The last few years have not been very kind to Jeep. Whether it’s the new Jeep models having lackluster sales, or Jeeps in general being derided as some of the most unreliable cars on the market today by publications like JD Power, Jeep is desperate for a winner. Enter the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee. The former Cherokee, going under the Jeep Liberty name in the US, has been a consistent seller for over a decade, building a loyal fan base. Its success has been fueled by such monikers as “It’s a Jeep Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand.” The latest iteration of the Cherokee has some bold styling points, and transitions the brand from a venerable workhorse off-road type vehicle to a modern, compact to mid-sized SUV that looks as comfortable in a suburban parking lot as it does in a mud puddle. It’s been getting a lot of attention from the press and consumers alike, with most focusing on one singular question; is this new 2014 Jeep a hit, or a miss?
A Departure of Form
As previously noted, the Liberty/Cherokee has been a consistent bright spot for Jeep. It’s a simple vehicle that’s tough, refuses to die, is easy to fix, and is versatile enough to handle any job. These facts have led to an army of loyal Cherokee owners, who believe the Cherokee is basically a truck without a bed, a workhorse that take everything you throw at it and more. It’s for this reason that the new Cherokee styling is being met with such disdain from Jeep enthusiasts. There is no way around it: the new Cherokee looks like a crossover SUV. Nothing about it says ‘truck.’ The latest incarnation, though keeping the distinctive grill in some form, reeks of a vehicle that will never see a dirt road. This is not an accident; Jeep is trying to reposition itself as a leader in mid-sized SUVs, and this Cherokee is for the masses – not just people who want take it offroad.
Controversial styling aside, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee offer some serious changes under the hood and body. The nine-speed (yes, you read that right) automatic transmission is standard across the board, which allows the Jeep to get a lot better than 18-20 MPG that was standard on older Cherokee models. These new bells and whistles make a lot of noise and sure do look nice, but the true test of the Cherokee will be ten years from now, when the reliability of the new improvements can be compared against the bulletproof Cherokee that built loyal customers for the last 15 years.
Will Jeep Sales Be Boosted by a More Consumer Friendly Design?
With new Jeep models getting ready to launch soon, perhaps sales will be the ultimate judge of the Jeep Cherokee. The styling is sure to turn off some hardcore Jeep fans, but, for those who were considering a Mazda CX-5 or Ford Escape, the suddenly very similarly designed Jeep may be your choice instead. As previously noted, the long-term success of the Jeep Cherokee may depend on whether or not it has increased reliability compared to the previous Jeep. Today’s consumers demand extended reliability, and, if the new Jeep Cherokee doesn’t come through on that, all the styling and technology in the world won’t overcome it. Looks for the 2014 Jeep Cherokee at a dealership near you starting in September.