Last year I attended the launch of the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Although automotive press trips are well planned and attended, they only provide a glimpse into the real-world application of the given test vehicle. This being the case, I was happy to pick up that half day drive experience with Automotive Rhythms’ 2014 Cherokee Latitude 4×4 at home in Maryland for a couple days of city running and kid shuffling fun.
Around town the True Blue Pearl Latitude easily handled the tough terrain of the city streets thanks to new front and rear independent suspensions. Powering our concrete jungle conqueror is a 3.2-liter V6 engine and fluid 9-speed automatic transmission with an EPA of 27 highway mpg. Unfortunately, my combination of rough city and speedy highway galloping didn’t yield the positive mpg results I had hoped for. This could’ve been directly correlated to the spirited acceleration and handling I became addicted to.
Inside, there was more than enough rear cargo space to accommodate soccer equipment and gear, two scooters, three folding chairs and a cooler for a day on the field. You will also find one of the most instinctive navigation and audio technologies in the automotive field. Chrysler’s Uconnect multi-media system is intuitive, user-friendly and entertaining. Our unit came in the form of the larger and optional $500 8.4A touchscreen display. Furthermore, the $1,995 Comfort/Convenience Group package empowered our SUV with the ParkView Rear Back-up Camera, Power Liftgate, Remote Start System, Passive Entry/Keyless Go, A/C Auto Temperature Control with Dual Zone Control, Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror w/Microphone, Power 8-Way Driver Seat, Power 4-Way Driver Lumbar Adjust, Automatic Headlamps, Security Alarm, SiriusXM Satellite Radio w/1-Yr Radio Subscription, Universal Garage Door Opener, a Tonneau Cover and a Cargo Net. Not bad for 2 Gs!
Although the Cherokee Latitude model doesn’t flex the “Trail Rated” badge as its sibling, the Cherokee Trailhawk edition, the American SUV instills a deserved sense of off-road confidence unlike other compact SUVs we’ve evaluated. Most possess finesse for the urban streets but feel inadequate for anything beyond curb climbing. Aficionados will appreciate Jeep’s attention to detail and small touches such as the little Jeep Willy icon roaming the lower inside windshield, which even caught the attention of my observant 7-year-old Jeep enthusiast. It’s amusing little details like this combined with proven on and off-road capabilities that continue to make the Jeep experience exciting and engaging. The Latitude resumes this legacy valiantly.
MSRP begins at $26,495 but our model was enhanced with added features to bring the tally to $31,480. We’ll see you out on the trails!