Intro Of all the many Jeeps that have worn the Cherokee name, none have faced more controversy upon their debut than the latest 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Called out for its car-based architecture and its untraditional styling, the all-new 2014 Cherokee has faced criticism, and yet this replacement for the discontinued Jeep Liberty has been a hit in the marketplace, driving the brand’s sales to new heights.

Given the hubbub in the marketplace and the importance of the 2014 Cherokee to Jeep, we knew that a Four Seasons test would be in order. Deciding on the specifications of our test vehicle was a little more difficult, since there are many varieties of Cherokee. Four-wheel drive was must, and we knew we wanted the optional 3.2-liter V-6 rather than the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder, which would be marginal in a 4WD application. That knocked out the Cherokee Sport, which is the base trim level. We also eliminated the off-road oriented 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, because we’re likely to be spending all of our time on pavement, just like most Cherokee owners. Choosing between the Cherokee Latitude and the Cherokee Limited was more of a toss-up, but we finally went for the fancier Limited so that we could try out all the active safety features, which are not available on the Latitude.

Those active safety items include blind spot warning, rear cross-path detection, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning, all part of the $2155 technology package, along with active park assist (parallel and perpendicular), adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, advanced brake assist, and automatic high beams. For $795 we added navigation to the Uconnect system. Add $1495 for the V-6 and $995 for four-wheel drive, and our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited’s base price of $30,990 (with destination) had grown to $36,430.

That’s steep for a compact SUV but not for a loaded-up midsize SUV, and the 2014 Jeep Cherokee straddles both categories. The 2014 Cherokee arrived just in time for the start of summer vacation season, which will certainly test its people- and cargo-carrying capacity. Later, we’ll test the Jeep’s fortitude over another long winter, but we’re trying not to think about that now. Throughout the year, we’ll debate whether the new Jeep Cherokee moves the nameplate forward in a more modern direction, or whether it’s an off note for a brand steeped in heritage.

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