What is it? The replacement for the Jeep Liberty brings back a classic Jeep name for a modern car-based small SUV. But that doesn’t mean this Jeep is incapable off-road. The Cherokee will be offered in four different trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trail Hawk. Base models will be front-wheel drive, and three all-wheel-drive systems will be offered, ranging from automatic AWD to a version with low range and locking differential.
Trail Hawk models are equipped for trail blazing, with the more-serious “Trail Rated” off-road set up, one-inch more ground clearance, unpainted front fascia that allows steeper approach angles, and Firestone Destination A/T tires.
Two engines will be available: a 184-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 271-hp, 3.2-liter V6. A new nine-speed automatic is standard. Yes, you read that right.
The Cherokee is based a Fiat-derived architecture shared with the Dodge Dart. Jeep says it is designed to compete with the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and the Ford Escape (though it’s smaller than any of those models).
Pricing for the Cherokee is set to start at $22,995, plus $995 destination.
What is new or notable? With its nine-speed automatic transmission and four-cylinder engine, Jeep claims the Cherokee will be rated at 31 mpg on the highway. It will also be available with just about every electronic driver aid on the market: parking assist (front and rear), cross-traffic alert, active cruise control (with full-stop capability in some conditions), lane keeping, blind-spot monitoring, as well as the latest in Internet connectivity: Aha and Pandora radio integration. .
CR’s take: We had only a few minutes to sit in the Jeep. We found interior plush and roomy enough for four. But we hit our heads trying to duck under the low roofline getting into the back seat, and space felt more like a BMW X1 than Honda CR-V.
When will it be available? October 2013.