Some will say Jeep has gone soft.
The original Cherokee, the more refined but still muscular Grand Cherokee, and the go-anywhere Wrangler have kept the Jeep brand name the only one on the shopping lists of America-loving off-road purists.
Owning a Jeep meant getting it dirty on the weekends, then proudly driving it to work on Monday still caked in dried mud. Somewhere along the line, owning a Jeep turned into taking it to family BBQs then driving it to work covered in nothing more than water spots from an over-spraying lawn sprinkler.
When Jeep announced the coming revival of the Cherokee name, enthusiasts clamored at the gates, hoping for a throwback to the boxy and capable greatness of yore.
What they got was, well, the new Cherokee.
Obviously the new design is like nothing ever seen before on a Jeep. I happen to believe that’s a good thing, and I think the Cherokee will far outsell the Liberty it will replace when it hits showrooms this Fall. The Cherokee will come in 4 trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk. Off-roaders will be interested in only the Trailhawk, which will begin just under $30,000 and be the only one of the 4 to come standard with 4-wheel drive while holding the ultimate Jeep benchmark of being Trail Rated. The other trim levels are essentially Honda CR-V competitors.
While I believe it’s a sin to sell any Jeep without 4WD, the standard powertrain on all trims except the Trailhawk is front-wheel drive.
So the new Cherokee will have some off-road chops, if you pony up for them. The other option, of course, is to stage your own Cherokee revival by finding a used one and bringing it back to life. You’ll save loads of money compared with new and get that retro cool look that is always in style.
Personally, I like this new Cherokee. A lot. I’m excited to test-drive one and see just how far Jeep has come since the mediocre days of the Liberty.
Where do you fall: Buy a new Cherokee, or go retro with a used one?