Another bone-chilling freeze has fallen upon us in Michigan, which so freaked out associate Web editor and Nashville native Joey Capparella that he took our 2014 Jeep Cherokee south to his hometown at the first sight of a snowflake.
How’d the Jeep fare on his 1,100-mile road trip? “It’s got all the required ingredients for a prime highway car: quiet, smooth ride; active safety features that enable semi-autonomous driving; an easy-to-use infotainment system; and decent fuel economy,” Capparella says.
“The suite of active safety features in the Cherokee’s $2,155 Technology Group is well worth the money,” he adds. “The adaptive cruise control is one of the best I've used, thanks to its smooth operation and predictability. Plus it helped mask the strange, clunky behavior of this transmission, which we’ve moaned about many times before.”
On the trip, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee exactly matched the EPA’s 26-mpg highway rating, but it seemed thirstier due to its nearly 16-gallon fuel tank. “It only affords a 330-mile range, which meant stopping for gas four times on my trip, when other cars I’ve taken on the same route have only required two stops,” Capparella says. “Other compact crossovers either get much better fuel economy (like the Honda CR-V’s 34 mpg highway) or have much larger tanks (like the Chevrolet Equinox’s 18.8-gallon tank).”
When the 2014 Jeep Cherokee returned to Michigan, its “Oil Change Required” light came on so we took it in for service. Before heading out, we loaded the Jeep’s cargo area with four 235/55R-18 Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1 winter tires, purchased from Tire Rack for $688.40. The dealership installed the winter tires for $48, and the factory-scheduled oil change, which went off without a hitch, cost us nothing (under warranty). We then spent $225.44 to install a slew of accessories to get our Jeep ready for winter.
What accessories? Black powder-coated, steel Mopar rock rails ($1,189); all-weather Mopar floor mats for the first and second rows and the cargo area, ($210); a Mopar roadside emergency kit, which includes jumper cables, gloves, a four-in-one tool, pliers, screwdrivers, bungee cords, and a blanket ($97); and Thule roof-rail crossbars with ski/snowboard attachments ($523). Unfortunately, we have issues with both the roof and rock rails.
Let’s start on top: The crossbars couldn’t mount directly to the standard roof rails, so the crossbars had to strap on top of them. This looks goofy (see above), even more so when you add the ski/snowboard attachments. Then there are the rock rails, which fit fine but required removal of our front mudflaps. We can do without mudflaps but not with the two, big holes behind the front wheels (see below) that the mudflaps left in their absence. Mopar and Jeep are looking into both issues.
They’re also looking into a recent tech service bulletin (TSB) posted for the 2014 Jeep Cherokee that updates software for cars “experiencing inconsistent and/or harsh 1-2 or 2-3 upshifts.” While at the dealership, we asked the service technician if the bulletin applied to our Cherokee, and he said there were no open Rapid Response Transmittals (Chrysler’s inane term for TSBs) for the vehicle. As noted above, we’ve long complained about our Jeep’s shift quality, so we’re hoping to get an answer soon.
Meanwhile, between its factory-fitted heated seats, heated steering wheel, and remote start, and the winter tires and accessories we’ve installed, our 2014 Jeep Cherokee should be ready to face winter’s worst -- even if we’re not.
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