Jeep introduces 2014 Cherokee with shocking new styling

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

With the introduction of its new mid-size crossover SUV, Jeep is dusting off a name from the past… or at least half of a name. The automaker currently builds the Grand Cherokee, its flagship SUV that mixes 4x4 capability with premium levels of luxury and refinement as well as optional clean diesel technology for superb fuel economy. The upcoming 2014 Cherokee won't be as grand in size, but the popular SUV brand is hoping its more car-like mid-size model becomes just as popular as its now legendary off-roader when it replaces the outgoing Liberty later this year.

That popularity will depend on how well it is received and, as always, styling will be a key contributor for pulling new buyers into Jeep showrooms. So what do you think? Unique enough for you? Jeep certainly doesn't want the new Cherokee to get lost amongst the myriad compact crossover SUVs in today's market, and it will no doubt stand out in the crowd.

The brand has taken an unorthodox approach to designing the new Cherokee's grille. Still sporting the requisite seven slots, the grille cants rearward at its halfway point in what looks to be an aerodynamically inspired shape, a design that's remotely similar to the old Wrangler YJ's grille profile, but only in its rearward leaning ways. All in all this is a very different Jeep that makes its new Italian parentage very clear, it's unusual split-lens headlight clusters likely to cause polarity amongst potential buyers. Some will be grateful the brand is branching out into new styling directions, while its more traditional customers may be upset by such a dramatic departure from the past. These purebred Jeep fans are mostly Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited anyway, having been dismayed when Jeep introduced the compact Liberty way back in 2001, and even more taken aback with the Dodge Caliber-based Patriot and Compass models. So this new European upstart should really get the Mopar forums buzzing!

The Italian roots can be found behind the new sheet metal. Not the rugged off-roader it replaces or the legendary 4x4 that donated its name, the new Cherokee pulls underpinnings from the same Alfa Romeo Giulietta compact hatchback that supports the new Dodge Dart sedan, so consider it a crossover with a focus on small families and couples with active lifestyles rather than a rugged off-roader. Then again the two aforementioned cars are compacts while the new Cherokee is a mid-size model, so it may be more loosely based on Giulietta/Dart components than simply a tall rugged looking wagon.

After all, Jeep makes a point of beginning the new SUV's press release by introducing the resurrected Cherokee name and then stressing its off-road heritage by saying, "The name is instantly recognizable as the most capable and versatile mid-size SUV in the world." It will likely hit the market with a Trail Rated package at the very least, because Jeep promises a "no-compromise" vehicle with "best-in-class capability." Just the same, it won't likely be anywhere near the off-roader that its solid axle-equipped namesake was, or even the Liberty, which incidentally was named Cherokee in markets outside of North America.

And that's ok, of course. The brand has probably figured out that its 4x4 faithful are going to buy the Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited models anyway, or the Grand Cherokee if they want more luxury appointments, so the new car-based Cherokee helps them expand into a mid-size crossover market the Liberty couldn't attract. For instance, the Cherokee will be 45-percent more fuel-efficient!

Jeep gives no indication of the new Cherokee's mechanicals, but expect a turbo-diesel option in order to achieve this level of improvement at the pump. A fuel-friendly oil burner would be a welcome addition to the Jeep lineup, especially considering the success the brand enjoys with the clean diesel Grand Cherokee and previously had with the Liberty diesel.

Of course, prospects of a diesel are pure speculation. Instead, we can be 100-percent certain about variations of the same four-cylinder engines offered in the Dart, currently including two making 160-horsepower apiece and 147 and 184 lb-ft of torque, and one making 184-horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. The Cherokee will likely be available with front- and all-wheel drivetrains; although it's possible only all-wheel drive will be available in Canada.

Despite pulling its platform architecture from Europe, the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee will be built in the U.S. at Chrysler Group's Toledo Assembly Plant in Toledo, Ohio, and go on sale in the third quarter of this year. Before that, you'll be able to see it at the New York auto show when it debuts towards the end of March. Expect more details, including photos of its rear styling and interior, after its introduction.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, SUV, Jeep, 2014, Cherokee, Midsize,

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page