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    Review: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Altitude


    • 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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    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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    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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      Verdict:
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      But when you drop the tops in both models, you forget all about the issues. Instead, you begin to take in the sky and rush of the wind. This makes you remember why you bought a convertible, to enjoy the feeling of openness. It is only when you put the top back up that makes you wonder if you can live with the issues. In the case of the Cascada, the answer is no. The Camaro is a maybe.
       
       
      Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the Cascada and Camaro; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Buick
      Model: Cascada
      Trim: Premium
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L SIDI DOHC with VVT
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 200 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 207 @ 1,800 - 4,500, 221 @ 2,200 - 4,000 (with overboost)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/27/23
      Curb Weight: 3,979 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gliwice, Poland
      Base Price: $36,065
      As Tested Price: $37,385 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
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      Year: 2016
      Make: Chevrolet
      Model: Camaro Convertible
      Trim: SS
      Engine: 6.2L VVT DI V8
      Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 455 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 455 @ 4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/28/20
      Curb Weight: 3,966 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lansing, MI
      Base Price: $48,300
      As Tested Price: $54,075 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
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    • By William Maley
      Summertime means something different for everyone. For some, it’s time to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. For others, it is the time to take that trip you have been thinking about for awhile. If you’re an automotive writer like myself, summertime means convertible season. The feeling of having the roof down and enjoying the expanded view of the sky is something quite special. This summer saw two of GM’s latest convertibles roll into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit garage, the new Buick Cascada and recently redesigned Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible. How did these two droptops fare in the summer heat?
      Exterior:
      There is no denying the Opel/Vauxhall roots of the Buick Cascada as it is just basically the Cascada sold in Europe with Buick basing. But that isn’t a bad thing since the Cascada is handsome for the most part. The front features a new grille design and headlights with LED accents. The side profile reveals short overhangs for the front and rear. These overhangs make the side look somewhat oddly proportioned. A set 20-inch wheels come standard. Around back, a long chrome bar runs along the trunk lid into the taillights. 
      On the opposite end is the Chevrolet Camaro. If you’re looking for something quiet and doesn’t bring attention, then maybe you should pass on it. Redesigned last year, Chevrolet retained the Camaro’s basic profile with its sharp lines and rounded corners. But major work was done on the front and rear ends. The front features a narrow top grille and slim headlights. A massive grille sits underneath between a set of deep cuts into the front bumper. The back has been cleaned up with a new trunk lid design, rectangular headlights, and quad-exhaust tips. 
      One item both the Cascada and Camaro share is a fabric top. Putting the top down or up takes under 20 seconds for both vehicles. With the tops down, both vehicles look quite good. But put the tops up and the Cascada is the better looking of the two. I can’t put my finger as to why, but I think it deals with how the Cascada has a little bit more glass than the Camaro. 
      Interior:
      Unfortunately, both the Cascada and Camaro fall on their face when it comes to the interior for different reasons.
      In the case of the Cascada, it features the dash from the outgoing Verano and Encore. This reveals that the Cascada is older despite what Buick may have you think. For example, the center stack is laden with buttons and it will take you a few moments to find the specific one you’re looking for. Not helping is the Cascada using GM’s last-generation infotainment system. While the system is easy to use, the interface is looking very dated. It would have been nice if Buick could have slipped in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascade, but that would have likely introduced more problems than solutions.
      On the upside, the Cascada’s interior is well-built and features decent quality materials. A fair amount of dash and door panels feature some soft touch material. The front seats are comfortable for short and long distance trips. Power adjustments for the driver’s seat make it easy to find a position that works. One touch Buick deserves applause for is the seat belt presenter. The front seat belts are nestled away when the Cascada is turned off to make it easier to get in and out of the back seat. But when you start it up, the presenter extends for both the driver and passenger to buckle in. The back seat provides enough space for kids or small adults. Taller folks like myself will find minimal legroom. With the top up, anyone sitting back here will feel very confined. With the top down, this feeling goes away. 
      Step into the 2016 Camaro Convertible’s interior and you’ll find the same retro ideas from the previous model such as the shape of the dash and circular vents. But Chevrolet improved the overall usability of the Camaro’s interior. For example, the retro-inspired engine information gauges that were placed ahead of the shifter in the previous generation are gone. In its place are a set of air vents that also control the temperature of the climate control system. 
      Our tester featured the optional Chevrolet MyLink system with navigation. We know we’re beating a dead horse with our complaints with MyLink such as a slow response when going from various screens and recognizing devices plugged into the USB ports. But you would think that GM would maybe issue an update or something by now to fix some of these issues? Like other Chevrolet models we have driven this year, the Camaro’s MyLink system comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We tried CarPlay and found it to be easier to use than most automaker’s infotainment systems. But, we had issues with apps crashing and the system not always recognizing our phone.
      The front bucket seats are quite comfortable and will hold you in if you decide to tackle that special road aggressively. A set of power adjustments makes it easy for anyone to find a comfortable position. The back seat is best reserved for small kids or extra storage as legroom is nonexistent. You would think that the Camaro Convertible wouldn’t feel as claustrophobic as the coupe since you can put the top down, but it isn’t. Sitting in the Camaro convertible with the top down, I felt like I was being contained in a small box. Blame the high belt line for this.
      Powertrain:
      Power for the Buick Cascada comes from a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. The figures are impressive for this engine. But drop it into the Cascada and it is quite disappointing. Performance is very lethargic as the engine has to overcome the nearly two tons of Cascada. It feels like an eternity getting up to speed and you’ll find yourself putting the pedal to the floor to get the vehicle moving at a sufficient rate. EPA figures for the Cascada stand at 20 City/27 Highway/23 Combined. My average for the week landed at 21 mpg. 
      The Camaro’s engine lineup includes a 3.6L V6, turbocharged 2.0L four, and our SS tester’s 6.2L V8. The V8 pumps out 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. We had the optional eight-speed automatic, but you can get a six-speed manual. The V8 makes the Camaro Convertible stupidly fun. I found myself wanting to roll down the window at a stop light to tell the vehicle next to me “let me play you the song of my people” before stomping on the accelerator and having the V8 roar into life as the light turns green. The engine will pin you in your seat if you floor it and there is a never-ending stream of power throughout the rev range. A nice touch is the optional dual-mode exhaust system that only amplifies the noises of the V8. The eight-speed automatic is ofine around town and on the highway but stumbles somewhat in enthusiastic driving where it takes a moment to downshift when slowing down. Fuel economy for the Camaro SS Convertible stands at 17 City/28 Highway/20 Combined. I got about 19 mpg during my week-long test.
      Ride & Handling:
      Describing the ride and handling characteristics of the Cascada can be summed up in one word; smooth. Buick’s engineers tuned the Cascada’s suspension to deliver an almost magic carpet ride. Even with a set of twenty-inch wheels as standard equipment, the Cascada is able to deal with rough roads with no issues. Around corners, the Cascada feels planted and body roll is kept in check. But don’t plan on doing anything enthusiastic with it. The steering is a little bit too light for it. Drive it like a relaxed cruiser and you’ll enjoy it. Wind buffeting is minimal with either the windows rolled up or down.
      The Camaro Convertible is shocking as to how well it handles. Part of this comes down to optional Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) system which limits body roll. Chevrolet engineers also worked on improving the structural rigidity of the Camaro. The combination makes the convertible just as good as the coupe in corners. Direction change is fast and there is plenty of grip coming from the meaty tires. Where the Camaro Convertible falters is the ride quality. The SS comes with a set of twenty-inch wheels. While they do look sharp, it makes for a somewhat unbearable ride. Bumps of any size are clearly transmitted to those sitting inside. MRC does its best to provide a comfortable ride, but it might be worth considering going down to a smaller wheel to improve the ride. Wind buffeting is kept in check with the windows up or down.
      Price:
      The 2016 Buick Cascada starts at $33,065 for the base model. Our up-level Premium starts at $36,065 and comes to an as-tested price of $37,385 thanks to the vehicle being finished in an optional blue color. You really don’t get much in terms of additional features when compared to the base Cascada aside from some additional safety features - front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, and forward collision alert - and automatic wipers. Also for that amount of cash, you could with the Audi A3 cabriolet which offers a slightly more premium interior. But you would lose out on the larger back seat of the Cascada. You would be better off with the base Cascada.
      If you have your heart set on a Camaro Convertible, be ready to shell out the cash. The 2016 Camaro 2SS Convertible carries a base sticker of $48,300 - $6,005 more expensive than the coupe. Add on the list of options fitted to our tester such as the eight-speed automatic, magnetic ride control, and dual-mode exhaust system and you’ll end up with an as-tested price of $54,075. I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up from the floor due to the price shock. The Camaro is nice car all-around, but is it really worth dropping $54,000?! We’re not so sure. 
      Verdict:
      Both of vehicles have issues that don’t make them as appealing. The Cascada’s engine either needs to be kicked to the curb or head off to the gym to get a bit more power. It would nice if Buick could also figure how to put in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascada, although that might prove to be an engineering nightmare and something that would be better suited for the next-generation model. The Camaro Convertible’s price tag will make a number of people and their bank accounts cry. Also for being a convertible, the Camaro still feels as claustrophobic as the coupe.
      But when you drop the tops in both models, you forget all about the issues. Instead, you begin to take in the sky and rush of the wind. This makes you remember why you bought a convertible, to enjoy the feeling of openness. It is only when you put the top back up that makes you wonder if you can live with the issues. In the case of the Cascada, the answer is no. The Camaro is a maybe.
       
       
      Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the Cascada and Camaro; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Buick
      Model: Cascada
      Trim: Premium
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L SIDI DOHC with VVT
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 200 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 207 @ 1,800 - 4,500, 221 @ 2,200 - 4,000 (with overboost)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/27/23
      Curb Weight: 3,979 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gliwice, Poland
      Base Price: $36,065
      As Tested Price: $37,385 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Deep Sky Metallic - $395.00
      Year: 2016
      Make: Chevrolet
      Model: Camaro Convertible
      Trim: SS
      Engine: 6.2L VVT DI V8
      Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 455 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 455 @ 4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/28/20
      Curb Weight: 3,966 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lansing, MI
      Base Price: $48,300
      As Tested Price: $54,075 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Magnetic Ride Control - $1,695.00
      Eight-Speed Automatic - $1,495.00
      Dual-Mode Exhaust - $895.00
      Chevrolet MyLink with Navigation - $495.00
      20" 5-Split Spoke Aluminum Wheels - $200.00
    • By William Maley
      Three years might not seem like a long time. But in the automotive industry, it is an eternity. In that short amount time, a vehicle may be surpassed by competitors and sales may take a dive. Take for example the Nissan Altima. When the redesigned model was launched back in 2013, it was considered to be above-average and some key advantages over rivals. But time has passed and the Altima has been surpassed in a number of key areas by refreshed/redesigned competitors. Nissan knew they needed to do something to get the Altima back in contention. Last year, they introduced a refreshed Altima that would hopefully give them a fighting chance in the class. Let's see if it does.
      If you were expecting some big changes to the Altima’s exterior in this mid-cycle refresh, then you’ll be disappointed. The front end features a new V-shaped grille and revised headlights to bring the model in line with the current Nissan design language. Updated taillights and new wheel choices finish off the changes. The interior is mostly left alone in this refresh aside from some new choices of trim pieces. That isn’t a bad thing as the Altima’s interior is a nice place to be in with ample space for passengers, a fair amount of soft-touch materials used throughout, and a simple dash layout. 
      One item we do wish Nissan would have addressed in this refresh is the NissanConnect infotainment system. All Altimas come with a five-inch touchscreen as standard, while our SL tester featured the optional seven-inch screen. This system has a number of issues ranging from an interface that makes it look older than it really is to the system crashing our iPod on a regular basis. More worrying was the system crashing and rebooting twice during our week-long test. It would be nice for Nissan to take the system out of the Maxima and Murano and put it into the rest of their lineup as it doesn’t have the issues listed here.
      Under the hood of the Altima are the same engines that have powered it since 2013. Our Altima SL tester came with the standard 2.5L four-cylinder with 183 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Optional is a 3.5L V6 with 270 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. No matter which engine you pick, a Xtronic CVT routes the power to the front wheels. The 2.5 does quite well around town as the engine gets up to speed at a decent rate. Getting onto the highway is another story as you’ll need to almost floor the gas pedal to get up to speed at a somewhat decent rate. This also brings forth an abundance of engine noise, something we complained about in our 2014 Nissan Altima SL review. At least the Xtronic CVT is responsive when you step on the accelerator and the illusion of the stepped gears can make most buyers believe they’re driving an automatic.
      The EPA rates the Altima’s fuel economy at 27 City/39 Highway/31 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 31.7 MPG.
      The Altima’s ride and handling characteristics are in the middle. The suspension does a decent job of soaking up most bumps, but some larger ones will make their way inside. The recently redesigned Chevrolet Malibu and Volkswagen Passat do a better job in this regard. In the bends, the Altima feels composed and shows little body roll. But the steering is way too light and doesn’t offer enough feel to feel sporty. If you want that, a Mazda6 or Ford Fusion should be on the list.
      How do you sum up the 2016 Nissan Altima? It is a competent midsize sedan. But competent isn’t a strong selling point to a midsize sedan as you can apply to any model in the class. What you need is something that makes your model stand out whether in terms of design or features. The Altima doesn’t have anything like that.
      Picking the Altima may be the safe choice, but it be might a choice you regret.
      Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Altima, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Nissan
      Model: Altima
      Trim: 2.5 SL
      Engine: 2.5L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Xtronic CVT
      Horsepower @ RPM: 182 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 180 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/39/31
      Curb Weight: 3,254 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Smyrna, TN
      Base Price: $28,570
      As Tested Price: $32,115 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Technology Package - $1,700
      Moonroof Package - $800.00
      Carpeted Floormats and Trunk Mat - $210.00

      View full article
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