Why the non-traditional 2014 Jeep Cherokee will be a smash hit
By John LeBlanc for MSN Autos
Fiat’s Jeep division didn’t intentionally want to peeve-off their traditional buyers. But that’s the reaction they got when images of the new 2014 Cherokee (seen above) were leaked (then officially released) last week ahead of the compact crossover’s official debut at next month’s New York auto show.
Old school Jeep fans had few nice things to say about the new Cherokee’s looks. For starters, its three-level headlight styling not only looks like nothing we’ve ever seen from Jeep, it pretty much looks like nothing else on the road (although the Nissan Juke comes to mind, to this writer). And while the traditional Jeep seven-slit grille is there, it’s been bent back over the Cherokee’s hood (for better aero numbers, I’m assuming). And although upset commentators have only seen pictures, the new Cherokee’s car-based platform is already being thrown in the dustbin for its assumed lack of Rubicon Trail readiness. Me thinks the problem lies in that the new Cherokee looks nothing like the vehicle it's replacing, the outoing Liberty (seen below). In other words, the 2014 Cherokee looks modern, interesting and like it could be sold in any country — not just the U.S. of A.
The past. See that’s where the traditional Jeep fan’s angst with the 2014 Cherokee resides. The fact is, Jeep can’t rely on its traditional customers anymore. They are literally a dying breed. The truth is, the outgoing Liberty was an unsophisticated, fuel-guzzling, oxcart to drive. Sure. It was "Trail Rated". But really, the numbers of Jeepers who take their rigs off-road is getting smaller every year. The real growth is in the urban Jeep-wannabe driver. And when I mean urban, I don’t just mean Toronto or L.A. Fiat wants to sell the Cherokee worldwide. So it has to work in places like Rome, Tokyo and Beijing, spots the current Liberty simply does not.
When Mini came out with its not-so-mini Countryman, the old timers crawled out of their quonset huts and cried about of destroying the brand’s heritage. But now, Mini can’t make enough of the Countryman. And I predict the same success for the new and much more market-relevant 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
What do you think? Is the new 2014 Cherokee the right Jeep for our time? Or is it too soft to wear a Jeep badge?