Replacing an iconic nameplate - even more than a decade after it was last in service - is a tall order, especially for a company as steeped in its own history as Jeep. The 2014 Jeep Cherokee makes a dramatic break with tradition in a number of key ways, but at its core this new compact SUV is every bit as useful - and capable - as its boxy predecessor. In fact, not only is the 2014 Cherokee an improvement on the Cherokee of old, but it also significantly one-ups the now-departed Liberty, which never managed to find a place in the hearts of Jeep fans (or sport-utility vehicle buyers in general).
That the Jeep Cherokee now rides on a platform borrowed from a Fiat sedan, and features exterior styling that some would say qualifies as 'over the top' are just distractions from the fundamental truth that Jeep has presented us with a genuine alternative to the template employed by most compact family haulers currently on the market. More rugged than a Ford Escape, comfier than a Toyota RAV4, and certainly more stylish than a long list of conservatively curvy clones, the Cherokee expands Jeep's vocabulary down to the entry-level with a polished accent never before seen from the domestic brand.