PeteB’s Comprehensive Review of the 2014 Cherokee Limited - Page 2 - 2014+ Jeep Cherokee Forums
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post #11 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-10-2014, 08:14 PM
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I think Jeep should include your write up in any marketing material for the Tech package.
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post #12 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-10-2014, 09:19 PM
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Great report and better than anything I ever saw from any journalist. Totally agree with all points raised, and have noted that my TH does not like park sense when towing my boat, but is easy to turn off by simply pressing a button on the dash. Same applies with lane sense in the spring when trying to dodge Ottawa's famous pot holes - LOL.
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post #13 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-11-2014, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Part 3 - Uconnect, Luxury Group, Panoramic Sunroof

Uconnect, Sound, Electronics

This was my first contact with the Uconnect system and, after the initial period of ownership, I do think that it is probably one of the best infotainment systems on the market, although it is not flawless. The ease of use, the touchscreen functionality (after iDrive and MMi for me), the simple switch to another function, and the large 8.4” screen, all contribute to a feeling of control and complement the car really well. I was initially concerned about how the USB/SD music systems would operate, since I was used to having a Hard Drive for music storage, but I am now totally sold on the idea that this is the way of the future. I am currently using a 32 GB micro-USB and a 16 GB SD card and both work well. I did get the CD in the console, mostly for the functionality of being able to play new CDs, but have rarely used it. Like others I do find the CD a bit below par for the Cherokee and the constant defaulting to the CD, when switching to media, is a nuisance. I also think that Jeep should switch the CD option to a DVD/CD option and make this add-on able to play videos (when the vehicle is stationary). The screen is outstanding and not utilizing its full potential seems like a waste. I have also used the hack posted on this forum (I apologize - I wanted to give credit but I forget who posted it), allowing for screen capture and, practically, being able to take and capture photos with the backup camera!

The 9 speaker system works really well and I am pleased with the sound. I am no audiophile but I do enjoy a clear and crisp sound and I think that for $ 400, this system delivers. The Bluetooth connectivity works flawlessly and the voice recognition seems to understand me better than my wife, which is all I can ask for . In fairness, this should really be a no-brainer in this time and age, but I know it isn't on many other systems. I already mentioned that the 110 V outlet really helps, especially with kids or teens in the back! The EVIC adds some nice functionality, in various modes, and complements the 8.4” screen well.

One big concern (for me at least) was the ability to display emails and read them (as opposed to text messages). My former cars had that, and I have gotten used to having it available (i.e. I am spoiled ). For anyone interested, I have temporarily solved this issue by redirecting all emails as texts. This provides me notification and reads emails while I am driving but, because it comes as a redirected message, you cannot reply to them as you normally could, with a text message. Nevertheless, I am happy with this temporary solution for now, but I would urge Jeep/FCA to look into enhancements on the Uconnect in this category. For anyone interested in doing this, I can post more details but for a start, make sure you have an unlimited text plan, and you will need your cell phone provider’s info on your specific text/email address to redirect the emails (usually your cell number @ cell provider).

I got the 8.4 AN with navigation and so far navigation is functioning decently. The 3D views are (similar to my old BMW system) confined to city centers, but the maps are easy to see and follow, and the complementary EVIC turn by turn directions are very useful. Like others, I do think that there should be a default override of not being able to program directions manually (perhaps tied to having the passenger seat occupied), but I can’t complain too much as the voice commands work reasonably well. I also really like the accurate depiction of highway lanes, indicating where I should be (and typically showing that I am off by at least two lanes ).

The shortfalls of the NAV system are that the voice commands do not match the on-screen terminology (confusing until you figure it out or, God forbid read the manual). Also, the maps could be slightly more updated (I finished in a residential neighborhood recently, when the Uconnect was telling me that I reached my destination, in a commercial mall). Part of the problem may also be that I have never used Garmin, so getting used to Uconnect, with an embedded Garmin system is a PITA. I also miss being able to email my destinations through Google and have the system automatically pick them up and program them in – well I guess you can’t have everything in life ! I have had some minor issues with my phone/Uconnect interaction but, since I am still using a Blackberry I guess I get what I deserve !


Luxury Group

While some of the components in the Luxury group match the non-Limited Comfort & Convenience and Cold Weather groups in the other trims, two are very specific (HID lighting and vented seats). Let’s start with the lighting – having come from adaptive cornering headlights, I find even the HID bixenons to be slightly inferior than what I had. Cornering on dark roads is slightly more difficult, although the automatic high-beams (part of the Technology group) in conjunction with the HIDs do help a lot. However, other than comparing them probably unfairly to adaptive headlights, I have no major issue with the way the HIDs perform, and I would definitely want them over the halogens.

The vented seats do perform flawlessly and I find them indispensable in 80+ degree temperatures. I never had (or bothered to get) vented seats before but I doubt that I would get a new car without them, after the experience in the Cherokee. Having the vent on (the air is sucked out of the seats lowering the temperature and helping with perspiration issues ), makes the AC much less intrusive, and cools the occupants better and faster. I also like the perforated premium leather seats much more than the plain leather seats (I’ve attached a close-up) and believe that this feature alone makes the Luxury group a good buy. I opted for the “Iceland” seat color combo, which in reality I would really describe as dark gray/light gray, rather than black/gray. I have to say that I think they provide a two-tone image that makes the Cherokee much classier but also look conservative enough to provide a calm atmosphere in the cabin. I am very happy with the seats in general, and the overall look of the interior, although I will go for a slightly lighter look. To that effect, I am adding personalized gray premium mats, in place of the black stock Jeep mats, and will post pictures when I get them.

The rest of the Luxury group has useful features, such as the automatic liftgate, lumbar support and especially the memory seats. One thing I want to note is that I am impressed with how fast pressing the memory seat button returns the seats, mirrors and radio to the memory presets (and I am comparing this to luxury SUVs)!

I do think that Jeep should seriously consider adding a few things to the Luxury group (and upping the price if necessary). I know that they are always concerned about the price but, by its very nature (“Luxury” ) – this should be an add-on package where buyers would be expected to pay some more. I know that many may think that some of these additions may be an overkill, but if Jeep really wants the Limited to sell, as a replacement for the Evoque, X3 and Q5, they should seriously consider it! Some of the things that could/should be added are: LED lighting throughout (including fog lights), power passenger seat (this is one of those things that is expected more than is needed), DVD/CD in the middle console and Uconnect video functionality, power-folding mirrors, headlight washers, wood trim on console to match the one on the door (or alternately a non-wood Luxury-only inside trim), shark fin antenna and possibly adaptive cornering headlights (not sure if Jeep has the technology). And of course, selfishly, email functionality on the Uconnect !

Overall I like the Luxury group but am not as impressed with it, as I am with the Technology group. In terms of value for money, it definitely makes sense to get it (bi-xenon headlights alone can run you $ 1,000 on some competitors), and in terms of needs, vented seats and enhanced headlights are a must, but it could be so much more impressive, with some additions and a "modest" price bump!


Panoramic Sunroof

The panoramic sunroof is somewhat pricey (compared to the other packages) but, in my opinion, well designed and worth it. I had panoramic sunroofs before, but the Cherokee’s is larger and goes back further, making the whole experience much nicer for backseat passengers. I was initially concerned about the structural integrity of such a large sunroof (I used to get a lot of creaking on my old 2011 X3 sunroof), but there were no problems at all. We’ll see if it holds up equally well in winter but so far, so good !

If there is a complaint on the sunroof, it is mostly in the way it is designed to operate. The tilt function opens too little for my taste. An option, at purchase, for some additional tinting may also be of interest in southern climates!

(Next – Engine and Transmission, Ride and Handling and Fuel Efficiency)
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post #14 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-11-2014, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Part 4 - Engine, Transmission, Ride and Fuel Efficiency

Since I will be out of the country for a few weeks, here is the final installment of my review. I was also going to include some concluding remarks but, since I do not have time, I will make it simple - I love my Cherokee Limited and am thoroughly enjoying driving it!



Engine and Transmission

Since my last five cars were all 6 cylinder models, I had no dilemma what I would choose, when picking the engine, for the Cherokee. I never drove the I4 so I can’t comment on it, but I can safely say that I like the V6 Pentastar and find it powerful, quiet and an effective powerplant, in combination with the 9 speed transmission. The acceleration is quick and the powerplant combo provides enough cruising, passing and acceleration power to manage the nearly 4,000 lbs of the Cherokee. Inadvertently I had a chance to go head to head with other cars and test the acceleration. For some reason (maybe it is the red color ) my Cherokee seems to attract a lot of wanna-be street racers at traffic light intersections! The few times I engaged in this (shame on me for doing so ), I beat a Mustang, a CRV and a BMW X1, so I do know that this car can go!

If the transmission was initially the Achilles’ heel of the Cherokee, my post-May 5th built seemed to have that issue licked completely (knock on wood ). Initially I was worried and didn’t know what to expect. As I wrote in other threads, my prior experiences with software fixes in adaptive transmissions gave me the “courage“ to go ahead with this purchase, and I have no regrets so far. For the past 2,000 Miles, the transmission has been shifting seamlessly and giving me absolutely no trouble (with one small exception and one gripe, described below). When I recently asked some passengers for their opinions of the transmission shifts (to ensure no bias on my part), I first had to specify what types of issues they should even look for, and there was unreserved praise for the way the transmission worked.

Since I spent the better part of the first 1,000 Miles driving with the EVIC tuned to the fuel efficiency gauge, and constantly shifting to manual to view which gear the Jeep was in, I will provide some further insight, in the next two sections. For now, suffice it to say that the transmission on my Cherokee is very quick to shift to, and stay in, the 7th and 8th gears. I reach the 7th at speeds as low as 40-45 mph and 8th at speeds around 55 mph. I even hit the “elusive” 9th gear relatively easily and frequently, at around 80-85 mph on level highways, and at 75-80 mph going downhill. This is obviously different from some earlier experiences on this forum. I am not sure what the engineers tuned after May 5th, but whatever it was, it is working well on my Cherokee!

My one (very minor) concern is the 2nd gear operation. Very rarely, both upshifts into and downshifts from the 2nd gear are audible and somewhat harsher than others (although I don’t have the jerking, wobble, etc. that others have seen). To be fair, if I wasn’t alerted through this forum about the 2nd gear issues, , I would probably not even be noting this. I will monitor the situation and report back if it gets any worse but currently it is not really an issue. My one gripe regarding the transmission is the almost total inability to use the transmission for braking. The software likes a very narrow RPM range for individual gears, which makes braking through manual downshifts to a complete stop almost totally impossible. I am not sure why this is so – broadening the RPM range, allowed on individual gears, would make the drive more sporty and allow for engine braking. Note to Jeep - a minor future adjustment on this would be appreciated and could help with fuel efficiency! Of course, I realize that this is a relatively minor item, and overall, I am very pleased with the transmission and time will tell if it is as durable as it looks now.


Ride and Handling

My preference is for a softer pavement ride (hence the ADI) and this Cherokee doesn’t disappoint. It has been very smooth on both highways and city streets. While you may feel some of the bumps and potholes in your feet (and I blame the tires - see below), the rest of your body is blissfully isolated. The ride is quiet (the 9 speed transmission helps a lot there, as does good sound attenuation) and there is very little fatigue or stress on the driver, even on longer trips.

The feeling of solidity really helps, as the Cherokee looks like a much bigger and robust SUV, behind the wheel. The V6 engine is more than adequate and the driver always has the feeling that he/she is in control. At the same time, if you are looking for a sporty light SUV handling (aka Mazda CX-5) or a sports-SUV-type handling (aka Infiniti FX or BMW X6), this is not it. At the same time, you never feel that the car will not handle the tasks asked of it – it’s just a “quick but laid-back” feeling. Think of the Cherokee as a top NFL tight end - you know that he is very fast but heft, not speed, will be the first thing you associate with him ! I personally enjoy it but, to be fair, there was a time (20 years ago) when I would have preferred a more sporty handling. Coming from 6 cylinder X3 and Q5, probably also colors my comments on the handling, but I never once thought that this was somehow inferior, just different.

Once again, I have to stress that, when optioned with the Tech group, the Cherokee will take the accolades if there is ever a contest for the best highway cruiser SUV. I am rarely out of 7th or 8th gear on the highways and regularly get 26-29 mpg (more on that below).

Putting the Selecterrain into Sport mode quickens the pace, but plays havoc with the fuel efficiency. However if you are driving on windy roads, Sport mode is the one to go to, for sheer fun and excitement. Since I have done limited off-roading, I can only report that the Jeep performed great in the Sand/Mud mode on a beach and on a few dirt roads, which serious off-roaders wouldn't even count. I haven’t really tested the Snow mode yet, although I am sure that it will be very handy in a few months.

So in short, I am very pleased with the ride and handling. If there is one issue I have, it is the tires. The 18” Continentals are generally fine, but sometimes too loud, especially when driving across the Kabul-like potholes in my metro area. I have gone from 36 psi to 40 psi and now down to 32 psi and am still searching for the best combination to get the quietest ride (any constructive suggestions would be appreciated).


Fuel Efficiency

I have consistently stuck to the 89 Octane gas for the V6 and my average consumption over the 2,000 Miles is about 19.5 mpg. I have also had as much as 365 Mile range squeezed out of one tank. However, this summary is only the tip of the iceberg and comes with a big caveat!!!

This Cherokee is designed in a very interesting way, making fuel efficiency even more dependent on your driving routes and dynamics, than other competitors. To put it in perspective (since I have had the fuel efficiency on the EVIC, constantly on), my average highway mileage is between 26 and 29 mpg (my best 90 Mile trip was 29.3 mpg) while the city driving in stop and go traffic is in the 13-16 mpg range, or even less. Regular city driving is roughly 18-19 mpg. My best fuel tank was around 25 mpg (nearly all highways) and my worst was 13.9 mpg!

What does this all mean practically? It probably explains why some members here have been consistently getting high 20s and some others are happy to just reach 18 mpg! And the average mpg, can change really quickly, especially if you vary your routine. Until two weeks ago, my average was 22.5 mpg (in 50:50 city highway driving), but just a few hundred miles of city stop and go traffic shaved 3 mpg off the average (not to worry, I have a trip coming up so I will jack the average up again )!

The other interesting thing is that “babying” the Cherokee is actually detrimental to fuel consumption. The 9 speed transmission has a mind of its own and too many gears for the driver to modulate the acceleration, and invariably uses more fuel for long, rather than short accelerations. A lead foot actually works best here. So, for example, if you are accelerating from 10 mph to 45 mph, try to do it in the minimum amount of time possible, if you want the best fuel efficiency! If you are doing it gradually, you will be only wasting fuel! Since this is counter-intuitive to the way I have been driving for many years, I am still struggling with this concept but, if the EVIC is correct, that is the way to do it!

Overall, the 19.5 mpg (if it holds ) is still better than my past 17 mpg average in the German 6 cylinder cars, so I am not complaining. I agree with most here that the fuel tank could have been larger but c'est la vie.



Once again, in conclusion, I really like this Cherokee Limited and feel that I am driving a luxury SUV which is unique (I am getting tired of wiping finger smudges from the windows wherever I park ), which suits my needs and which was a steal (compared to other luxury SUVs)! I have been frank in listing many suggestions for improvements here, but overall I am extremely pleased. Since coming to this forum, I have received many helpful suggestions so I think of this review as a way of giving back to the community and helping other current and future owners of the Cherokee!
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post #15 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-13-2014, 04:24 AM
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Well done sir.
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post #16 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-13-2014, 06:47 AM
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...and feel that I am driving a luxury SUV which is unique...
Well Pete, exact these were my thoughts while I was on the test-drive with the Cherokee.
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post #17 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-13-2014, 08:00 AM
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Your report closely mirrors my experiences, and I totally agree with the section on mileage - mpg has a very close relation to how you drive with this tranny, and the electronics clearly illustrate it. I have just completed a 2000 km annual trip towing my 3500# boat and I could not be happier with my TH.
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post #18 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 02:54 AM Thread Starter
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Just a quick thanks to everyone for your comments. I will reply to all, once I am back!
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post #19 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-14-2014, 10:03 AM
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Great thread, thanks!
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post #20 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-15-2014, 04:27 PM
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My one gripe regarding the transmission is the almost total inability to use the transmission for braking.
Yeah. I've only been driving mine for a few days now, but I observed this as well. Once the thing gets into higher gears, which it can do quickly, it really wants to stay there... and with the weight of the vehicle it carries a fair bit of momentum. It makes me wonder what sort of impact this will have on the breaks long term. I feel like i'm riding my brakes a lot in city driving. Does anyone else have this experience as well? (could just be learning curve for me I suppose).

Also - a little bummed on the MPG observations you noted as well. I'll have to track that as I go - I was hoping to be able to average around 20 mpg around town in my TH. Oh well, she's still fun to drive

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