“Don’t order a 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk for a Four Seasons test. Don’t order a Trailhawk. Don’t do it.” The Trailhawk’s bright-red front tow hooks, matte black appliques, off-roading bits, and bird badge on the back end made the inner child in each of us a bit giddy. But we knew that the current, car-based Cherokee would pale next to the tough, XJ Cherokees we had bounced along in on dirt paths. So, as mature adults, we instead ordered a totally pedestrian 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4.

A “normal” Cherokee is what almost every other Jeep owner will experience, so why not be part of the masses? “It’s the sensible thing to do,” we told ourselves.

“This is a perfectly nice crossover with a well-trimmed interior, a decently powerful V-6 engine, and a composed ride,” says associate web editor Joey Capparella. His web colleague, Jake Holmes: “The Cherokee drives like a car, with really good steering and brakes. The cabin is quiet, the seats very comfortable, and the interior pleasant and roomy.” Eric Weiner, yet another web dude, says, “The Uconnect infotainment system is great, as we know, and the cabin is comfortable and appears well put together.” Even videographer Sandon Voelker, who owns a lifted XJ Cherokee, says, “I'm glad we didn’t get the Trailhawk. The model we ordered handles very well in traffic and on the freeway.”

The Jeep hasn’t seen mud yet, but senior editor David Zenlea did test the prosaic Cherokee’s wading depth. “Flash flooding paralyzed roads in metro Detroit, including several right outside our office. I interpreted this as, ‘playtime.’ I put the car in sand/mud mode because, well, I like turning dials and flipping switches. I splashed through the knee-deep water a dozen times and came through just fine.” Another staffer took the Jeep on sandy off-road paths in northern Michigan. Utilizing sand/mud mode, he said the 4-wheel-drive system worked wonderfully and kept the Cherokee charging along, and that the Jeep felt more at home on the soft trails than on any of the highways he’d taken to get to those trails. “A Trailhawk would’ve been cool, but I think this Jeep still has a lot potential for fun,” he said.

Check back next month, when we try to force ourselves to stay on pavement to see how our pedestrian Cherokee fares at truly pedestrian tasks.

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