Craig Stishenko
It is so friggen ugly! However, i'm interested to see how the Trailhawk fairs.
Robert May
Quite possibly the ugliest car......IN THE WORLD
Jerry George
Ugliest thing on the road. Fire the designer and the staff put this thing in production.
Mitch Jackson
It's like the retarded inbred child who was named after his heroic grandfather.
Rebar Kawa
Why so ugly!
Alonso Lobo
U G L Y !!!
Farrah Storey
Ewwww god thats ugly
Big-Rig Stig
Designer was inspired by this meme:
Olorogun Michael Fejiro Egbe
Very original.
Duderino
Matte, not gloss
Duderino
Funny cuz sales have been increasing it seems 
Karl Nelson
You must of seen yourself in the side mirror.

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