Car ReviewsFirst Drive

2014 Jeep Cherokee Sport review

Isaac Bober’s first drive 2014 Jeep Cherokee Sport review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.

In a nutshell The fifth-generation Jeep Cherokee is like no Cherokee that’s gone before it.

Practical Motoring says This new Cherokee Sport is a big step ahead of its predecessor in terms of quality and refinement, but this front-drive variant, as far as ride, handling and overall interior ambience is concerned, is a long way from the pointy end of the segment.

LOOKING AT THIS all-new, fifth-generation Cherokee it’s hard to believe its origins stretch right back to the Willys-Overland Quad of World War II. But they do. More than that, it’s almost impossible to connect this new swoopy, futuristic-looking KL Cherokee with the boxy KJ that went before it.

And that’s because Jeep is now owned by Fiat which means platform sharing along similar lines to that of the Volkswagen Group. Indeed, this new Cherokee is built on the Compact US Wide platform which is fundamentally the same platform that underpins the, wait for it, Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

Look hard enough at the new Cherokee, though, and you can see the nods to its past, like the peaked, seven-slot grille and the trapezoidal wheel arches. Now, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and while the new Cherokee, to my eyes at least, isn’t what you’d call beautiful, there’s no denying it’s got road presence with most people that walked past it giving it a good hard look.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Sport review

Like the exterior, the interior of the Cherokee Sport is all new too and while it’s miles better than its predecessor, it won’t keep either Kia’s or Volkswagen’s motor trimmers awake at night. Our test vehicle is an entry-level Cherokee Sport which is front-wheel drive only and priced from $33,500 (+ORC), and for that you get a smattering of soft touch plastics and an easy to understand dash layout, as well as Bluetooth and audio streaming as well sat-nav.

There’s plenty of head and shoulder room in the front and the seats are comfortable for longer distance drives; finding the right driving position is pretty easy thanks to reach and rake on the steering wheel. The back seats can be reclined and moved fore and aft by around 15cm; they fold completely flat too.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Sport review

Under the bonnet is a 2.4-litre MultiAir 2 four-cylinder petrol engine (which Jeep calls Tigershark, although I’ve got no idea why…) it produces 130kW (at 6400rpm) and 229Nm of torque (at 4600rpm) and is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Fuel consumption is a claimed 8.3L/100km although the best we achieved in our week with the Cherokee Sport was 9.1L/100km (over 600km).

While it might be a little optimistic on Jeep’s part to refer to the Cherokee Sport’s engine as a Tigershark, it’s certainly got enough grunt to keep up with traffic on the highway and handle the hills (with four on board) without running out of puff. And while Jeep has boasted it’s the first maker to fit a nine-speed auto into a mid-sized SUV, I think that nod actually goes to the Range Rover Evoque, although the Cherokee is certainly the cheapest SUV to feature a nine-speed auto.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Sport review

Bragging rights aside, the Cherokee’s nine-speed automatic is a little disappointing, lacking the refinement you’d expect from something with, well, nine speeds. At around town speeds, the transmission is clumsy and hesitant through the first few gears, although it smooths out once you hit the highway.

In terms of its ride and handling, the front-wheel drive Cherokee Sport sits towards the back end of the compact SUV class. On both bitumen and dirt the ride is best described as being okay, although as the surface becomes rougher the ride becomes choppier. And it’s not hard to get the Cherokee Sport to run out of grip at the front end, particularly on dirt.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Sport review

The steering is well weighted and direct, although the thick, plastic wheel feels pretty horrible in the hands, and while the brakes do a good job of pulling the thing up they’re not particularly progressive in their action.

In terms of safety, the Jeep Cherokee Sport gets a five-star ANCAP rating, along with the rest of the range, as well as seven airbags and traction and stability control as standard, as well as rollover mitigation, and hill start assist. It also gets a reversing camera with audible proximity warning.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Sport

Price From $33,500 (+ORC)
Warranty three years, 100,000 kilometres
Safety five-star ANCAP
Engine 2.4-litre MultiAir four-cylinder petrol
Power/Torque 130kW/229Nm
Transmission nine-speed automatic
Body 4624mm (L); 1858mm (W); 1670mm (H)
Thirst 8.3L/100km (combined)

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3 Comments

  1. Douglas9305
    October 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm — Reply

    Wow, setting the quality bar with Kia and VW – how times have changed!

    • October 10, 2014 at 4:38 pm — Reply

      Hi Douglas, well, it’s all relative and those two brands do a good job of interiors in that segment. Sadly, the Cherokee is a little off the pace. Cheers, Isaac (editor).

    • October 15, 2014 at 10:13 am — Reply

      Hi Douglas, well, it’s all relative and those two brands do a good job of interiors in that segment. Sadly, the Cherokee is a little off the pace. Cheers, Isaac (editor).

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober