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2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 4X4 Arrival

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 8/12/2014 motortrendauthor

Not two days after I'd taken the helm of the Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl Coat (whew!) Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk that arrived in our parking garage, I couldn't take it anymore. The urge to run over objects large enough to cause at least minor damage to lesser vehicles had become too much to restrain. I turned towards the nearest empty parking lot and began climbing parking curbs and concrete medians to get my fix. I'm fairly sure any onlookers assumed I was blind. Is urban off-roading a thing?It might be soon, depending on how many Cherokee Trailhawks fall into consumer hands. The Trailhawk designation is an important one: It takes the Alfa Giulietta/ Dodge Dart-based Cherokee from two-wheel-drive crossover to four-wheel-drive off-roader. Not only do Trailhawks get off-road-ready Firestone tires, a 1-inch suspension lift, skidplates, and unique front and rear fascias to improve ground clearance, they also get a two-speed transfer case with a low gear along with a locking differential. And check out those red tow hooks front and rear -- I hope I won't have to rely on them. Underhood sits the optional 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6 engine ($1495), which is paired to Chrysler's new nine-speed automatic.Though you could refer to the exterior as somewhat rugged-looking, the interior is anything but. Supportive seats, sleek design, and good ergonomics are all hallmarks of the Cherokee's cabin. A few option packages round out the Jeep. The Comfort/Convenience Group ($1495) includes a power liftgate, rearview camera, remote start, auto headlights, and a power driver's seat, among other things. The Technology Group ($2195) brings active safety tech including blind-spot and cross-path detection, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and rain-sensing wipers. The full suite of UConnect infotainment options costs another $795 and includes satellite radio capability, navigation, and the like. The premium nine-speaker stereo and subwoofer package ($395) rounded out the options list to bring the Jeep's total cost to $37,265.

My LT Cherokee Trailhawk is hitting the dirt at the earliest opportunity, rest assured.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 4X4 Arrival 2014-Jeep-Cherokee-Trailhawk-front-view-in-motion1© Provided by MotorTrend 2014-Jeep-Cherokee-Trailhawk-front-view-in-motion1

The Cherokee's sheetmetal is polarizing to say the least. I've had as many people tell me they like the pointy front end as those who feel the opposite. Love it or hate it, it's an eye-catching face. I only wish the somewhat bland sides showed a little more creativity.So far, in a couple thousand miles on the road, the Jeep has been averaging just over 21 mpg. That's actually a pretty good figure, considering that the EPA combined rating is 20 mpg. Still, prospective Cherokee owners who want to squeeze out as much efficiency as possible would be well-advised to stick with the front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder version, which is EPA rated at 25 mpg combined.How's the driving experience otherwise? With the off-road suspension, the Jeep rides a little choppier on the freeway than the standard Cherokee, but it's not a big enough difference that I regret opting for the Trailhawk package. In fact, the seats are some of most comfortable I've experienced recently (passengers have told me the same) and the interior ergonomics are also good, with virtually all controls within easy reach. Dual-zone climate control is effective for the current Southern California summer, though cooled seats would have been the icing on the cake. Sometimes you can't have everything.The big question is whether the Jeep will be equally adept at the weekday commute as it is weekends on the trails. I've already seen a few sideways glances from a neighbor who owns a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon that often returns home caked in evidence of trail use. Owners of "Real Jeeps" (you know the sort) will, no doubt, look down their noses at even the Trailhawk variant, but I'm hoping the Cherokee will be able to surprise the doubters out on the trails.

Our Car
Base price $30,490
Price As-tested $37,265
Service life2601 mi
Average fuel economy21.1 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.92 lb/mi
EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ18/25/20 mpg
Energy consumption160 kW-hrs/100mi
Unresolved problemsNone
Maintenance cost$0
Normal-wear cost$0

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