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#9

in Affordable Compact SUVs

MSRP: $22,995 - $30,095
Invoice: $22,636 - $29,069
MPG: 22 City / 31 Hwy
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Jeep Cherokee Performance

Play 2014 Jeep Cherokee Performance Review Video Video: Cherokee Performance 2014 Jeep Cherokee Performance Video Review

Critics say the 2014 Jeep Cherokee’s four-cylinder engine delivers sufficient power, but they suggest the optional V6 for better performance. Test drivers say the Cherokee's automatic transmission generally shifts smoothly and quickly. Critics are divided on the Jeep Cherokee's handling. Some say the Cherokee is composed in corners, while others wish it felt more planted in turns. Most reviewers think the Cherokee's steering is accurate, but wish it offered more feedback. Reviewers say the Jeep Cherokee can handle moderate off-roading, but recommend the Jeep Wrangler for more serious off-road capability.

  • "The Cherokee shares the Dodge Dart's Alfa Romeo Giulietta-based platform, and it drives similar to its compact car counterpart. That makes for a comfortable but somewhat dull driving experience." -- MSN Autos
  • "The Cherokee's personality is more dependent on the drivetrain and option packages than perhaps any Jeep before." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "There are finally a few current crossovers, the Cherokee among them, that fulfill the first, idealized promise: it really does drive like a car. It sits on the same Compact US Wide platform as the Dodge Dart, and the architecture has given up nothing in the composure department when going from sedan to on- and off-roader." -- Autoblog
  • "Bottom line: the Cherokee performs very well as a daily driver, while at the same time offering you more traction enhancement than you'll probably ever need." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

The all-new Jeep Cherokee comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 184 horsepower. A 271-horsepower, 3.2-liter V6 engine is available on upper trims. A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models. The base Jeep Cherokee gets up to 22/31 mpg city/highway, which is respectable for the class, but still behind the fuel economy of comparably equipped compact SUVs like the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and Chevrolet Equinox. 

Most reviewers say the Cherokee's standard four-cylinder engine produces adequate power for daily driving conditions, though some note that it can be noisy. Most test drivers prefer the more powerful and refined optional V6 engine, which they say provides livelier acceleration. Generally, test drivers think the transmission shifts smoothly and quickly in most driving situations.

  • "Twisting through canyon roads near Los Angeles, the four proved itself lively enough, but the V6 clearly was stronger and quieter-even if it did give off a nice burble under acceleration. The 9-speed trans kicked down promptly and shifted smoothly. It never seemed lost as we got on and off the power frequently while scrubbing off speed in tight switchbacks, then accelerating toward the next curve." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The four-cylinder is certainly adequate, but the V-6 is downright fun." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "Unless you're hard on the throttle, shifts are imperceptible - it wasn't until we started pretending the Cherokee was a Porsche 911 that we could get it swapping cogs in places we might not have chosen." -- Autoblog
  • "Although the four-cylinder engine has as much horsepower as most rivals' base engines, the Cherokee is heavy for a small crossover SUV, which makes the engine feel sluggish when accelerating up to highway speeds. This engine also has a more raucous sound than other four-cylinders in this class." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Most reviewers say the Cherokee's steering is precise, but that it can lack feedback. When cornering, some critics say the Cherokee feels soft and lacks composure, while others say it feels confident in turns and has little body lean. A few critics note that the 2014 Cherokee rides a bit firmly, but most agree that it offers a comfortable ride.

  • "On the drive to work, the Cherokee offers about as cushy a ride as you'll get in this class. The downside is that the Jeep feels heavy and soft when going around turns. Its steering is precise, but the new Cherokee isn't sporty like the Escape or CX-5." -- Edmunds
  • "The electric-assist power steering is fairly direct and predictable, but it lacks the feel and feedback that can contribute to a fun driving character. Handling is typical of the class, with a slightly tall stance that creates some lean in turns and a tendency to understeer when driven hard through corners." -- MSN Autos
  • "The few bumps and dips we encountered in our on-pavement test drives were well damped and sideways body motions never got bad enough to make us break stride in the twisties. Steering inputs were promptly heeded, but feedback through the wheel was somewhat lacking." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The Cherokee Limited is light on its feet and easy to drive quickly on a rough and twisty road. The chassis seems to be calibrated more for flat handling than a cushy ride. The steering is light at low speed but the effort ramps up nicely as speed increases." -- Popular Mechanics

Off-Roading

The 2014 Cherokee comes standard with front-wheel drive or the choice of three available four-wheel drive systems. Active Drive I is a full-time system that includes a single-speed transfer case, while Active Drive II includes a two-speed transfer case with low-range gearing for better off-road capability. Both systems are available on Sport, Latitude and Limited models. Cherokee Trailhawk models come standard with Jeep Active Drive Lock, which is similar to Active Drive II, but includes a locking rear differential for improved off-road performance. All four-wheel drive models come with Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system, which maximizes traction with driver-selectable settings that include auto (normal), snow, sport, sand/mud and rock. Reviewers think the Jeep Cherokee offers commendable performance off the pavement. Some reviewers particularly like the Cherokee Trailhawk model and say its four-wheel drive system and rear locking differential make it very capable off-road. However, most critics agree that those seeking serious off-road prowess should consider the Jeep Wrangler.

  • "If you have the inclination, the Trailhawk can take on some pretty serious trails, thanks to its advanced 4WD system and rear locking differential. That said, regular off-roaders will be better off with an even more capable and focused vehicle like Jeep's Wrangler." -- Edmunds
  • "But when you get the Cherokee off pavement, the world changes. Equipped with any of its three 4WD systems - Jeep Active Drive I, Active Drive II and Active Drive Lock - the Cherokee offers class-leading off-road prowess." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Remember, the Cherokee is designed for ‘Dreamers,’ and even the bit of off-roading we did would be a bad dream for most of them. If you know what you're doing, then you can go a lot of places with the new Cherokee. And if you're an expert at going off-road, then... perhaps Jeep can interest you in a Wrangler..." -- Autoblog
  • "On Moab's slickrock trails, the 'Hawk is probably the most capable Jeep in the family-aside from the Wrangler, of course." -- Popular Mechanics
Review Last Updated: 5/13/14

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