Most of us remember the old Jeep Cherokee as a utilitarian box of off-road prowess that shuttled plenty of hunters and backpackers safely into the back country. The Cherokee was as utilitarian as an SUV could be, and almost as ugly. Well, some called it ugly, while others appreciated the basic simplicity of what the Cherokee represented.
So when rumors flew that the Cherokee name would return as the Liberty retired, it was natural to wonder if the boxy retro goodness would come back, too.
Rest assured, these images of the Cherokee are official and were released by Chrysler this weekend. While some of you may stare in disbelief, maybe thinking this is a Chinese Jeep knockoff, you can be sure this is real and choose to either celebrate or lament Jeep’s new direction.
Car design is a funny thing. Had Jeep released images of a modern take on the original Cherokee design, it would have been lambasted for a lack of creativity and modern thinking. By taking a leap in design, the company risks alienating its brand base and taking ridicule from both buyers and the media.
I choose to celebrate, though, as Jeep’s Italian influence makes its first real impact on the American icon. Obviously the biggest changes, as far as I can tell from the pictures, are the folded 7-slot grille and the split headlights. This isn’t just an evolution of Jeep design, it’s a bold step to revolutionize the trademarks that have defined the brand for decades.
There has been no talk yet of powertrain or pricing, but the Cherokee will likely share the Alfa Romeo-derived platform also shared with the Dodge Dart. That means we can assume the small crossover will have front- and all-wheel drive variants and 4-cylinder power.
The new Cherokee will be built in Ohio and will also be more than 45 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor. I sense a winner.
Should the Jeep Grand Cherokee adapt the same style as this new Cherokee?