PeteB’s Comprehensive Review of the 2014 Cherokee Limited - 2014+ Jeep Cherokee Forums
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post #1 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-10-2014, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Wink PeteB’s Comprehensive Review of the 2014 Cherokee Limited

I will be posting a detailed review of my Cherokee (built post-May 5th), covering the exterior, interior, Tech and Luxury groups, Uconnect, engine and transmission as well as a report on ride, handling and fuel efficiency. I will be posting it in several parts over the next few days, in this thread, and hope it is helpful. Here is part one.


Background

Unlike many here, I come from a non-Jeep world. I haven’t driven a Jeep since the 80s and have only owned BMW and Audi SUVs in the past 15 years. I wanted a new small/midsize SUV for my daily drive, and have been looking for a change. Even though I looked at the Jeep Grand Cherokee previously, I wasn’t sold on its size, looks or features, but I really liked the design and characteristics of the new Cherokee. While it did not have the “luxury” cache, after testing it, I concluded that (in the top trims) it was as good, if not better, than some “luxury” brands. I also thought that the available equipment (especially the Tech group) was pretty unique, and the overall value for money was unbeatable. After test driving it, my initial concerns were squarely aimed at the reliability issues, especially the transmission problems that were well reported on JCC. In the end, it came down to the Cherokee and the newly redesigned 2015 X3 and, even though I like the BMW’s ride and handling, I opted for the Cherokee.

My idea of off-road driving is taking dirt roads to the cottage or the lake on weekends, and my main concern was to keep me and my family in a comfortable, safe and reasonably luxurious environment on the paved roads, not dirt tracks. For this reason, I went with the Limited V6 ADI (personally I found the ADII ride a bit harsh and for the same reasons didn’t seriously consider the TH), with virtually all the options except the towing package (Tech, Luxury, Sunroof, CD, 9 Speaker Sound, 8.4AN..). FWIW, I also loved the Cherry Red color. I am not sure if it can be called mid-life crisis , but a number of people commented how I had the “cojones” to drive a red car! My Limited was built on May 7th, right after the latest “fixes” to the transmission software, and I have clocked nearly 2,000 Miles on it. I am posting some pictures below as well.


Exterior

Contrary to the many critics, I thought from the start that Jeep took a bold gamble on the design that, at least for me, was guaranteed to be a huge success. As one of the designers said, “we wanted to make the design look good in 2020 as well as in 2014”, and I think that they succeeded. Even though I am not a Jeep loyalist, I actually find the design to be a perfect modern take on the design of the classic Jeep Cherokees and other Jeep vehicles. As many have commented here, the more someone looks at this vehicle, the more they warm up to its design (a co-worker who was shocked with my choice initially, has just ordered a Cherokee for herself ). I know that some here do not like the chrome on the Limited but I think it actually accentuates the positive design cues. Rugged Luxury or Rugged Elegance seems to me the best way to describe this Cherokee. If there is one part that could have been finished better, it is the rear of the vehicle. I have now gotten used to it, and actually don’t mind the design, but I still think that to some extent it remains an unfinished canvas! The other comment (and I will be making a few of those in this review) is that Jeep should have upped the price on the top trims and options and included some equipment that is both expected and even available on Cherokees outside North America. Specifically, on the exterior, headlight washers, shark fin antenna and power-folding side mirrors should have all been included in the Luxury package or at least available at an extra cost for the Limited and the TH.


Interior

The interior has been well finished and frankly IMHO is as good as most luxury SUV interiors. The seats are comfortable, the driver’s seat is easily adjustable (including lumbar support), if not very supportive for sporty driving , and the overall instrument cluster is one of the best available (I will deal with Uconnect in a separate section). On several long trips (250+ Miles) I found the Cherokee to be easy on the occupants’ anatomy, and very comfortable. The cabin is spacious (and feels even more so, with the sunroof shade open) and has enough storage space, although whoever designed the door storage pockets to only take cups and bottles, should go back to design school. There are a few cheaper-looking plastics on the bottom of the cabin but, taking into account the heritage of Jeep, I did not think that it really took away from the “rugged” look that it was going for. The wood trim on the door looked better in person than in pictures but my suggestion to the designers is to, either get rid of it altogether, or add more wood trim on the dashboard – the way it is now, it does look like a little bit of an afterthought. Back seating is comfortable and the recline and slide functions nicely complement the overall look and functionality. Interior recess lighting for the music connection, cupholder and footwell, the 110 V outlet and the large EVIC screen are all nice touches and feel luxurious. The steering wheel and the shifter are “beefy” and provide a solid feel, and the overall impact on the driver, sitting in the cabin is of a very solidly built vehicle. I have already commented in other threads that, while the Cherokee has 400-500 lbs more than its mainstream competitors, it is on par with the likes of X3, Q5 and GLK and uses the extra weight to deliver a silent cabin, smooth ride and the feeling of solidity, as well as the off-road capability. Fuel efficiency is another matter, but more about that later.

Since I have the luxury package, I will discuss that separately, including some ideas on making it better. For now, I will just agree with many here, that having incandescent (instead of LED) bulbs on the inside lighting and sunvisor unnecessarily degrades the overall look of the Cherokee. While I know it is a relatively easy fix (although I have yet to get around to doing it ), not having the LEDs on the top trims is just not a good marketing move on Jeep’s part. Note to Jeep designers and marketers – please add $50 to the Limited/TH price and put LED bulbs everywhere. The interior storage is generally well thought out, although this vehicle is not for those who love to haul cargo! Coming from the SUVs I had, I actually found the trunk adequate and comparable to BMW and Audi, but I can see how some may find it too small.

(Next – Technology Group)
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post #2 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-10-2014, 04:32 PM
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post #3 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-10-2014, 04:49 PM
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Nice review. Looking forward to more of your comments. I think you could work for an Automobile magazine based on the depth of your comments.
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post #4 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-10-2014, 04:59 PM
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Nice read. Thanks.
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post #5 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-10-2014, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by scarpi View Post
Nice review. Looking forward to more of your comments. I think you could work for an Automobile magazine based on the depth of your comments.
Thanks - you are making me blush!
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post #6 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-10-2014, 05:20 PM
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Very detailed and thorough review @PeteB. Usually I don't read long threads but you made it very interesting from beginning to end. It always interests me of peoples decision making in purchasing the Cherokee.
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post #7 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-10-2014, 05:38 PM
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Yes, an excellent review. Agreed with most and could find only one thing I would add to the Limited Edition. That would be the rear quarter window's made into wing like window's such as the Town & Country has. That would be my only addition to make it complete.
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post #8 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-10-2014, 05:53 PM
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Excellent review Pete! Can't wait for the rest to come.
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post #9 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-10-2014, 06:41 PM
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Great review Pete! I totally agree with you on some of the smaller items that could have been included or done slightly better for the higher trim and charge a little bit more. Shark-fin already coming on the 2015 so we'll see if some of the other things creep into the newer models as well.
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post #10 of 159 (permalink) Old 07-10-2014, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Part 2 - Technology Group

Technology Group

This is easily the best package on the Cherokee, both from its value for money and its relative completeness, functionality and usefulness, as a driver's aide and as a safety package. While it is easy to dismiss it as something every other SUV "also offers", or as a "nanny" that is unnecessary for a good driver, I beg to differ, on both counts.

I have looked at the competitors and found that very few automakers offer such a comprehensive package, at any price. The BMW X3 for example offered either lane sense or a heated wheel, but not both. In fact, in looking at the competition, I found only two SUVs that had even a remotely similar offering, the top of the line Acura MDX and the fully optioned Porsche Cayenne (probably the Macan too but it was not yet available when I made my decision). Both are considerably more expensive and larger than the Cherokee and the tech packages there can run you up to $ 15 K (especially on the Porsche), so the $2 K on the Cherokee Tech package is a very good investment. Obviously Jeep thought so too, as they have split the Tech group into two packages for 2015, and upped the price.

However, something being good value for money, doesn't always vouch for its quality. The real question was how good was it?

After nearly 2,000 Miles I can without reservations say that I am very, very impressed with everything in the Tech package, including features like the park assist, which I initially thought of as a pure gimmick.

The adaptive cruise control (ACC) is probably my favorite. After the initial mistrust that it will actually stop in time, it has been a lifesaver on several longer trips, where it made my driving job a breeze. It maintains the distance and speed accurately and is easy to operate and adjust. The full stop - start feature also is neat and rarely found in competitive systems. Combined with the Lane Sense, which not only warns, but steers the car back into the lane, these two together are virtually just a few steps away from a driverless car. However don't try to make the car drive itself – besides the constant warning to keep your hands on the wheel, the lane sense torque adjustment response in sharp curves is too slow for highway speeds and treating it as an independent system can be dangerous (this is a fact, not a criticism, as it was obviously never designed to drive itself). One thing I felt also worked really well was the Auto High Beam function - it drops the high beams when it senses a car close by, going in front or towards you. This operates flawlessly, especially on dark roads with little traffic and augments the Cherokee lights well (more about that, in the Luxury Package review segment). I recently did a 110 Mile night driving stretch, with high beams and averaging 70 mph, without ever touching the high beam controls.

The passive safety systems also work really well. I already had several instances where the Blind Spot and ParkSense warnings saved my Cherokee from potential scratches, and the backup camera is indispensable for Cherokee's geometry.

The active safeties are also good but sometimes too sensitive. Cross Path Detection saved me twice, when backing out, but it also gets easily triggered by undergound garage pillars, breaking suddenly (and scaring the beejesus out of my occupants). The rear Active ParkSense also brakes suddenly when backing up into tight spaces, even when I am confident that I have enough clearance. FCW has also given me some false readings, especially when I am side-passing a car that is waiting to turn, but it also has saved me at least once when the column of cars stopped suddenly and I didn't notice (while doing 55 mph). So even though these "nannies" can sometimes be intrusive, they are in fact doing what they were designed to do, and I am happy to leave them on .

Finally auto-parking, at least in my case, went from a gimmick to impress friends, to a useful tool. This is especially true of Parallel Parking, where (now that I somewhat trust the technology), I can park as fast as I could without the aide. It comes in very handy at night and when I am tired. I don't use the Perpendicular Park as often, mainly because it takes longer and also because I am not happy with the clearances it achieves on the passenger side (frequently too close to the other car, for my taste). I am still cautious enough to keep my foot over the brake while the autopark is taking place!

In conclusion, for anyone considering the Tech package (for 2015 broken into two packages- Safetytec and Technology), I can enthusiastically recommend that you get it - you won't be sorry!

(Next – Uconnect, Sound, Luxury Group and Panoramic Sunroof)
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