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2014 Jeep Cherokee Replaces Liberty, Boasts Trail-Rated Capability

3/27/2013
A new 2014 Jeep Cherokee debuted at the 2013 New York International Auto Show, replacing the cancelled Liberty model. Riding on a Fiat Group platform, and equipped with front-wheel or 4-wheel drive (4WD), the new 2014 Cherokee is something more than a simple midsize crossover SUV. Configure the redesigned Cherokee properly, and Jeep says it offers "Trail-Rated" capability in terms of ground clearance, water fording capability, wheel articulation, traction, and maneuverability. In fact, according to Jeep, the new Cherokee is more capable than the Liberty that it replaces.

"The all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee will be the benchmark for mid-size SUVs with a new level of on-road driving dynamics and fuel economy, while at the same time improving the 4x4 capability that customers expect from Jeep," said Mike Manley, president and CEO-Jeep Brand, Chrysler Group LLC.

Starting at the beginning of the story, the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee is offered in Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk trim levels--the latter model the one that is equipped with the most robust 4WD system and the Trail-Rated badges as standard equipment. Front-wheel drive is standard for the other Cherokee models, and buyers can choose between a 4-cylinder and a V-6 engine as well as from three different 4WD systems: Jeep Active Drive 1; Jeep Active Drive II; and Jeep Active Drive Lock. A new 9-speed automatic transmission is standard for all 2014 Cherokee models.

The standard engine is a 2.4-liter Tigershark 4-cylinder generating 184 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 171 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm. Jeep says that this engine returns up to 31 mpg on the highway while providing nearly 500 miles of range between station visits thanks to its 15.9-gallon fuel tank.

A new 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6 engine is optional, based on the award-winning, larger-displacement 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine and rated to deliver 271 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 239 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm. Cherokee models equipped with the E85-compatible V-6 engine can tow up to 4,500 pounds, a best-in-class rating according to Jeep.

Buyers seeking a 4WD system have three from which to choose. The Jeep Active Drive I system is the simplest, automatically transferring power from the front wheels to the rear wheels when necessary and including a yaw correction feature to reduce oversteer and understeer when it occurs. A rear-axle disconnect helps to conserve fuel. Jeep Active Drive I is optional for Sport, Latitude, and Limited trim levels of the new Cherokee.

A Jeep Active Drive II system includes a 2-speed power transfer unit with low-range gearing. With the 4-cylinder engine, the crawl ratio is 56:1. With the V-6 engine, the crawl ratio is 47.8:1. Ride height is increased by 1 inch with Jeep Active Drive II, and this 4WD system includes a rear axle disconnect to help conserve fuel.

Jeep Active Drive Lock enhances Jeep Active Drive II with a locking rear differential, and is standard for the 2014 Cherokee Trailhawk model.

Any Cherokee with 4WD includes a new Selec-Terrain traction control system with five different settings including Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud, and Rock. The 2014 Cherokee is also equipped with hill-ascent control, hill-descent control, and 4-wheel-disc brakes with vented front rotors. Jeep confirms that front-drive Cherokees have anti-lock brakes, but does not say if the Cherokee 4WD does. Electric steering is standard, and the 4-wheel-independent suspension offers 6.7 inches of front-wheel articulation combined with 7.8 inches of rear-wheel articulation.

To ensure that it lives up to its Trail-Rated badges, the 2014 Cherokee Trailhawk is equipped with unique 17-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in 245/65 all-terrain tires, 50 pounds of underbody skid plates, red tow hooks, and improved approach, departure, and breakover angles than other Cherokees. Unique paint colors are offered for the Trailhawk model, which has matte gray exterior trim and is offered with an optional flat-black hood graphic.

Otherwise, all Cherokees have aerodynamic styling with a unique new face incorporating a traditional 7-slot Jeep grille flanked by triple lighting elements on either side of it. The upper element contains the LED running lights and turn signal indicators, the central element is for the Cherokee's headlights, and most models have a set of fog lights mounted in the lower element. Beyond the Cherokee's front styling, the SUV displays traditional Jeep cues that are punctuated at the rear with LED taillights.

Inside, Jeep promises that the 2014 Cherokee will offer premium materials and a quiet cabin. Soft-touch surfaces are applied to the dashboard, upper door panels, and armrests, and buyers can replace the standard premium cloth seats with chairs covered in Nappa leather upholstery. The Cherokee seats five people, and offers a minimum of 24.8 cubic. feet of cargo space with the rear seat moved all the way back in its track. Fold the rear seat, and the Cherokee can handle up to 54.9 cubic feet of cargo.

The new Cherokee is equipped with 10 standard air bags, and can be optioned with 9-1-1 Assist service, a reversing camera, rear cross-path detection system, and blind-spot monitoring.

Additionally, the 2014 Cherokee introduces numerous new safety technologies for Jeep, and for Chrysler. Lane Departure Warning Plus provides visual and haptic warnings when the Cherokee is unintentionally drifting from its lane. Adaptive Cruise Control Plus employs a radar unit and a camera to provide full-speed-range cruise control. Forward Collision Warning Plus uses that same radar unit and camera to identify dangerous closing rates with objects ahead, preparing the braking system for emergency stopping, providing audible and visual warnings of danger, applying the brakes if the driver does not respond, and engaging an Advanced Brake Assist system if the driver doesn't brake hard enough.

In another first for a Chrysler vehicle, the 2014 Cherokee is offered with optional Park Sense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, which steers the SUV into a parallel or perpendicular parking space while the driver operates the pedals and shifts the transmission. Cherokee buyers can also option this model with heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, color 7-inch reconfigurable gauge cluster, Jeep Cargo Management System, panoramic glass sunroof, retractable canvas roof panel, and more.

Jeep will also offer its Uconnect 8.4 color touch-screen infotainment system for the 2014 Cherokee. This system, which bundles navigation and audio systems with Bluetooth calling and music streaming, voice-to-text messaging, and mobile applications, can be operated using redundant hard controls and/or voice commands. A wireless charging pad will also be offered for the Cherokee.

Pricing and an on-sale date have not been announced. The new Cherokee is built in Toledo, Ohio, and its engines are made in Michigan. Jeep plans to sell this SUV in more than 150 different countries.

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