WASHINGTON -- I've spent some time with two different Jeep Cherokee vehicles and come away impressed with both.
I just spent a week with the $31,000 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4x4 and I enjoyed it on the road.
Last November, I gave some quick impressions of the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. I spent a day checking out its trail-rated badge and came away impressed with its off-road capabilities.
The Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is much better on the trail than a crossover has any right to be. Off road it was great, but I wondered how would it be after some normal driving on real roads and not crawling in mud and thundering up rocky hills.
The Jeep Cherokee Latitude was a great drive, too. The mid-level Latitude model starts around $26,500, came nicely equipped with a nine speed automatic transmission, leather wrapped steering wheel and trick voice activated command with Bluetooth and very easy phone syncing.
This Jeep came with the optional 3.2 liter V6, a $1,495 option that for me was well worth the money. It sounds really good and moves the Jeep with authority. My test car also came with the comfort/convenience group which includes a rear-view camera, power lift gate and front seats, dual zone climate control, remote start and keyless go system.
The large touchscreen NAV system works really well and is simple to use. The Cherokee is a very well-equipped crossover and is competitively priced with the competition.
The 2014 Cherokee, like most crossovers, excels on the street and the new Jeep really shines. From its comfortable front seats and spacious and reclining rear seats, the new, quiet Jeep is a departure from the Jeep Cherokee of a decade or two ago.
The interior is very nice. It's closer to the Grand Cherokee's level of fit and finish. There's a neat touch like outline of an original Jeep in the black of the windshield surround.
It doesn't look like the old Cherokee either, it looks modern and the front end is unique but still has the trademark grill but with a twist.
It seems the Jeep is met with a love-it or hate-it reaction. In my unofficial polling around WTOP, most people seem to dig it.
After just a few months, the new 2014 Cherokee is quickly one of Jeep's best sellers moving nearly 16,000 in March.
I enjoyed the powerful and very smooth V6, with plenty of get up and go. The nine speed automatic was very efficient but would be caught three gears or so too high in a few passing maneuvers and would take a second to catch up.
The fuel economy was good for a 4x4 with a V6 averaging 23.6 mpg over 361 miles on regular fuel in an even mix of city and highway driving. You could pick up more mpg if you choose a four cylinder engine with front wheel drive.
With a new look and different personality, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee has changed its tune from a rough and tough go anywhere SUV to a go mostly anywhere with comfort and style crossover.
The new Cherokee is roomy and comfortable inside and its modern style outside has seemed to strike a chord with consumers. With a starting price of less than $24,000, the new 2014 Cherokee is setting itself apart from a very crowded small crossover market.
Editor's Note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI ,FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.
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