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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Altitude

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      Classic Nameplate, Reborn

    Drastic changes are hard for a lot of us. Whether it's moving to a new state or country, the arrival of new family member, the prospect of a new job, etc: we wonder if this change will be good or bad for us. The same is true for any automaker. If they have a vehicle that is doing very well in sales and/or reputation, or are planning to resurrect an iconic nameplate, they know that a huge change could make or break the vehicle.

    Consider the Jeep Cherokee. The off-road brand built the Cherokee from 1977 to 2001, earning a reputation for being a rough and go-anywhere SUV. When news broke that Jeep would be bringing back the Cherokee nameplate, many Jeep fanatics were excited. Many of those fanatics cut their teeth on the Cherokee and were hoping for a return of the rough and ready SUV they loved. Sadly that wouldn’t be case when Jeep revealed the new Cherokee and it didn’t look or drive like the vehicle they knew. This led to many complaining about how the new Cherokee wasn’t like the old one and Jeep should be ashamed.

    But lets step back and look at this new Cherokee. Did Jeep make a critical mistake or is the new Cherokee a reflection of a marketplace that has changed?

    Let’s be blunt about the new Cherokee’s styling. It’s very polarizing to say in the least. The overall look appears to have been the result of one team doing the front, while another team handled the back. The front end has a rounded shape with three different pods for lights - from top to bottom: LED running lamps, headlamps and fog lamps - and the iconic seven slot grille donning a black coating on the Altitude model. The back end is slightly rounded as well, with the taillights sitting on the farthest points of the tailgate. Finishing off the Cherokee is a set of blacked-out eighteen-inch wheels. In pictures, the Cherokee may look like a bit of a hot mess. But in person, I actually found the Cherokee to be good looking, and appreciated that Jeep decided to go a different route with the styling.

    The Cherokee’s interior is nothing like the exterior, which for some is a good thing. The dash layout is conventional, with a conservative design and logical placement of the controls. Material quality is noticeably improved from the outgoing Liberty with wide swaths of soft-touch plastic around the interior, and high-quality cloth wrapping the seats. Nothing in the Cherokee’s interior made me think, ‘well they went a bit cheap here.’ Interior space is also very impressive with back seat passengers getting a pleasant amount of head and legroom. Cargo space is decent with 24.6 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 54.9 cubic feet with the seats folded.

    2014 Jeep Cherokee Altitude 13

    The Cherokee Altitude comes standard with a 5-inch UConnect infotainment system, but my tester came with the optional 8.4-inch UConnect system. This system is one of the easiest and most responsive infotainment systems I have ever come across. One item I should mention with this version of UConnect for Cherokee is that there is no navigation standard. For that, you’ll need to head over to your local Jeep dealer to have it installed. At first, I was a bit upset at there being no navigation. But after a few moments, I appreciated Chrysler’s decision. More people are turning to their smartphones to provide navigation, or just don’t want to spend the money on navigation.

    The Cherokee comes with the choice of two different engines. The base is the 2.4L MultiAir four-cylinder, while a 3.2L V6 is optional. The Cherokee Altitude I had came equipped with the base four-cylinder which makes 184 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. Either engine comes paired up with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Being a Jeep, you have the choice of three different four-wheel drive systems. My tester was equipped with the base Jeep Drive I system.

    2014 Jeep Cherokee Altitude 10

    The 2.4L provides decent power for any situation that could be thrown at it. Whether it was driving in city traffic or merging onto the highway, the 2.4 never felt lacking for power. The 2.4 also doesn’t lack engine noise either. Leaving a stop, the engine is keen on letting you know that it's working. When you settle into a cruise, the engine settles down to a murmur. The nine-speed has been quite the headache for Chrysler, as it caused the Cherokee launch to be delayed for several months due to a number of problems. Unfortunately, Chrysler still has a few more kinks to iron out with it. To start, the transmission would shudder when upshifting through the first three gears. The other was the transmission wouldn’t go into ninth gear when driving on the freeway. I would have to shift into ninth manually. Now since I drove the Cherokee, Chrysler has issued an update to the nine-speed to fix some of these problems. I’m hoping in the near future to get behind the wheel of another Cherokee to see if it's made a difference.

    One item I sadly didn’t get chance to try was how the Cherokee drove off the beaten path. I hope to rectify that the next time I get a Cherokee.

    Fuel economy-wise, the Cherokee Altitude 4X4 is rated by the EPA at 21 City/28 Highway/24 Combined. My week with the Cherokee saw an average of 23.1 MPG.

    The Cherokee Altitude’s ride and drive characteristics is very much in line with other compact crossovers.The suspension is comprised of MacPherson strut setup up front and a four-link setup in the rear which provides a very comfortable ride on even some of the roughest roads the Metro Detroit area has to offer. Steering is nicely weighted and features good on-center feel.

    To go back to the question asked at the beginning of this review, I don’t think Jeep made a mistake with the new Cherokee. Sadly, the time when a boxy, go-anywhere SUV has passed. Jeep realized this and built the Cherokee accordingly, but made sure it still had a bit of Jeep DNA in it. For the most part, I have to say I’m very impressed with the Cherokee. But there is the elephant in the room and that happens to be the nine-speed transmission. I like the idea, but the execution leaves a bit to be desired. For now, I’m going to put the Cherokee on the wait and see list.

    Disclaimer: Jeep Provided the Cherokee Altitude, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2014

    Make: Jeep

    Model: Cherokee

    Trim: Altitude 4X4

    Engine: 2.4L MultiAir 16-Valve Inline-Four

    Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 6,400

    Torque @ RPM: 171 @ 4,600

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/28/24

    Curb Weight: 3,941 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Toledo, Ohio

    Base Price: $26,495

    As Tested Price: $30,485 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Comfort/Convenience Group - $1,995

    Customer Preferred Package 24K - $500.00

    Uconnect 8.4A AM/FM/BT/Access - $500.00

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Love the write up, Good to know about the Transmission. Hopefully they smooth this out and get it fixed before it gets too bad of a rep.

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    I really like these. I've driven them multiple times.  I wonder if there is something slightly different internally with the 9-speed when it is mated to the V6 instead of the I4.... or maybe it is calibrated differently.   I've only ever had the shuddering William describes when driving the I4. The V6 is nice and smooth. 

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    I would be willing to own a 2015 Cherokee Latitude in Eco Green with the Off-Road suspension and the 3.2L V6.  Parked side by side on a dealer's lot. you can see the height difference between base suspension and Off-Road (I am not talking about the Trailhawk, which is cool too, if a bit pricy for moi.)  Only I'd have to have the black version of the wheels.  I think they'd set a green Cherokee off very nicely.

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    Like the Focus, the trans here has me staying away from an otherwise nice car...

     

    They do look better in person though....

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    I love this car. My friend has one and enjoys it. Thanks for the review write up, I'll definitely be looking over this car in greater detail. 

     

    Your review looks to be quite in-depth, I like that.

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      A set of sport seats with increased bolstering and power adjustments come standard on the A-Spec. I found them to be quite comfortable for any trip length and were able to hold me if I decided to be a bit enthusiastic. Back seat passengers will be plenty comfortable with an abundance of head and legroom. I would have like to see the back seat be able to slide forward and back to offer more comfort. Cargo space is towards the top of the class with 29.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 58.9 when folded. There’s also a little storage nook under the cargo floor to stash valuables.
      Intuitive Infotainment?
      Acura’s previous infotainment system drew a lot of ire from people. The dual-screen layout was confusing as some functions were split between the two screens such as changing the audio input. Not helping was the two different control methods for this setup; touchscreen for the bottom portion and a controller for the top screen. Thankfully, Acura has introduced a new infotainment system for the RDX. A large 10.2-inch screen sits on top of the dash and is controlled by a touchpad on the center console. Seeing the touchpad for the first time sent chills down my spine as I thought back to my frustrating experiences with Lexus’ Touchpad Controller. But Acura says this controller is much easier and logical to use than competitors. Okay, challenge accepted.
      Acura’s touchpad controller is slightly different from Lexus’ setup as it is mapped to the screen. So if you want to access the navigation, you tap that part of the pad that corresponds to the screen. This removes the dragging of the finger across the touchpad to get it to the selection you want. This seems quite logical on paper, but I found to be somewhat frustrating. It took me a few days to mind-meld with the system as I was still used to dragging my finger across the touchpad to select various functions. This made simple tasks such as changing presets or moving around in Apple CarPlay very tough.
      There is also a smaller touchpad that controls a small section of the screen. This allows you to scroll through three menus - audio, navigation, and clock. This would prove to be the most frustrating aspect of this system as it didn’t always recognize whenever I scroll down on the touchpad to move to another screen.
      Thankfully, Acura has left a number of physical controls for the audio and climate systems. I’m glad that some luxury automakers aren’t falling into the trap.
      Powertrain Goes Back To Its Roots
      The RDX has always found itself with a different powertrain throughout its various generations. The first version used a turbo-four engine, while the second-generation moved to a V6. For the third-generation, Acura went back to the RDX’s roots and settled on another turbo-four engine. The 2.0L engine punches out 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a 10-speed automatic and either front or my tester’s Super-Handling all-wheel drive system.
      The turbo-four is quite a potent engine with little turbo lag when leaving a stop and a seemingly endless amount of power for any situation. The ten-speed automatic is very smooth and quick when upshifting. But it does stumble somewhat when you need a quick shot of speed. 
      I did notice that the 2.0L turbo isn’t a quiet engine when traveling on the expressway, going above 2,000 rpm when traveling at 70 mph. This may explain the slightly disappointing 21.7 mpg average I got during the week. EPA fuel economy figures for the A-Spec SH-AWD are 21 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. The standard RDX models see a small bump in their EPA fuel economy figures.
      Capable Driver
      Acura is no stranger to building a crossover that is good to drive, the larger MDX crossover is a prime example. But the RDX A-Spec takes that a step further. This version gets a slightly stiffer suspension setup which negates a fair amount of body roll on a winding road. The steering firms up nicely when pushed through corners. When going through the daily grind, the RDX A-Spec will let in a few more bumps and road imperfections due to its suspension tuning. Road and wind noise are kept to very minimal levels.
      Welcome Back Acura
      The 2020 RDX shows that Acura is starting to figure out what it wants to be; a brand that offers something playful in the class. The RDX certainly has the qualities with a bold exterior, punchy turbo-four, and a surprising chassis that offers sporty handling and a mostly-comfortable ride. The slightly-confounding infotainment system and poor fuel economy figures do sour it a bit. But the RDX is a very compelling alternative to many compact luxury crossovers.
      It does give me hope that Acura is figuring out who it wants to be and excited to see what comes down the road such as the new TLX.
      How I Would Configure An RDX: For me, I would basically take the exact RDX tester seen here. That will set me back $47,195 after adding destination and $400.00 paint option. Everyone else should look at the Technology package that will get you most of the safety equipment that is part of Acurawatch, along with a 12-speaker ELS audio system, navigation, and parking sensors. It will not break the bank at $41,000 for FWD or $43,000 for AWD.
      Disclaimer: Acura Provided the RDX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Acura
      Model: RDX
      Trim: A-Spec
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve VTEC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: 10-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 272 @ 6,500
      Torque @ RPM: 280 @ 1,600 - 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/26/23
      Curb Weight: 4,015 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: East Liberty, Ohio
      Base Price: $45,800
      As Tested Price: $47,195 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Exterior Color - $400.00
    • By William Maley
      Rarely, do I get the chance to drive different versions of the same model. The fleet companies I work with scheduling vehicles do their best to serve up a smorgasbord of vehicles for me to experience. But from time to time, things happen where one vehicle in a run has to be swapped because it needs to go home or is required for an important event. It happened to be that the stars aligned in such a way that two Volvo 60 series models would be swapped for various vehicles in this go around. So I found myself with an S60 Momentum one week and a V60 Cross Country another week.
      A prime opportunity to experience two different takes on the same model.
      Design: Same and Different
      Both of the 60 models continue Volvo’s design of simple elegance. The smooth boxy shape is contrasted by the “Thor’s Hammer” lighting element in the headlights and a sloping beltline along the side. Compared to the larger S90, the S60 looks cleaner. This can be attributed to the rear where the license plate has been moved from the bumper to the trunk and a raised lip on the trunk lid. The optional 19-inch wheels fitted on my tester look somewhat out of place as it removes some of the understated look the sedan is trying to present.
      The V60 Cross Country certainly looks the part of an off-road wagon with a three-inch lift to the suspension, body cladding along the side, different grille color, and new wheel choices. Around back, Volvo takes some ideas from their crossovers with the tailgate being similar in design to XC40 and XC60, and the tall L-shaped headlights. Out of the two, I found myself liking the V60 Cross Country more than the S60.
      Inside Story
      The simple elegance philosophy continues inside for both the S60 and V60. The dash features a simplistic design with clean lines and minimal brightwork. Both vehicles feature some surprising interior touches such as wood trim and machined metal pieces. The S60 does falter slightly as some interior pieces are hard plastics with some texturing. This is due to the S60 being the base Momentum trim, higher trims swap this for soft-touch material.
      Both the S60 and V60 feature front seats that provide an excellent balance of support and comfort. Ten-way power adjustments allow any person to find a setting that fits them. I also like both models coming with the optional power thigh extender to make long drives more bearable. Rear seat space is a mixed bag as there is plenty of legroom in both models, but headroom is constrained in the S60 due to the sloping roofline. 
      In terms of cargo, the V60 Cross Country is the champ. Open the power liftgate and you’re greeted with 23.2 cubic feet. This can be expanded to 50.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. The S60 trunk space is slightly disappointing, only offering 11.6 cubic feet. At least the rear seats can be folded down to increase load capacity.
      Non-Sensus-ical Infotainment
      All S60 and V60s come with a nine-inch screen featuring Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. A large screen oriented like a tablet to control most of the functions fits in line with the company’s minimalist approach. But using this system becomes quite infuriating. To start, Sensus takes over a minute to boot up whenever the vehicle is started. You’ll be able to tell since the system will not respond or respond slowly whenever an input is made during this. Thankfully, the system responds quickly once it fully boots up. This brings us to another problem with Sensus, its confounding menu system. Trying to do something simple such as increase fan speed or turn on/off a safety system means swiping into various screens and menus to find that button or slider.
      Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard and does make Sensus slightly easier to use. But I think some real improvements will come when the next version of Sensus comes out that will be based on Google’s Android platform. I’m also hoping for some more redundant controls such as a fan knob or temperature buttons.
      When Five equals Four
       
      Both models come equipped with the T5 engine. Before you start thinking that this means a turbocharged five-cylinder, T5 in current Volvos means a turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission choice. Opting for the T5 on the S60 means you only get front-wheel drive - you’ll need to step to the twin-charged T6 or PHEV T8 for all-wheel drive. As for the Cross Country, it gets all-wheel drive as standard. 
      The T5 is a very potent engine as I found in my review of the XC40 last year and that still holds true for both 60 series models. No matter the situation such as needing to pass a slower truck or leave a stoplight, the turbo-four is eager to move the vehicle at an astonishing rate. The eight-speed automatic is smooth and delivers prompt shifts.
      On the Cross Country, Volvo has an Off-Road mode that turns on a low-speed function, hill descent control, and optimizes the steering to keep the vehicle moving through whatever muck. For most buyers, this mode will never be touched at all. But I found it to be very handy driving through unplowed roads.
      EPA fuel economy figures stand at 23 City/34 Highway/27 Combined for the S60 and 22/31/25 for the V60 Cross Country. I got an average of 24.7 for the S60 and 23.1 in the Cross Country on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving.
      A Smooth Ride Is Here, Provided You Have the Right Wheels
       
      As I mentioned earlier, the S60 I had came with a set of optional 19-inch wheels. This introduces a problem as the ride feels choppy. Over various bumps and imperfections, the S60 wasn’t able to smooth over a fair number of them. I assume going with the standard 18-inch wheels solves this issue somewhat, although some people report the ride is still rough on the smaller wheels. The V60 Cross Country also has a set of 19-inch wheels, but it is noticeably smoother over rough surfaces. Credit must be given to the higher ride height and softer suspension tuning. Wind and road noise are almost non-existent, making both perfect long-distance travelers.
      Handling is where the S60 redeems itself somewhat. The sedan shows little body and impressive grip when driven through a winding road. I do wish the steering had a little bit more weight, but that may be solved by moving to the R-Design or Polestar models. The Cross Country is a vehicle you want to push due to its softer suspension tuning.
      Two Good Models, But One Stands Tall
      The new 60 models are worthy successors to the models before it. An elegant design and mostly roomy interior pair nicely with the strong performance from the T5 engine. Sensus is the biggest stumbling block for both models, but a new version is around the corner which may solve some of the issues.
      Between the two, I found myself being more impressed with the V60 Cross Country. It has more character in its design compared to the S60 and the ride is much more comfortable. The almost $57,000 price-tag is a bit much, but with some smart optioning, you can make it much more reasonable. As for the S60, I did find it to be quite a decent steer. But the ride does need some work when on the larger wheels. Also, the Momentum can get quite expensive if you go overboard with options. My tester carried a nearly $46,000 price tag, three-grand more than the T5 versions of the R-Design and Inscription which come with some of the optional features as standard.
      The S60 and V60 Cross Country are excellent alternatives to the usual suspects, just be careful on the options.
      How I would configure them:
      There are two different ways I would go configuring an S60.
      Value: Start with the Momentum T5 at $36,050 and add Heated Front Seats & Steering Wheel ($750) and Premium Package ($2,050) to end up with a nicely equipped S60 at $39,845. You will miss out on some items such as the 360’ camera system, pilot assist, and Harman Kardon audio system, but that pushes the price to over $44,000. Sport: An R-Design T6 fits the bill here and comes with all-wheel drive as standard for a price of $48,045. Decide which metallic paint you would like ($645) or stick with the basic black. Add on the Advanced Package and Heated Rear Seats and Steering Wheel to end up with a final price tag of $51,645 for black or $52,290 for any of the metallic colors. For the V60 Cross Country, it would be similar to my test vehicle with most of the option packages and adding the Harman Kardon Premium Sound system ($800) to bring the final price to $52,795.
      Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the S60 and V60; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Volvo
      Model: S60
      Trim: T5 Momentum
      Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/34/27
      Curb Weight: 3,657 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ridgeville, SC 
      Base Price: $36,050
      As Tested Price: $46,249 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Advanced Package - $2,500.00
      Premium Package - $2,050.00
      Multimedia Package - $1,850.00
      19" 5-Spoke Cut Wheels - $800.00
      Heated Front Seats & Heated Steering Wheel Package - $750.00
      Pebble Grey Metallic - $645.00
      Linear Lime Deco Inlay and Interior High Level Illumination - $600.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Volvo
      Model: V60
      Trim: Cross Country
      Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25
      Curb Weight: 4,202 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden
      Base Price: $45,100
      As Tested Price: $56,990 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound - $4,000.00
      Cross Country Pro Package - $2,800.00
      Advanced Package - $2,500.00
      Heated Front Seats & Heated Steering Wheel Package - $750.00
      Birch Light Metallic - $645.00
      Park Assist Pilot - $200.00

      View full article
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