2014 Jeep Cherokee First Drive: Introduction
America might be the land of the free and the home of the brave, but Liberty is dead.
The Jeep Liberty that is.
For model year 2014, Jeep is dusting off a nameplate the brand laid to rest in back in 2001 and is applying it to the all-new mid-size 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Actually, this statement is a bit less than accurate. Truth be told, the Cherokee name has been in continual use. But, it has run with the modifier “Grand”—as in Jeep Grand Cherokee. Back in the early days of the Grand Cherokee, it was actually more like a trim level of the Cherokee lineup. Eventually the Grand Cherokee became a model unto itself and the plain-old basic Cherokee fell by the wayside.
Then in 2002, the Jeep Liberty was introduced as the mid-size Jeep offering, essentially replacing the Cherokee in the United States. However, the model continued to be known as the Cherokee in European markets—so in bringing back the Jeep Cherokee moniker for the 2014 model year—more so than a new introduction for Jeep—it is actually a return of the nameplate to its “native” roots.
And yet, there’s more to that European reference than first meets the eye. As many of you know, Chrysler is now a subsidiary of the Fiat Group of Italy. The first Chrysler product to benefit from this was the Dodge Dart—which shares its platform with an Alfa Romeo model (Alfa is also a member of the Fiat Group). And yes, we now have the first Jeep model to be based on a European platform, as those same basic underpinnings are employed for the 2014 Jeep Cherokee too.
This is fitting in many different ways. Road manners have become just as important in this segment of the SUV marketplace as off road capability. A nice dose of European roadability, blended with Jeep’s trail ready philosophy…
Hey, it might be a good thing—let’s find out.