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2014 Jeep Cherokee: this younger brother is still grand

2015 Jeep Cherokee -
2015 Jeep Cherokee - - courtesy Jeep

Most of us are very familiar with the Jeep GRAND Cherokee, but my weekly test drive vehicle was not that model. It was just a plain, ol' Cherokee, except it was not plain, it was not old, and it was a fantastic drive. It was a 2014 Cherokee Trailhawk 4x4.

2015 Jeep Cherokee - Billet Silver color
2015 Jeep Cherokee - Billet Silver color- courtesy Jeep

I was at the New York Auto Show when this 'new' vehicle was introduced to the media. The Chrysler Group and Jeep public relations personnel were saying, “There is a new king of the hill in the mid-size SUV segment.” The Grand Cherokee has gotten larger with a lot more features. The return of the 'regular' Cherokee fills a gap in the Jeep lineup – somewhat. It is back to the basics of a small SUV, although not on the same aspects as the legendary off-road Wrangler. Some call it the younger brother to the Grand Cherokee.

There are four different models of this 'new' Cherokee – Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk. My test model was the top-of-the-lineup Trailhawk which is considered the most rugged and was designed as 'Trail Rated.' The Trail Rated logo indicates its off-road capability exceeds the standard 4x4. The test model had an exterior color called Billet Silver Metallic. The interior color scheme was Morocco and black and included black leather bucket seats.

The engine for the weekly test drive was a 2.4-liter inline four cylinder power-plant matched with a 9-speed automatic transmission. A 3.2-liter V-6 engine is also available. It was 4x4 capable, as are all the Cherokee models, although they are designed for both on-road and off-road, in all weather conditions. There is a rear-axle disconnect which seamlessly switches between four or two wheel drive mode without input from the driver. Actually, there are three 4x4 systems available for the Cherokee that offer a one- or two-speed transfer unit. These are called Jeep Active Drive I, Jeep Active Drive II, and Jeep Active Drive Lock. The test-drive Trailhawk had the Active Drive Lock 4x4 system as standard equipment.

The base MSRP for the test-drive Trailhawk was shown as $29,495, but there were several option packages added. The Customer Preferred package added rain sensing wipers, blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control, and a lot more technology and safety features at an additional cost of $2,195. The Comfort & Convenience Group included a rear backup camera, power lift-gate, dual zone climate controls, powered front seats, tonneau cover, remote start, and more for $1,895. The Leather Interior package was $1,295 that included heated seats and a heated steering wheel. There was also navigation, HD radio, Sirius XM, black hood decal, and destination charges which bumped up the bottom line. Final sticker price was $35,820.

The 2014 Cherokee Trailhawk was EPA rated at 21 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 23 mpg overall average. My week's average ended up near the 25 mpg range. The legendary off-road capability of Jeep was present, but this is a mid-size SUV that competes with other mid-size SUV's that can carry people or cargo, tow boats and trailers easily, and look great.

Bottom line: The 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk has all the legendary capability of an off-road 4x4, but offers fairly good fuel economy, a lot of versatility, very comfortable functionality, and is loaded with security and safety features.