Purists not impressed with new Jeep Cherokee

DETROIT — The Jeep Cherokee is back, with a surprising design that could win some new buyers but lose some old fans.

The 2014 Cherokee midsize SUV makes its debut Wednesday at the New York International Auto Show. The remake is so radical that observers might not realize it’s a Jeep.

The new Cherokee ditches Jeep’s traditional boxy look for a more aerodynamic style. It replaces the brand’s signature round headlights with sharply angled slits. The interior is plush and full of luxury options like automatic parallel parking. Even Jeep’s seven-slat grille didn’t go untouched — it’s much smaller and creased in the middle to fold over the Cherokee’s nose.

It’s a look more reminiscent of a Honda CR-V than the model it replaces — the Liberty — and past Cherokees that helped establish Jeep as a symbol of toughness and off-road adventure.

All this isn’t sitting well with some Jeep fans, who say the 72-year-old brand is straying too far from its rugged, utilitarian roots. They bemoan the new styling and softer ride, saying it’s more suited for a trip to the mall than the Rubicon trail.

“It’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen on the road and to put a Jeep badge on it, let alone call it a Cherokee, is an insult to the name and heritage that Jeep has always delivered,” says Micah Myers, a longtime Jeep fan from Lexington Park, Md., who drives a 13-year-old Cherokee.

Chrysler Group, Jeep’s parent, acknowledges that the design is polarizing. But Jeep needs to win back the suburbanites who have spent the last decade defecting to a newer batch of car-like, fuel-efficient competitors like the Chevrolet Equinox and Toyota RAV4. The new Cherokee goes on sale this fall.

In 2002, after Jeep replaced the aging Cherokee with the cheaper, smaller Liberty, a record 171,212 were sold in the U.S., according to Ward’s AutoInfoBank. Last year that fell to 75,482. The CR-V outsold the Liberty by more than three to one.

“They need to do something different, and that kind of vehicle is something different altogether,” says Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst at the car-buying site Edmunds.com. “They have to stretch that brand.”

Jeep — and other automakers — are also under pressure to meet increasing U.S. fuel economy requirements. That explains the aerodynamic style and the new nine-speed transmission under the hood. The all-wheel-drive Liberty currently gets 22 miles per gallon on the highway, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, making it one of the worst performers among midsize SUVs. The new Cherokee will get up to 31 mpg on the highway.

Finally, Jeep needs the SUV to appeal to customers around the world, not just adventurous types. The Cherokee will be built in Toledo, Ohio, but exported to more than 150 countries, including China.

“We wanted a design that is fluid and efficient yet still rugged and looks at home on the trail or at the theater,” said Mark Allen, Jeep’s design chief.

The Cherokee first went on sale in 1974, when Jeep was still owned by American Motors Corp. In 1984, American Motors released a new Cherokee that was smaller, narrower and lighter than the original, essentially inventing the sport utility vehicle. Sales soared. More than 100,000 Cherokees were sold each year between 1986 and 2001. Off-roaders were big fans because of the Cherokee’s capability.

In 2001, Jeep’s new owner, Chrysler, revamped the SUV again. It changed the name to Liberty, which tested better in focus groups and helped attract new buyers. The Liberty initially sold well, but then struggled as the midsize SUV market got more crowded and Chrysler — which went through bankruptcy in 2009 — invested little money in it.

Krebs says bringing back the Cherokee name makes sense, since it fits neatly under its larger sibling, the Grand Cherokee SUV. It will also save Chrysler money, since the vehicle has always kept the Cherokee name in international markets.

But purists complain that the plush new model is nothing like Cherokees of old. For one thing, it shares a car underbody with Chrysler’s Italian partner, Fiat SpA, instead of a platform designed for off-roading. Nearly 900 fans have already “liked” a Facebook petition asking Chrysler not to call the new SUV a Cherokee.

David Silecchia, who has owned three Cherokee XJs from 1988, 1998 and 2000, thinks the 2014 Cherokee will sell, but not to rock-climbing adventurers like him.

“Jeep now seems to want to appeal to the people who go to the mall, throw a bunch of shopping bags in the back, drive home and read a book,” said Silecchia, a student and information technology worker in Georgia. “The 2014 Cherokee is a nice vehicle, don’t get me wrong, but not a suitable “rebirth” of the Cherokee name.”

Chrysler insists that the new Cherokee can capably tackle rough terrain. It has more low-gear power for towing and climbing steep grades than the 2001 Cherokee. At 184 horsepower, the base, four-cylinder engine is slightly less powerful than the 2001 Cherokee’s base V6, but it’s much more efficient. The new Cherokee also offers a 271-horsepower V6. The new Cherokee can tow up to 4,500 pounds, which is more than any other vehicle its size but about 500 pounds less than the 2001 version.

A Trailhawk edition of the new Cherokee carries Jeep’s “trail rated” badge, which means it can handle a series of challenging off-road conditions, including fording water.

Dave Sullivan, an analyst with the consulting firm AutoPacific, says the higher-priced, fully-loaded versions of the Cherokee should be very capable. But he thinks the drastic redesign will cost Jeep some loyalists.

Jeep, like Toyota, has been successful partly because its design changes are usually subtle, Sullivan says. The two-door Jeep Wrangler, for instance, has changed little since it went on sale in 1987, but it’s by far the best-selling small SUV in the U.S.

“This is not an edgy brand. It should not be about spending money on outrageous design,” he said. “It’s all about the off-road design and capability.”

ad-high_impact_4
News
LVMPD Arrests Suspect in Sunset Park Shooting
Captain Robert Plummer held a press conference at LVMPD headquarters Thursday to provide updates on the arrest of Anthony J. Wrobel, accused of killing a Venetian executive and wounding one other in a shooting on Sunday.
Two Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Share Their Story
Two Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Share Their Story Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson sat down with ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ on Thursday and said the Starbucks manager called the police two minutes after they arrived. Donte Robinson, to 'Good Morning America' Donte Robinson, to 'Good Morning America' The men were meeting with a friend for a business meeting at the store’s location at around 3:45 pm on April 12 and declined to make any purchases. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson issued a public apology and vowed to fix the issue by closing 8,000 stores nationwide next month for training on unconscious bias. Both Nelson and Robinson were released without charges after spending hours in jail, and the manager is no longer with the company.
Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots
Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots Tammie Jo Shults is being called a hero after safely landing the crippled Southwest Flight 1380 in Philadelphia. According to a spokesperson, Shults began her Navy career in 1985 and was one of the first female pilots to “transition to tactical aircraft.” She served for another eight years before moving to the Naval Reserve, retiring completely in 2001 with the rank of Lt. Commander. The Southwest flight, which was headed for Dallas from New York, was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its engines blew. One passenger was killed in the explosion when shrapnel flew through a window. Seven others suffered minor injuries aboard the flight, which carried 149 people. Passenger Peggy Phillips, to NBC News Passenger Peggy Phillips, to NBC News
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
David Copperfield executive producer testifies during the magician's civil trial
A British tourist is suing illusionist David Copperfield saying he was injured during a trick. Chris Kenner, executive producer for illusionist David Copperfield, was on the witness stand all day Tuesday, April 17. Kenner testified that a business manager for the show talked to the man after he fell. Kenner testified that the tourist, Gavin Cox, said he was OK moments after the fall. Cox later told the crew: “Maybe I will have this looked at.” Copperfield is the next witness in line for Cox’s attorneys. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
CCSD Teacher Is a Living Organ Donor
June Monroe speaks about her kidney donation to her brother and advocacy work with the National Kidney Foundation.
Shadow Ridge High School teachers protest
Shadow Ridge High School teachers protest. Teachers are upset over many things, including the fact that the district is fighting an arbitration ruling for pay raises. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Clark County commissioners debate getting rid of Henderson, North Las Vegas constables
Clark County commissioners are debating whether to get rid of the Henderson and North Las Vegas constables after RJ's story pointing out questionable spending by the Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
1 Dead, 7 Injured After Southwest Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing
1 Dead, 7 Injured After Southwest Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing Dallas-bound Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 out of New York, which had 143 passengers and a crew of five onboard, landed in Philadelphia on Tuesday. According to NBC10, a female passenger was partially sucked out of a broken window, which was a result of the plane's engine ripping apart. It's not known if the female passenger was the one who died. Emergency personnel met the battered plane upon its landing. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the blown engine resulted in a smashed window and a damaged fuselage. Southwest Airlines The FAA said that the NTSB will lead the investigation into what happened.
Single vehicle crash kills man
A man died Tuesday morning in a single-vehicle crash in northeast Las Vegas. The crash occurred Tuesday morning on the 1900 block of Pasadena Boulevard, near Lake Mead Boulevard and Mt. Hood Street. Police had few details, but Metro's fatal detail was on the scene investigating.
Sunset Park Homicide (update 2)
LVMPD gives update about suspect in homicide at Sunset Park (Blake Apgar)
Sunset Park Homicide (update)
Update from LVMPD on Sunset Park homicide. Releasing suspect's name (Blake Apgar)
Sunset Park Homicide
Police give details about Sunset Park homicide on Sunday, April 15, 2018. (Blake Apgar)
Parents of autistic child talk about their experience waiting for care
Parents of autistic child talk about their experience waiting for care. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Donald Trump Calls Out James Comey After Book Details Emerge
Donald Trump Calls Out James Comey After Book Details Emerge The President took to Twitter to criticize the former FBI director as information emerges from Comey’s new book, ‘A Higher Loyalty’. According to 'The New York Times', Comey describes Trump in the book as “unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values.” James Comey, A Higher Loyalty, via The New York Times A Higher Loyalty hits stores on April 17.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
Endangered Devils Hole Pupfish numbers enough for concern, but not panic
Researchers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Death Valley National Park came together at Devils Hole, about 90 miles west of Las Vegas, for a biannual count of the Devils Hole Pupfish, an endangered species. Their count this time – 87. (Video by Patrick Connolly)
Hickey Elementary Students Put Harry Potter on Trial
Liliam Lujan Hickey Elementary School students learned how the judicial system works by putting Harry Potter on trial for the illegal use of magic.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
The Clark County Museum Turns 50 This Month
The Clark County Museum has an extensive collection, dating back to prehistoric times in Southern Nevada up through the present day. It was first established in April 1968 and has had several locations before it's current home on South Boulder Highway.
Route 91 Artifacts Will Be On Display This October
Clark County Museum Administrator Mark Hall-Patton explains what artifacts will be on display in October as part of the museums Route 91 shooting memorial exhibit called "How We Mourned."
Bullet grazes woman's head
Las Vegas police investigating calls of a shooting early Friday morning found a woman who suffered a wound to her head. A bullet grazed the woman's head while she was inside her Village Square apartment on Nellis Oasis Lane. She did not have to be hospitalized, and police said she might have been an "unintended" victim. The shooting occurred around 4 a.m. Police are looking for the shooter.
Aces Host Draft Party
The Las Vegas Aces host a WNBA draft party at the Mandalay Bay for season-ticket holders, and have the number one overall pick.
Las Vegas man stands with president at White House
President Donald Trump delivered remarks in the Rose Garden Thursday about how the GOP tax cut plan helped working families across the country. To his left stood Richard Kerzetski, president of Universal Plumbing & Heating Co. in Las Vegas. Debra J. Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Transgender Man Running for Assembly District 42
U.S. Army veteran La Don Henry is hoping to become Nevada’s first openly transgender state legislator.
Erik Weihenmayer is the First Blind Person to Summit Mount Everest
Erik Weihenmayer talks about how he first got into mountaineering in 1995 with the ascent of Denali, the tallest peak in North America, and what he loves about climbing.
New Theater Coming to Neonopolis
Ken Henderson explains his concept for Notoriety, a 57,000-square-foot theater complex on the third floor of Neonopolis intended to host comedy, music and theater acts.
Politicians, Tenants Come Together at Neonopolis
Neonopolis Owner Rohit Joshi explains the concept behind the Nevada Business Forum, which brings Neonopolis tenants and politicans together once a month to discuss issues that are important to them.
Life
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like