2014 Jeep Cherokee Four-Cylinder: Around The Block

This is the latest in our new series of short-take reviews, in which we concentrate on a car or truck with a powertrain or trim level not previously detailed. –Ed.

Our first drive of the new Jeep Cherokee was in Moab, Utah, on 4x4 trails that combined challenge and grandeur in equal measure. Clearly, Jeep felt it was important to demonstrate the Cherokee’s off-road chops, and indeed the new Cherokee acquitted itself admirably in its red-rock trial. More recently, we’ve had the opportunity to give the Cherokee a more mundane -- but far more realistic – workout on pavement, where most crossovers, even Jeeps, are consigned to spend their days. We first took a turn in the V-6 version. Now we’ve spent some time with the four-cylinder. How does it stack up?

The Cherokee four-banger is the same 2.4-liter Tigershark found in the Dodge Dart and the 2015 Chrysler 200. Here output is 184 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque.As in the 200, the engine is paired with Chrysler’s new nine-speed automatic transmission.

In the new 200 this powertrain performs well. It’s a different story, however, in the 500-pound-heavier Jeep. The Tigershark clearly labors moving the 4016-pound, four-wheel-drive Cherokee. With the engine’s torque peak coming at 4600 rpm, calls for acceleration regularly send the tach into its upper rev ranges, which is no aural delight. The transmission, which was pretty well behaved in the 200, is busier here and its shift quality isn’t as good. Also, throttle tip-in can be abrupt.

All this might be worth putting up with if the four-cylinder delivered stellar fuel economy, but it doesn’t. With four-wheel drive, the EPA ratings are 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, not much better than the V-6’s 19/27 mpg. In a week of suburban schlepping, I saw an indicated 20 mpg, rising to 23 mpg on a trip to New York City that was mostly parkway driving.

Size-wise and, even more so, weight-wise, the Cherokee doesn’t really line up against other compact crossovers. It’s not surprising, then, that a 184-hp four doesn’t cut it here. The 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6 is the better option. Available on all but the base Sport, the V-6 adds $1495 to the price and an additional 87 ponies along with 68 pound-feet of torque (for totals of 271 hp and 239 lb-ft). It’s the clear choice over the four-cylinder.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

Base price $30,490 (including destination)
Price as tested $37,215
Engine 2.4-liter I-4
Power 184 hp
Torque 171 lb-ft
Transmission 9-speed automatic
Drive Four-wheel
Cargo capacity (seats up/folded): 24.6/54.9 cubic feet
Fuel economy 21/28 mpg (city/highway)
Should have the V6 only in this trim level.  Add some ugly round lights on the roof to amp up the ugly as well.
Why do they even bother to offer the 4 cylinder engine in a vehicle this heavy?
The Trailhawk model is the heaviest due to all of the extra plating and gear to handle off road "Trail Rated" outings. Plus the weight of AWD. I don't know how many people will actually get that model. Furthermore, as equipped the Trailhawk really has no competitors. It is an option level meant to be taken off road. That is why you would buy the Trailhawk. So it will outperform everything else off road. I would be much more interested in knowing how a mid-level Latitude FWD 4 cylinder performs, since that is more likely where the bulk of sales will be. I can say that I have seen over a dozen of the new Cherokee around town and none have the red tow hooks indicating they are Trailhawk models.
At least it's attractive....
Really, $37,215 as tested with the 4-cylinder?
NE Guy
@freetome Yea, that doesn't seem right to me either...

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