Return of the Native: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Pricing Announced
The 2014 Jeep Cherokee is not the crude, square-jawed SUV we remember from the 90s, but then again, little from that breezy decade remains the same. In between our government spying on us and our cell-phone calls, we’re saddled with crumbling highways and soaring gas prices. The all-new Cherokee has the stuff to tackle the latter two obstacles, but only if you order the right model.
As with the Patriot and Compass, Jeep will sell you a wimpy front-wheel-drive entry-level model, starting at $23,990. Based as it is on Fiat and Chrysler’s modular Compact U.S. Wide platform (shared with the Dodge Dart), the Cherokee Sport won’t outperform a Honda CR-V off-road. But many suburban crossover buyers in warm climates don’t need anything more than this, and it’s the front-wheel-drive Sport that Chrysler expects to hit up to 31 mpg on the highway with its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and the world’s-first nine-speed automatic. The Cherokee Sport is also $400 less than the rear-wheel-drive Liberty, which was discontinued after 2012.
While the Cherokee Sport has lowly hubcaps and black plastic door handles, a new Uconnect 5.0 infotainment system with a 3.5-inch color display is standard, along with 10 airbags, an acoustic laminated windshield, and air conditioning vents in the back so that rear passengers can actually survive after climbing into a hot car. The 2014 Subaru Forester doesn’t have all that.
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There are three different four-wheel-drive options that tack on at least $2000 to Sport, Latitude ($25,490), and Limited ($28,990) trims. A conventional, fully automatic all-wheel-drive setup (Jeep Active Drive I) is the first step. Active Drive II, not available on the Sport, adds a low-range transfer case that can provide a 50/50 front/rear power split; the third system, Active Jeep Drive Lock, adds a locking rear differential to Active Drive II. That last system is only available on the top-end $30,490 Trailhawk, the sole “Trail Rated” model in the Cherokee lineup. All of the systems feature Selec-Terrain drive modes, as seen in the Grand Cherokee, which can tailor the vehicle’s powertrain and suspension to the road surface. The rear axle also disconnects from the engine when it’s unneeded, further reducing fuel usage.
Chrysler’s 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen, plucked from the Grand Cherokee, is optional on Latitude and standard on Limited and Trailhawk models. A customizable, seven-inch instrument-panel display and leather seats are reserved for the Limited and Trailhawk, but many goodies—including the 3.2-liter 271-horsepower V-6, dual-pane sunroof, and 506-watt ten-speaker Alpine stereo—can be ordered on the Latitude.
Look for the 2014 Cherokee to arrive at dealers later this fall; whether the next federal scandal scares us more than the sight of those squinty headlamps coming down the road is yet to be determined.