2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4×4: Puttin’ on the ritz

10 Aug 2014 | 1,564 views | No Comment
By Don Hammonds Jeep's new Cherokee, the replacement for the venerable Jeep Liberty, has gone upscale and refined on us. The Liberty certainly was a popular crossover but those who know the auto industry will tell you that the Liberty, while pleasant enough,was both rather unrefined and getting long in the tooth. Now, enter Cherokee, a name with a long and rich history at Jeep. But this newest Jeep has little in common with the Liberty, and certeinly even less in common with the Cherokee of old. No, this new Cherokee is all about the comfort, the flexibility, and luxury appointments that make it seem more like its big brother, the Grand Cherokee.The new Cherokee is tomb quiet, stable on the road, and with plenty strong acceleration if you pick the larger powerplant. Our dark blue tester, a Jeep Cherokee Limited four by four, had a base price of $29,995. For that you get the 3.2 liter, 271 horsepower  V6 (19/27/22 combined gas mileage)  that can really move this baby in one heck of a hurry. And we found that the Cherokee handles beautifully, and gives you an added sense of stability and assurance as you head down the road. The all new, innovative nine speed automatic transmission does its part, too, allowing  the engine to cruise at lower revolutions per minute, resulting in considerably more gas mileage; other standard features include full power accessories,  climate control, traction control, stability control, electronic roll mitigation, the Selec-Terrain System, hill start assist, trailet sway damping, remote start, passive entry/keyloss go, ambient LED interior lighting, the fabulously easy to use UConnect infotainment system,ParkView rear backup camera, steering wheel mounted audio controls, and a host of other standard equipment we don't have room to publish. Options included a customer preferred package, that included with parallel and perpendicular parking assist, adaptive cruise control with Stop and Go advanced brake assist and other options. One other package was  installed on our test model, a luxury package with leather  seats, power liftgate,ventilated front seats and other items, a premium navigation system and dual bright exhaust tips, and a fantastic dual pane panoramic moontoof stretching the full length of the roof. Looking at this list of stuff you might expect this car to be rather expensive for a small crossover----$38,425. But considering what all you're getting, we think it's a steal.  You can get about the same equipment on a luxury crossover--maybe even missing a piece or two that is installed or can be installed on the Cherokee-- and spend thousands upon thousands of dollars more. As you might expect there are a number of versions of Jeep Cherokee for you to choose from.  And happily, they all have different personalities. And by the way, any version that you choose can be had with either front wheel drive or four wheel drive. Pricewise, you start at the Sport version, and for your money you get at no cost,  17-inch steel  wheels and all-season tires; air-conditioning; power accessories; keyless  remote entry; a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; a 60/40-split folding and  reclining rear seat; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; and a six-speaker  audio system with a 5-inch touchscreen interface, USB/iPod integration, an  auxiliary audio input and an SD card reader. Options include a Cold Weather  Group package with a wiper de-icer and heating for the front seats, steering  wheel and mirrors. You can get alloy wheels, a rearview camera, satellite radio  and a CD player as stand-alone options. The Latitude, which we suspect may be the most popular version, some additional standard equipment is provided.  That includes   alloy wheels, roof rails, foglights,  body-color door handles and mirrors, privacy-tinted glass, LED interior  lighting, a folding front passenger seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with  audio controls, vinyl trim on the door panels and a 115-volt outlet. But that's not all.  Latititudes also come with more choices for optional equipment than the Sport model.  Here's some of the things you can get if you don't mind paying a bit extra: A  V6 engine, dual sunroofs (the front roof opens; the rear glass is fixed), an  upgraded nine-speaker audio system and an 8.4-inch touchscreen interface with  smartphone app integration. The Comfort/Convenience package bundles a power  liftgate, automatic headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, an  eight-way power driver seat, a rearview camera, satellite radio, remote start  and a cargo cover and net. If you intend to do a lot of off roading, you'll probably want the Trailhawk, though any Cherokee is going to be a lot better off road than some of its competitors. The  Trailhawk is 4WD only and comes with  slightly wider 17-inch wheels and all-terrain tires; unique suspension tuning  (aimed at making the Jeep more capable in the dirt); a rear locking  differential; functional skid plates and tow hooks; unique fascia trim and side  moldings; upgraded instrumentation; the 8.4-inch touchscreen and satellite  radio. The upgraded audio system and Comfort/Convenience package are also  optional on the Trailhawk, but now you have access to a panoramic sunroof (that  opens over the rear seat if desired), leather upholstery and a navigation  system. If you wish, you can pay for a  Technology package, which includes automatic  high-beam control; adaptive cruise control; forward collision and lane  departure warning and mitigation systems; blind-spot and rear cross-traffic  warning systems; and an automated parallel and perpendicular parking system. The Limited  comes with 18-inch alloy  wheels and all-season tires; automatic headlights; keyless ignition/entry; dual-zone  automatic climate control; a power driver seat; heated front seats and steering  wheel; leather upholstery; a rearview camera and a cargo cover. Options are the  same as on the Trailhawk, except that the Luxury Group takes the place of the  Comfort/Convenience package. In addition to a power liftgate, this option group  includes xenon headlights, premium leather upholstery and ventilated front  seats. The Limited also has all the same electronic technology features that the Trailhawk has. It's worth noting that Jeep Cherokee offers two  all wheel drive set ups, depending on how you plan to use your car. Most of its competitors only have one choice. For most people we think that the entry level system, Active Drive I is more than adequate for folks who only want four wheel or all wheel drive to get them going when big snowstorms hit. If you plan to do off roading,  think about getting Active Drive II, which provides you with low-range gearing. Whichever one you order, you will find that the whole tone of the Jeep Cherokee line, even the base model, is decidedly upscale, and that is borne out both by the vastly improved presentation and ambiance of the car, as well as  its much better fit and finish. Thus, we think the Cherokee's slot in the compact CUV market should be somewhere in the middle, not ranked with the lower price, lower content Compact CUVs, but not as expensive as some of the luxury compact crossover models, either. Along with the quietness of the cabin, and fit and finish we found much to like about the Cherokee. First there was the easy to load, near waist level loading floor, the high quality of the interior, with the exception of some awful fake wood on the armrest, and the sense of space and airiness, especially when you order the dual panel sunroof.   While we are on the subject of the interior, we have to repeat some kind words we've always said about UConnect.  This system is absolutely fabulous.  It's so breathtakingly easy to use that you 'll sit there and say to yourself, "Wow,  did I forget something?  Nothing could possibly be that easy." Well it is. It took us all of about a minute and a half to get connected to Bluetooth, and all the other choices we made along the way took even less time than that.  We want to say it again because we've sat in we don't know how many luxury cars  and tried to do the same things, and ended up throwing our hands in the air and saying a few choice words about car companies that charge between $60,000 and $100,000 and you can't even get the damn system to operate. The generally good nine speed transmission could use a bit more refinement,  as it had an occasional habit of hunting for gears. It's a big improvement over the Liberty.                                                                                                                             ,,,,                          

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