Bottom line: The new Jeep Cherokee is well worth the look, but only with the optional V-6 engine and, if you really intend to use it off-road, with the Trail Rated four-wheel-drive system.
Ride, acceleration, handling: The ride is comfortable. Acceleration is miserable with the four-cylinder engine but very good with the available V-6. Handling in snow and ice with the four-wheel-drive system was very good.
Head-turning quotient: The Cherokee’s original boxy proportions and tanklike demeanor have been replaced by a sleekly styled body front to rear. The functional result is a vehicle exterior with less wind resistance and, thus, better fuel economy. The resulting aesthetics are cause for fierce debate.
Body style/layout: The new Cherokee is based on a car platform, that of the new Dodge Dart. The new Dart, in turn, is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, a compact sedan sponsored by Italy’s Fiat, Chrysler’s current owner. It is available in four trim levels — Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk and Limited.
Engines/transmission: A 2.4-liter, 16-valve in-line four-cylinder gasoline engine with variable valve timing (184 horsepower, 171 pound-feet of torque) is standard. A gasoline V-6 (271 horsepower. 239 pound-feet of torque) is optional. Both come with Chrysler/Fiat’s new nine-speed automatic transmission.
Capacities: Seating for five people. Cargo capacity is 24.8 cubic feet with rear seats up and 54.9 cubic feet with middle and rear seats folded. The fuel tank holds 15.8 gallons of gasoline (regular grade is fine).
Mileage: I averaged 30 miles per gallon in mostly highway driving through Virginia.
Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; electronic brake-force distribution; stability and traction control; ParkView rear backup camera; and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Price: The 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4 with four-cylinder engine starts at $28,500, with a dealer’s invoice price of $27,476. (Note: The vehicle used for this column was a pre-production model. Most dealers sell Cherokee Limited 4x4 models with the V-6 starting at $29,995 for the consumer and $28,971 for the dealer). The price as tested, including $3,750 in options (onboard navigation, lane-departure warning and blind-side monitoring, premium leather seat covering, premium sound system) and a $995 dealer-to-factory shipment charge, was $35,735, with a dealer’s cost of $34,148.