Sometimes, you’ve gotta take a risk. That’s exactly what Jeep is doing with the new 2014 Cherokee, first by resurrecting an iconic and somewhat controversial nameplate for use on a crossover suv, second by replacing the boxy Liberty off-roader with a crossover SUV, and third by designing a crossover SUV that looks like something out of a Stephen King novel.
On that first point, I’m not convinced that Cherokee is the right name for this vehicle, and not because of a sense of political correctness. This would have made an excellent replacement for the largely unloved Compass. I’d rather see the Cherokee name affixed to a boxy, retro-style SUV constructed on the Wrangler platform.
On that second point, the Liberty wasn’t very good at much of anything, and the Cherokee Trailhawk model is pretty good at almost everything, so who cares if it is built on an Alfa Romeo platform and comes standard with front-wheel drive? The “Trail Rated” Trailhawk is the real deal.
On that third point, I’ll say this: the new 2014 Cherokee looks better in person than it does in pictures, especially with the bigger wheels and tires that are included with the more expensive versions of this SUV. Still, it definitely represents an acquired taste.
To see if I could acquire a taste for the Cherokee, I accepted an invitation from Jeep to spend a couple of hours driving it on difficult trails and twisting mountain roads near Malibu, Calif., and on the city streets and freeways of the nearby Los Angeles suburbs. Call me crazy, but there’s plenty to like about Jeep’s new crossover.