The off-roading tradition of the Jeep Cherokee is truly unique. Although designs have changed its look and capabilities over the years, it remains one of the most beloved off-road vehicles available. The latest alterations made to the line of automobiles shouldn't change much about this reputation, but they are certainly worth a second look.
Blending old and new
When news about the Cherokee's return to the market was initially made, many off-roading enthusiasts were pleased. After all, the iconic brand hadn't been given a makeover in more than a decade, and a resurrection of the brand meant that a lot of attention was going to be paid to the model. To capitalize on this spotlight, Jeep designers wanted to give the new Cherokee a fitting new style.
"We wanted a design that has throwbacks to Jeep, but looks forward to the future," Mike Manley, head of the Jeep division of Chrysler Group, told USA Today.
Some characteristics of the new style include a seven-slot grille, lifted lights and trapezoidal wheel arches, which were inspired by some of the first military Jeeps, according to MLive.
Although the style may look different than past Jeeps, it still offers plenty of the abilities that the brand is known for. Additionally, the vehicle includes several "Easter eggs," such as the small outline of a military Jeep from the 1940s fitted on the windshield. Details such as these have only been around since 2010, but many drivers have come to expect them and view the touches as something that shows Jeep is connected to its roots.
Not without controversy
There has been some criticism directed at the 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Many have said that its new exterior design, which places an emphasis on sleek curves and front-end styling, strays too far from the original Jeep.
"[We had] to pay homage to Jeep's heritage and visually convey that this is an all-new Jeep, while still communicating legendary best-in-class capability," said Mark Allen, Jeep's chief designer, as quoted by Car and Driver magazine. "... We couldn't make it like a box."
While the pros and cons of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee line have been voiced, much of the success of each vehicle will depend on the individual drivers. Fans of off-road driving, for example, will particularly like the 2014 Trailhawk. It's smaller than some of its predecessors, but as one of the four versions of the Jeep Cherokee - along with Sport, Latitude and Limited - it offers plenty of off-road appeal.
2014 Cherokee models were tested in the American West, so drivers can be sure that the vehicles are ready to handle whatever gets thrown their way. That capability is only furthered by the four-wheel drive system, which Jeep claims to be one of its best.
"To be true to its roots, we needed to make sure it is the best four-wheel drive in its class by far," Jim Morrison, director of Jeep product marketing, told MLive. "I think we're being fair and loyal to the customers, but more important [is the fact that] we're being fair to the nameplate, because if we'd done nothing with that nameplate it would just die over time."
A Jeep lift kit has been installed to raise the vehicle by 1 inch, adding some additional ground clearance and room for tires. It also comes with three tow hooks: two in the front and one in the rear. Each of those is capable of handling loads of up to 8,250 pounds, according to Car and Driver magazine. Add in wheel flares, skid plates and a few other Jeep modifications, and you have an off-road vehicle that is primed for rock crawling or other forms of recreational driving.