Time was, owning a Jeep meant you prioritized being outdoors and being unstoppable over looks and comfort. That time died when the SUV craze first hit in the 90’s, when the new Cherokees brought the Jeep brand out of the red rocks and into the suburbs. While the Wrangler has stayed true to the rough, and uncomfortable, ethos the rest of the lineup has embraced the fact that 95% of Jeeps sold today will never go off road. Enter the 2014 Cherokee, and the full suburbanization of the Jeep.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually mean that as a compliment. This is the most comfortable and stylish Jeep I’ve been in, and I’ve been in them all. The new Cherokee seems to bring the storied American brand kicking and screaming into the 21st century, and they did it with more than a little help from their new Italian family. This thing rides with a comfort and smoothness of a German sedan, and the interior is blessedly devoid of D-grade plastics or excessively chunky switches. The Cherokee is plush.
On the road, you still get the unflappable confidence that the Jeep brand has been built on, but with a refinement that makes this vehicle feel closer to a Land Rover than to the rock-crunching Wrangler. I can honestly say that this is the best vehicle Jeep has built in decades, and finally puts the brand on par with any other soft-roader currently out there.
Many people are held up by the looks of the new Cherokee, but I’ll say this: reserve judgment until you’ve seen it up close in person. It is much less “challenging” when you are standing next to it. Just as the Nissan Juke seemed crazy at first but now looks normal and commonplace, I think this new Cherokee will age very well.
The days of prioritizing ruggedness over livability are finally gone with Jeep. The king is dead, long live the king.