2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited
2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited
2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Brendan McAleer

“Give me Liberty, or give me Death.” It seems a fairly straightforward choice, but if we were talking about the Jeep Liberty, I might be enquiring, “So, tell me more about this whole Death option. Good financing rates?”

Well, perhaps that’s pegging the hyperbole-meter a bit too much. The fact remains, in the compact crossover market, the former Liberty was caught in a sort of compromise between trying to be a ranch hand and a city slicker at the same time. It was too agricultural where it needed to be smooth, and yet not quite as capable as a dedicated trailster like a Toyota FJ or a Nissan Xterra, or, oh I don’t know, a Jeep Wrangler.

However, as picking up any newspaper will tell you, Liberty is a thing of the past. 2014 marks a return of the Cherokee badge, and with the crossover market rapidly developing into the bread-and-butter profit centre that the family sedan used to be, it’s an important revival for Jeep, and for Fiat.

On first glance – wow. Just. Wow. That is some seriously polarizing styling. From the side, the Cherokee is a decent-looking rig, and not wildly outside the norm; ditto the rear view, although the puffed out section in line with the taillights is very slightly jarring. It’s still better than a RAV4.

Up front on the other hand – what were they thinking? Slitted headlights, multiple light pods, a chrome lower surround that scowls like a ticked-off tiki mask; it’s all a far cry from the cheerful, round-headlighted face we’ve grown to expect from Jeep.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited
2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. Click image to enlarge

Well, I like it. Yes, yes, jokes to follow about your humble author getting fitted for high-power prescription lenses or perhaps making a visit to the infirmary to stock up on anti-crazy pills, but what Fiat-Jeep has done here is not dissimilar to what Nissan has done with the Juke. It’s broken with the past, decided to build a car that doesn’t conform to expectations. And, seeing as expectations were based on the plastic-fantastic Liberty, perhaps that’s a very good thing indeed.

I put it to you that the Trailhawk version of this trucklet looks like the kind of thing Harrison Ford could use to run over replicants, Blade Runner style. In this Limited trim, with 18-inch chrome alloy wheels and more sedate amounts of satin black plastic, the Cherokee is perhaps not quite so ‘out there’, but it’s the sort of design that grows on you in the flesh.

Step inside and things get much more conventional. As a Limited, this particular Cherokee is swathed in leather and festooned with double-row stitching. But wait – blue and brown? What were they thinking?

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited
2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. Click image to enlarge

Again, it’s a case where we’ve all got used to interiors composed of dour black, fifty shades of grey, and oatmeal-surprise beige. The Cherokee’s two-tone treatment is a bit more fun, and the patterning should hide wear and tear reasonably well. Besides which, you can always order it in all black if you prefer.

From the front seats forward, the Cherokee is an echo of its larger stablemate, the Grand Cherokee. It’s no less Grand either, at this Limited-level trim, and comes equipped with the excellent Uconnect system, controlled by an 8.4” touchscreen and a voice-command setup that actually listens.

There are a few teensy annoyances, such as the need to be in the correct submenu to turn on the heated/ventilated seats and heated steering wheel, but if you’re not the sort of person to smash technology with a wooden shoe, it’s all very straightforward. The controls are large, brightly lit, and the system is quick to respond.

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