2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4 Rental Review, Avis/National

2014 Jeep Cherokee_frontNotable standard features on National’s 2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4

  • 2.4L 4-cyl TigerShark MultiAir engine (184-hp, 171 ft-lb), 9-speed automatic transmission; 0-60 mph ~ 9 seconds
  • 21/28 (city/hwy) mpg fuel economy
  • Regular gas
  • 54.9 cubic feet cargo space (2nd row seats folded)/24.6 cubic feet cargo space ( 2nd row seats up)
  • Power windows, heated mirrors, locks
  • Leather wrapped tilt & telescoping steering wheel with audio & cruise controls
  • 6-way manual front seats, two tone cloth with seat insert
  • Manual headlamps
  • Single zone manual HVAC
  • 6 speaker audio with AM/FM/CD/MP3 (NO Sirius XM)
  • 5-inch touchscreen with UConnect
  • Inputs: USB, SD, Aux, Bluetooth
  • 115V outlet
  • 60/40 split folding/reclining 2nd row bench seats
  • Cruise control
  • 4×4 SelecTerrain

National Classification: IFAR (Intermediate SUV)
Avis Classification: Intermediate SUV

PROS:

- Avant garde styling
- Low step-in height
- Rear seat comfort/legroom
- Interior quality, IP cluster, center stack

CONS:

- Big B-pillar blind spots
- Buzzy 4-cyl engine
- Not as athletic as the Escape
- 9-speed transmission benefits?

CONCLUSION: The Liberty is but a distant memory.  Great remake, but not quite as good as the Ford Escape. 

It’s funny, the National station manager immediately knew which vehicle I was referring to when I asked for the “ugly Jeep”.  The distinctively styled front grille has since grown on me after this past rental, but I think that whatever your feelings on the new design, Jeep deserves some credit for trying something new.

2014 Jeep Cherokee_front three fourths

During this rental, I received a lot of questions from bewildered pedestrians who inquired as to the make.  Even car enthusiasts stopped to ask me about the new grille.  At least the controversial nose has people talking about the new Cherokee.

2014 Jeep Cherokee_rear three fourthsThe new ’14 Cherokee has been in service with National Car Rental for nearly a month now.  It’s an IFAR or Intermediate SUV classification, pitting it against the 2014 Ford Escape (more on that comparison later).

The Latitude is a mid-level trim and this particular Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4 clad in Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl Coat Paint had an as-rented MSRP of about $26,495, with no other options.

The new Cherokee is light years ahead of the old Liberty that it replaces.  I’m not sure why Jeep still needs the Compass and Patriot, but they may be on their way out, to be replaced by a Fiat-based small, entry level Jeep.

2014 Jeep Cherokee_2.4L engine, angled

Polarizing looks aside, how did it drive?  The 2.4L TigerShark four cylinder engine is standard on the Latitude.  Unfortunately, it was a buzzy little powerplant.  Hopefully rental fleets will acquire some Jeep Cherokees with the uprated 3.2L V6 engine.

The new nine-speed transmission shifted smoothly, but provided no discernible benefit to fuel economy, as I averaged a piddling 20 mpg in city driving.

2014 Jeep Cherokee_dashboardDriver visibility was obstructed in the Cherokee, due to wide B-pillars.  The front seats were adequate although the rear seats were king due to high mounted seat cushions and generous legroom.

I think the Cherokee’s strongest suit might be its interior dashboard.  The center stack design, featuring a 5-inch UConnect-powered touchscreen, was exceptionally simplistically laid out and clean.  Lots of soft touch material on the dashboard too.

The media connectivity hub, comprising USB, SD, and AUX inputs, was quite impressive.  A 115V outlet is provided for rear passengers.  Sadly, a complimentary Sirius subscription was missing from this Jeep trim level.  A nifty underseat storage is present beneath the front passenger seat.

2014 Jeep Cherokee_3.5 inch TFT display

I especially liked the instrument panel gauge cluster, which used a futuristic looking 3.5 inch TFT display combined with Cherokee-unique gauges on either side.  I appreciated that Jeep gave the Cherokee a unique IP cluster, rather than share elements from its elder Grand Cherokee.2014 Jeep Cherokee_5 inch UConnect screen

Infuriatingly, Dodge/Jeep (can’t recall if Chrysler also does this) still insist on NOT using actual temperatures for their HVAC controls, but instead use a rather simplistic “cold=blue and red=hot” display adjustment?

Anyway, how does the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude stack up against the 2014 Ford Escape SE?  Not well.

See our previous review of the 2014 Ford Escape SE here: 2014 Ford Escape SE 2.0L-AWD

The ’14 Ford Escape SE is the most commonly found Escape trim at National.  Comparatively, the Latitude lacks power seats (10-way ones for the Escape’s driver), a rear view camera, no automatic headlights, and no Sirius XM.  I thought the Escape had more comfortable front seats as well.

2014 Jeep Cherokee_17 inch painted aluminum wheels

The ’14 Ford Escape SE is also the better handling and more athletic vehicle of the two.   Furthermore, its 1.6L EcoBoost engine is  less buzzy with superior fuel economy, all without a newfangled nine-speed transmission.

I also preferred the Escape’s more advantageous visibility and inset blind spot mirrors integrated into its sideview mirrors.

2014 Jeep Cherokee_upper grilleThe Cherokee does have an advantage of a cleaner dashboard design and center stack area, unlike the Escape’s crazy maze of buttons on non-MyFordTouch equipped trim levels.

I’d love to try the Cherokee with a higher trim level, say Trailhawk or Limited, equipped with the optional 3.2L V6, to see how it stacks up against the 2.0L equipped Ford Escape.

For more information on the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, please refer to the manufacturer’s webpage here:

http://www.jeep.com/en/2014/cherokee

 

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