2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited – Vanilla on Ice

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Long-Term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Update:
Spring 2015 ( 3 of 5 )
Miles to date: 17,667

A big part of Jeep’s identity is its go-anywhere, do-anything reputation. Our 2014 Jeep Cherokee doesn’t seem to fit that bill. Sure, it has all-wheel drive and high ground clearance, but given that we skipped the tougher Trailhawk trim, there’s a lot of skepticism about what this crowd-pleasing crossover can really do off the beaten path.
To see how the Jeep Cherokee lives up to the reputation of its capable predecessors, we knew we had to do something a little extreme. So we made the trip to northern Michigan, where drivers sharing our common disregard for good sense gather for a day of drift-happy ice racing on a frozen lake.

One of these things is not like the other

Before we even get on the lake for a practice run, we’re starting to feel a little self-conscious. WRX drivers are exchanging smiles with their kin in the closely related Saab 9-2X, a red Audi A4 is looking awfully chummy parked next to a screaming yellow RS4, and our own Four Seasons Ford Fiesta ST has even found its brethren among a black Fiesta ST and two yellow Focus STs. And we’re there in a crossover.
The only other Jeep we see is a badass Comanche with enormous studded tires, a lift kit, and lord-knows-what under the hood. With the Cherokee Limited’s mall-crawler crossover looks, we’re starting to feel like the black sheep of the bunch. Even the father-daughter duo piloting a garden-variety 2008 Honda Accord seems to have more street cred than us.

Ice, Ice, Baby

Out on the ice, our self-doubt diminishes some. We switch the Cherokee into Snow mode using the rotary knob next to the shift lever. The next step is to disable traction and stability control. One tap of the button disables traction control, but we have to hold the button down for a full 10 seconds until “ESC Full Off” appears in the instrument cluster display.
“Go!” says the starting marshal, and we nail the throttle, sending all four Blizzak tires digging into the frigid surface below. We get good momentum rather quickly, making it easy to heave the Cherokee’s bloated butt around the first right-hander. Unfortunately it’s late in the day and all of the snow has been sprayed off the lake’s surface, so even at full lock and full throttle, we just keep plowing toward the outside of our preferred driving line. But who really cares? No winning lap time can replace the raw satisfaction of drifting on an empty, frozen lake.
Finally the outside tires catch some snow on the edges of the carved-out circuit, and the Cherokee snaps back into shape. We have no problem picking up lots of speed through the straights, but the Cherokee is hesitant to let us maintain that momentum through corners. Although the stability control system is supposed to be off, it still kicks in when we slide at high speeds. The car automatically brakes mid-drift, sapping the speed we need to carry us through the corner.

Thawing out

Unlike some of the actual sports cars in attendance, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee never gets stuck thanks to its generous ground clearance and capable all-wheel-drive system. We even finish the course with a couple of respectable lap times. We can’t deny that the Jeep Cherokee is physically capable of handling the lake’s conditions, but it’s hard to ignore how out of place it both looks and feels surrounded by other cars with far more personality.
It’s much more at home in the parking lot between laps, where the heated steering wheel, soft leather heated seats, and satellite radio keep us comfortable and happy. We’re not even sure the tougher Trailhawk version would result in a better experience, except that the Trailhawk comes with recovery hooks that are absent in the Limited version. Can the Cherokee ice race? Sure. But should it? Probably not.

 

Overview

  • Body style 4-door SUV
  • Accommodation 5-passenger
  • Construction Steel unibody
  • Base price (with dest.) $30,990
  • As tested $36,430

Powertrain

  • Engine 24-valve DOHC V-6
  • Displacement 3.2 liters (198 cu in)
  • Power 271 hp @ 6500 rpm
  • Torque 239 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
  • Transmission 9-speed automatic
  • Drive 4-wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy 19/26/21 mpg (city/hwy/combined)

Chassis

  • Steering Electrically assisted
  • Lock-to-lock 2.7 turns
  • Turning circle 38.0 ft
  • Suspension, Front Strut-type, coil springs
  • Suspension, Rear Multilink, coil springs
  • Brakes F/R Vented discs/discs
  • Wheels 18 x 7.0-inch
  • Tires Continental ProContact TX
  • Tire size 225/60R-18

Measurements

  • Headroom F/R 39.4/38.5 in
  • Legroom F/R 41.1/40.3 in
  • Shoulder room F/R 57.6/55.1 in
  • Wheelbase 106.3 in
  • Track F/R 62.7/62.7 in
  • L x W x H 182.0 x 73.2 x 67.3 in
  • Passenger capacity 103.4 cu ft
  • Cargo capacity (rear seats up/down) 24.6/54.9 cu ft
  • Weight 4044 lb
  • Weight dist. F/R 57/43%
  • Fuel capacity 15.9 gal
  • Est. fuel range 334 miles
  • Fuel grade 89 octane (premium unleaded)

Equipment

  • standard equipment

    • 18-inch polished aluminum wheels
    • Jeep Active Drive I 4-wheel drive
    • Selec-Terrain system
    • Hill start assist
    • Trailer sway damping
    • Passive entry and pushbutton ignition
    • Remote start system
    • Rear backup camera
    • Dual-zone automatic climate control
    • Power windows
    • Uconnect audio system with 8.4-inch screen
    • Bluetooth
    • SiriusXM satellite radio w/3-month trial subscription
    • Heated front seats
    • Heated steering wheel
    • 8-way power driver seat
    • Cruise control
    • Tilt-and-telescopic steering column
    • LED DRLs and tail lamps

Options

  • technology group – $2155

    • Parallel and perpendicular park assist
    • Blind spot warning
    • Rear cross-path detection
    • Forward collision warning with crash mitigation
    • Lane departure warning
    • Adaptive cruise control
    • Advanced brake assist
    • Rain-sensing wipers
    • Automatic high beams
  • 3.2-liter V-6 – $1495
  • Active drive II – $995 Hill descent control
  • navigation – $795

    • HD radio
    • 1-year subscription to XM Traffic/Travel Link

 

source: Automobile Magazine

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