2014 Jeep Cherokee 2.0 Limited 140 6-speed manual 4×4 review – Mid-Size SUV with lots to offer

High quality interior feels like more expensive SUV cabin, value for money, 8.4″ Uconnect system is excellent, good ride and drive, Cargo Management System in boot is clever, 4×4 system works well

Rear headroom tighter than should be, cheap-looking gearknob, Selec-Terrain control on wrong side of gear shifter, 140hp MultiJet II too slow

Jeep Cherokee?

Jeep introduced the Cherokee in 1974, and for a time it was also known as the Liberty in North America, up until the 4th Generation 2014 model. With a squared-off shape being the order of the day up until this latest-gen model, Jeep moved in entirely new – and very bold – design direction to both move with the times and attract more customers.

We were sent the 2014 Jeep Cherokee 2.0 Limited 140 6-speed manual 4×4 to test and find out if this mid-sized SUV can keep up with rivals in a tough and highly-competitive marketplace.

Exterior. Butt-ugly or beauty?

Jeep Cherokee 2.0 Limited 140 6-speed manual review-0501
Whether you like the look of this 4th generation Jeep Cherokee or not, there’s no denying it’s a very distinct design, and if you’re after individualism the Cherokee sticks out in a crowd of other mid-sized SUVs. I’ll admit, I was torn between really liking it and really disliking it. There didn’t seem to be any between ground for me personally, and from viewing photos of it I was leaning towards the latter.

After taking delivery of the Cherokee Limited, I was surprised that it’s actually easier on the eyes in the flesh, and after a couple of days with the Jeep it grew on me. Of course, I can say all I want about the styling but at the end of the day it’s down to personal taste, and opinions from people on its looks vary dramatically.

For me, the slit-like front lights are pretty cool, as is the grille and the muscular bonnet. However, overall the front end of the Cherokee is a fussy affair, with three sets of lights, and a bit of a mish-mash of bodywork styling slashes and grooves. But then I kinda like it from certain angles. There, you see, I’m still conflicted even now! Let’s just say it is distinctive and I like that in a vehicle.

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From the side, Jeep have made sure it keeps to its tradition of making SUVs that appear like they’ll tackle the off-road stuff as well as the urban sprawl, by giving it big, squared-off wheel arches with plenty of clearance around the tyres, and lower heavy-duty plastic trim all the way around the car. Unfortunately, the big arches mean the wheels are rather swallowed up, which make them appear slightly too small for the car, and the squared-off look of them isn’t exactly becoming either.

Around to the rear, and Jeep have somehow made this part of the Cherokee look strong and rugged, possibly because of the thick swathe of plastic lower moulding, jutting angular lights and bodywork and hefty roof spoiler. A big ‘4×4’ badge has been slapped on the back to make sure you know this Jeep ain’t all show and no go.

Jeep Cherokee 2.0 Limited 140 6-speed manual review-0703

All said, the traditionalists and fans of the previous generations of Cherokees and their squared-off looks may not be happy with the new direction Jeep have taken their mid-sized SUV, but times change and if Jeep didn’t they simply wouldn’t be around to keep up with them. Like it or not, the 4th generation Cherokee is selling well, so Jeep are obviously doing something right.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

Jeep Cherokee limited manual front leather seats dashboard centre

Look back through the previous generations of Cherokee, and you’ll see they don’t skimp on the comfort side of things, with deep leather seats front and rear, and plenty of space too. After all, the Cherokee was original designed for the American market, and if there’s one thing they know how to do well it’s making a comfortable car.

We were sent the Cherokee in Limited spec, which is one below the special order, range-topping Trailhawk, and as standard it’s very well kitted out indeed. First off, the design. Basically, the Cherokee’s cabin is a shrunk-down version of its big brother’s – the Grand Cherokee, which we absolutely loved.

From the moment I sat in the Cherokee I felt a sense that it’s a good place to be. The nicely-designed heated and ventilated front seats are trimmed with plush, soft leather which you sink into, and are complimented with contrast stitching for more of an upmarket look. Your derrière and back will be perfectly happy in these for long-distance trips.

Jeep Cherokee Limited manual front leather seats side view

The reclinable rear seating is also pleasant enough, and for once even the middle seat of the rears is passable – something which a lot of manufacturers bizarrely seem to think is okay to make brick-firm. Leg and elbow room is certainly fine for the size of car, but unfortunately the headroom is awful! A 5′ 10″ passenger noted his head was only a few inches from the rooflining, so if you’re over six feet you’re going to have to slouch down.

Jeep Cherokee Limited manual rear leather seats 1

Another couple of negatives I noted was that the rear headrests are too firm, which kind of spoils things if you want to rest your head back and get some rest on a long journey – a strange oversight by Jeep considering the rest of the seating is good. Airflow to the rear via the central vents (situated between the front seats) was really rather poor too, even with the fan speed set to the maximum.

For extra storage space, the rear 60:40 split seats slide back and forward, and they also fold flat as well. This means instead of having to normally fold to seats to get something long in, you can simply move them about. Clever stuff. Storage capacity is given as 591 litres seats up, 714 seats forward, and 1,267 folded. Jeep have added some other handy stowage solutions, including the Cargo Management System (that metal bit in the boot), which you can clip different Jeep bags to, and there’s also a hidden compartment under the front passenger seat to stow your gear in.

Door handle and gold trim on the Jeep Cherokee 2.0 Limited 140

The Cherokee’s dash and centre console layout looks smart yet solid, and upmarket too, thanks to well-chosen materials. There’s a lot of black and deep grey throughout, which I’d normally deem dull, but there are smatterings of matt beige-gold trim pieces here and there (they look better than it sounds), and somehow it all adds up to suit the Cherokee well.

WWII Jeep silhouette on the windscreen of the Jeep Cherokee 2.0 Limited 140

There are reminders of the Jeep heritage around the cabin if you look carefully, such as ‘Since 1941’ stamped into the bottom of the steering wheel in military-esque font, and there’s a World War II Jeep outline at the bottom of the windscreen where the dot matrix normally is.

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The Limited gets the massive high resolution 8.4″ UConnect touchscreen, which is a brilliant system with slick, modern graphics, a super-clear reverse camera, easy-to-use menus, excellent satellite navigation, DAB radio, a text message reader, and a whole host of way to listen to your music, including Bluetooth, Aux/USB/SD inputs, plus a media hub that allows you to connect apps too. My only real gripe is with the route option feature on the sat nav, where the various routes shown on the screen are so similar in colour shades that they are barely distinguishable from one another, which is confusing.

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Another benefit of buying the Cherokee Limited is the rather cool high definition full-colour 7″ TFT screen in the instrument panel, which can customised to show various information (outside temp, time, fuel economy etc) at different parts of the screen.

Under the front centre armrest there’s what looks to be a smartphone holder, but actually it’s a wireless charging pad for phones with that technology – what a great idea rather than trailing messy wires around the cabin.

Smartphone holder and wireless charger on the Jeep Cherokee 2.0 Limited 140

A couple of thing which spoil the Cherokee interior are the round metal manual gearshift gearknob, which looks like it came from a cheap aftermarket auto store, is uncomfortable to hold thanks to the ridges in it, and it scratches ridiculously easily too. Secondly, the ‘Select-Terrain’ control is on the left and to the front of the gear shifter, which makes it harder to get to than it should, and it’s partially hidden from view. Obviously, this has been designed for left-drive cars where it is fine to reach and see, but Jeep have been particularly lazy here and simply not switched it around for their right drive vehicles.

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Jeep have gone far to ensure the Cherokee is a safe vehicle, with a ‘best in class’ win from Euro NCAP in 2013, beating of 33 other cars in the category, plus an overall score of 83/100 equalling a 5-star score. There are 7 airbags as standard (front seats multistage air bags, side bags, window bags, driver side knee air bag), ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with rollover mitigation (ERM), and (optionally) Forward Collision Warning-Plus, ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus, Lane Departure Warning-Plus, Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection.

While there are a few things I’d like to see improved on the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited interior, overall it’s a very nice place to be, and you’re certainly getting a lot for your money.

Engine & gearbox

At the time of writing, the Cherokee is only available with the 2.0 litre Turbo diesel MultiJet II engine, although later in 2015 the Trailhawk model will get a 3.2 litre Pentastar V6 petrol producing 272 horsepower and 232 lb ft (315 Nm) of torque.

The 2.0 litre turbo diesel MultiJet II is a 4-cylinder (inline) 16-valve belt-driven unit with DOHC (double overhead camshaft) and a variable geometry turbocharger (VGT), plus stop/start technology. With the 6-speed manual gearbox, you’ll get the MultiJet II with 140 bhp at 3,750 rpm and 258 lb ft (350 Nm) of torque at 1,500 rpm. Go for the clever new 9-speed automatic transmission and you’ll have 170 bhp on tap, but with the same amount of torque as the manual.

The 2.0 litre Turbo diesel MultiJet II engine in the Jeep Cherokee Limited

Official EU test stats for fuel economy on the 140 bhp 6-speed manual 4×4 Cherokee we were sent are (in UK mpg): urban: 41.5, extra urban: 57.7, combined: 50.4, while CO2 emissions are rated as 147 g/km. 0 – 62 mph takes 12.0 seconds, and it’ll do 117 mph at the top end. If you’re thinking the 4×4 version will be a lot heavier on fuel, then don’t, as the 2WD only gets around 4 mpg more.

From my own experience, a winding country road run (with varying speed limits of 30, 40 & 60 mph) over 1.5 hours saw a 40 mpg average, and around 50 mpg if you’re taking it easy on the straights (at 45 – 60 mph), depending on the weather, climate and route, of course.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

Pulling onto tarmac in the Jeep Cherokee 2.0 Limited 140 6-speed manual

Fire the 2.0 litre MultiJet II four-cylinder diesel into life, and from inside the cabin it’s actually surprisingly muted, thanks to Jeep packing in vast amounts of sound-deadening. Good, as I can’t stand the sound of a noisy 4-pot diesel.

In the annoyingly slow city traffic, I quickly noticed that that first and second gears feel tighter with more resistance than than rest of the 6-speed ‘box. Jeep say this is a ‘state of the art gearbox’, but I thought the shifter felt heavier than it should to get into gear, and not as slick as I’d like. The clutch is nice and light though, which is great if you’re doing a fair amount of city commuting.

Driving the Jeep Cherokee 2.0 Limited 140 6-speed manual

There’s also lots of low-down torque which makes things easier in traffic, and acceleration through the gears is extremely smooth, even if you’re being jerky with the clutch or go pedal – almost like things have been ironed out digitally to give glossy, flowing advancement.

On that, after a week with the Jeep I felt the manual 140 hp model needed more power and torque. While the 0 – 60 mph run isn’t the be-all and end-all, at 12.0 seconds that’s way slower than the lowest-powered versions of rivals such as the Volvo XC60, Toyota RAV4, Range Rover Evoque, Land Rover Freelander, and even the Honda CR-V.

At motorway speeds (70 – 80 mph) the Jeep cruises well enough, but acceleration from a long 6th gear is slow, and I found myself dropping to 5th to get the job done. Because of the long sixth gear, strangely enough even though it’ll sit fine at higher speeds, the lack of acceleration in top gear made it feel like it was struggling somehow. It isn’t, but that’s how it came across.

Jeep Cherokee Limited manual review car gear stick select terrain dial

However, the question is: is the 140 horsepower engined version of the Cherokee adequate enough? It does the job, yes, but it’s slower than I’d like personally. I’m no speed freak, but I just felt it could do with that bit of extra punch.

Wind and road noise into the cabin is very well muted, which goes hand-in-hand with the luxury of the interior, and you certain feel well cocooned and comfortable, especially when the weather outside is terrible.

Steering is actually rather positive, and the ride is fairly refined although at low city speeds it could feel a little firm when jarring through potholes and over rough winter-ragged roads. Overall though, the Cherokee gives a nice ride with decent handling.

Driving through water at speed in a Jeep Cherokee 2.0L Limited

With a kerb weight of 1,846 kilograms (4,070 lbs) the Jeep Cherokee is not a lightweight vehicle, and you do get a sense of that poundage as the car is rolling along or braking. The brakes are well adequate though, and there’s no excessive nose dive as it loads up under heavy braking, so no worries in that area.

If you’re going to be towing, you’ll need to know that the Cherokee 140 hp manual 4×4 will only tow up to a braked capacity of 1,600 kgs (3,527 lbs), whereas the Cherokee 170 Auto 4×4 pulls almost another ton over that – 2,475 kgs (5,456 lbs), to be exact.

Perhaps because of the weightiness – and also the luxurious interior – the Cherokee gives off the vibe that you’re driving an upmarket SUV, and if that’s what Jeep were striving for they’ve cracked it. Just give the manual 2.0 litre MultiJet II manual more power, and it’ll be even better…

AWD and off-road. Stuck or superb?

Off road on a muddy and icy forest trail in the Jeep Cherokee Limited manual

Bear with here as this gets a little complex, but depending on the spec level of Cherokee you go for, you can have the manual 6-speed 140 bhp with either 2-wheel-drive or 4×4 with Selec-Terrain and ‘Active Drive I’,  or the 9-speed auto version which comes only with 4×4, but with either the Active Drive I or Active Drive II system. All Cherokee 4x4s have a fully-automatic 4-wheel-drive system with a rear-axle disconnect’ system – a first on a mid-size SUV, apparently – meaning it switches between 2 & 4WD for better fuel economy.

Active Drive I uses the 4-mode Selec-Terrain so that you can choose which mode is best suited to the off-road conditions: Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud. I do find it weird that on the selector you have to go past ‘snow’ to get to ‘sport’. Surely people will mostly be using the Cherokee on-road, so ‘Sport’ mode should be first?.

Terrain select dial on the Jeep Cherokee 2.0 Limited 140 6-speed manual

Active Drive II has the same Selec-Terrain modes, but adds low-range, hill-descent and a ‘neutral mode’ for flat towing. The special edition Cherokee Trailhawk gets a more extreme version of the Active Drive II system, which also features a rear locking differential and a ‘Rock’ mode.

I took the Cherokee 4×4 140 hp manual with its Active Drive I system to a forest to get some photograph off-road, as there’s a load of logging tracks dotted about, which also gave us chance to test the Jeep’s four-wheel-drive prowess. However, the vehicle we were sent was only equipped with normal road tyres which will obviously negatively effect any 4×4 vehicle as soon as you drive off the road.

Off road on a muddy and icy forest trail in the Jeep Cherokee Limited manual

The first small track we came to looked deceptively easy to tackle, and so my photographer could grab a few images I reversed it a short way down. Yes, bit of a mistake that. The grass on top was just a thin layer, and tore away the moment it was driven over, exposing the weedy street tyres to slimy mud which quickly filled the grip ridges to the top.

Shuffling the Cherokee back and forth a few times for the shots, it became apparent that the Cherokee would only get up to a certain point in the track before coming to stop, its tyres spinning helplessly. Rolling the car forward and back gently had little effect other than to make things worse. By this point I was slightly worried, as vehicles passing were few and far between in case I needed a tow out, and the tow rope wouldn’t reach far enough anyway.

Off road on a muddy forest trail in the Jeep Cherokee Limited manual

Time to see what the Select-Terrain could do, and turning the dial to Sand/Mud I set off, easing off the clutch and giving the Cherokee very little throttle for maximum traction. This didn’t work though, and the Jeep just kept getting stuck at the same point as before. Now properly worried and a bit sweaty, I backed the Cherokee up, eyed up the end of the lane, and floored the accelerator hard.

Engine roaring, the Jeep squirmed and pulled side-to-side as the traction system worked overtime, but slowly, and literally inch-by-inch, the Cherokee hauled its way forward through the slime, almost coming to a complete stop at some points, before finally reaching terra firma and me whooping loudly in relief and triumph simultaneously.

Off road on a muddy and icy forest trail in the Jeep Cherokee Limited manual

The Cherokee was completely caked in dirt (and looked tougher for it), and as I looked back down the track I realised just how deeply bogged-down the Jeep had gotten, so far in fact that the front end was touching the track, which rather explains why it was so hard to get out of.

So, the Jeep actually did brilliantly all things considered, but would have done way better should it have had either proper off-road tyres fitted or at least some all-season ones. If you’re going to be tackling the rough/slippery stuff regularly, you’d be best going for the 9-speed automatic with its Active Drive II system (around £1,500 more) which includes low-range gearing. If you’re even more serious than that, get yourself the Cherokee Trailhawk for the rear-locking diff, Rock mode and underbody skid plates.

Price

Off-road on a muddy forest trail in the Jeep Cherokee 2.0 Limited
(figures correct April ’15) The 2015 Cherokee starts at just over £26,000 and tops out at slightly above £37,800 for the Limited 2.0 170hp MultiJet II Active Drive II, while our 2.0 Limited 140hp 6-speed Manual 4×4 cost £33,195 without options.

According to Jeep’s comparison page, their Limited 2.0 170hp MultiJet II Active Drive I beats similarly-spec’d competition – such as the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Land Rover Freelander and Volvo XC60 – by between £1,800 and £3,300.

Our test car felt worth the money in terms of build quality and the standard spec of equipment it had, but I still believe that the ‘low power’ 140hp version of the 2.0 MultiJet II is just that, and you’d be better off going for the the 170hp model.

My personal choice would be the mid-range Longitude+ model with the 9-speed Auto, 170hp and Active Drive I 4×4, which at £32,800 actually costs around £400 less than the lower-powered model we had. You do sacrifice some equipment over the Limited, but for more power and less money it’s likely worth it.

2015 Jeep Cherokee 2.0 Limited 140 6-speed manual 4×4 verdict & score

Off road on a forest trail in the Jeep Cherokee Limited manual

I was really impressed with the high level of quality on this 4th generation Jeep Cherokee, and it’s got a lot going for it. However, there are things I didn’t like so let’s deal with those points first.

I didn’t like the lack of rear headroom and overly-firm headrests, the airflow to the rear that didn’t actually do much, the 140hp engine which needs more power, the cheap-looking metal manual gearknob, the Selec-Terrain dial being on the wrong side of the gearstick for left-drive models, and the heavier-than-expected shifts from the manual ‘box.

Now for the good stuff: it’s a solidly-built SUV, and inside it ticks a lot of boxes: high-grade leather on the seats, lots of soft-touch trim pieces, a good fit and finish overall, and a nicely designed cabin incorporating contemporary equipment like the 8.4″ UConnect touchscreen, 7″ TFT screen in the binnacle and wireless charging pad under the front armrest.

Jeep have also been clever with the boot space by including the sliding rear seats and handy Cargo Management System, and the Cherokee also has an incredibly high safety rating from Euro NCAP

With engine, wind and road noise well muted, plus an overall decent driving experience the Cherokee gave me the impression I was in a high-end, expensive SUV for the most part, and it can easily cut it with the likes of the big European marques. Jeep also obviously take the off-road side of things very seriously, and provide what their customers expect from the marque on that side of things, and finally it has been priced very competitively.

Do you own a Jeep Cherokee, or have questions about it? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  7.5
Interior  8
Engine (140hp)  6.5
Gearbox (manual)  6.5
Price  8
Handling  6
Drive & Ride  7.5
 Off-Road ability  7
Overall Score  7.0 / 10

Read more of our Jeep reviews here

Specs

Model (as tested)  2014 Jeep Cherokee 2.0 Limited 140 6-speed manual 4×4
Spec includes  Stop/start system, power tailgate, 17″ polished alloy wheels, Emergency Accident Response System (EARS), HID bi-xenon headlights with LED running lights, Selec-Terrain system with Jeep Active Drive 1, 8.4″ Uconnect media system with sat nav, Bluetooth, DAB voice control & reverse camera, front/rear parksense, 7″ TFT instrument cluster display, leather upholstery, heated front seats, power driver & passenger seats, electronic parking brake, cruise control, 9-speaker Alpine sound system with Subwoofer. Safety: Brake stability control, hill start assist, traction control, electronic roll mitigation. See website for more detail.
Options you should spec  Panoramic sunroof with opening front section: £950
The Competition   Volvo XC60, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Toyota RAV4, Audi Q5, Range Rover Evoque, BMW X3. Honda CR-V, Land Rover Freelander
Price  (April ’15)  £26,000 – £37,800. As tested: £33,195
Engine  2.0 litre turbocharged diesel MultiJet II, 4-cylinder (inline), 16-valve, DOHC (double overhead camshaft) with variable geometry turbocharger (VGT)
Power, Torque  Power: 140 bhp at 3,750 rpm | Torque: 258 lb ft (350 Nm) @ 1,500 rpm
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Automatic 4×4 (drives in 2 & 4WD) plus Selec-Terrain and ‘Active Drive I’| 6-speed manual
Ground clearance,  Towing Capacity  Clearance: 208 mm (8.2″) | Braked towing (manual 140hp): 1,600 kgs (3,527 lbs)
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 117 mph | 0 – 60 mph: 12.0 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: 5/5 stars
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 41.5, Extra urban: 57.7, Combined: 50.4 | CO2: 147 g/km
Weight (Kerb)  1,846 kilograms (4,070 lbs)
Websites  Jeep UK, Jeep USA, Jeep global

Words: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Joel May, Matthew Davies

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