Chrysler has resurrected the Cherokee SUV for 2014, and its rebirth comes with loads of innovative features, drive trains and an all-new 9-speed automatic transmission.
Since its recent debut at the New York Auto Show, automotive critics have made its front end styling controversial in that it appears to have two sets of headlights in an angry, gnarly, aggressive look. While it has some resemblance to its big brother, the Grand Cherokee, the Cherokee is aimed at the mid-size crossover market. However, depending on the model, it has no comparison to those dainty competitors.
Based on modified Fiat underpinnings that are also shared with the Dodge Dart and upcoming Chrysler models, Cherokee will be offered in Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trail Rated Trailhawk versions. Cherokee is a replacement for the Jeep Liberty that reportedly didn’t sell extremely well, however I see loads of them on Allentown area roadways and in fact my neighbor has one.
Power choices will be either a standard 2.4L, Inline 4-cylinder that makes 184-hp and 171 lb/ft of torque, or, a new 3.2L, Pentastar V6 producing 271-hp ad 239 lb/ft of torque. Both will couple to a new ZF 9-speed auto trans that reportedly will allow quick first gear starts while using tall overdrive top gears for improved highway mileage. The estimated EPA for the latter engine is expected to achieve 22 city, 29-highway mpg, while the I-4 is spec’d to get 23/31 mpg.
Cherokee will be offered with the following three new 4WD systems that, says Chrysler, will raise the standard for mid-size SUVs:
* Active Drive I, with a one-speed power transfer unit (Power Takeoff Unit – PTU)
* Active Drive II, with two-speed PTU and a low range that locks front and rear drive shafts for low speed power or towing. The feature increases ride height by an inch and has a 56:1 crawl ratio that is higher than any other Jeep other than the Wrangler Rubicon.
* Active Drive Lock, with two-speed PTU, low range and locking rear differential, and is standard on the Trailhawk model.
In addition, Cherokee will offer a new Selec-Terrain traction control system with Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud and Rock modes like that in the Grand Cherokee. And with the V6 engine option, Cherokee carries a 4,500-pound tow capacity.
To improve fuel economy over and above what the power trains offer, Cherokee will have an industry-first rear-axle disconnect that also results in reduced energy loss when 4WD is not needed.
For fresh air fans, Cherokee will offer their optional CommandView panoramic sunroof or Sky Slider full-length open canvas roof.
Jeep didn’t neglect the interior that can be had in cloth or Nappa leather. A thin film transfer LED 3.5-inch grayscale or 7-inch fully reconfigurable instrument cluster or an optional premium 8.4-inch touchscreen is available and includes Bluetooth, Pandora, Aha, iHeart Radio and lots more.
The rear seats will now slide fore and aft for either more leg space or more cargo room. And for high-tech stuff, Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus is being offered for the first time in any Chrysler or Jeep vehicle, which will automatically stop the vehicle as will Forward Collision Warning-Plus that will prime the brakes, audibly warn the driver of a possible collision then instantly deploy Advanced Brake Assist to quicken braking times.
Another first is ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist that will steer the vehicle into a driver designated space. There’s also Blind Spot monitoring, Lane Departure Warning and Rear Cross Path detection that a lot new cars are now offering.
Back in the cargo area a new Cargo Management System employs a universal module rack mounted on the side of the cargo area and provides for hooks and a removable grocery bag.
There are a lot of other new and innovative features that we’ll review when the Cherokee becomes available for road testing. Initial production will begin in May with Cherokee’s showing up in dealers’ showrooms in summer.
To automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.