Chrysler executives also hold out hope that the Cherokee can reclaim market share among a field of mid-sized SUVs and crossovers that include the Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape.
The five-passenger Cherokee, expected in dealerships by late summer, features two new engines, a new 9-speed front-wheel-drive automatic transmission and a new drivetrain system.
The mid-sized SUV will be rated at up to 31 mpg highway and come in four trim levels.
Pricing for the Cherokee was not disclosed.
Under development by Chrysler Group since 2010, the 2014 Cherokee will be available with four drivetrains, including a front-wheel-drive only version and three levels of a unique disconnecting system Jeep calls Active Drive.
Active Drive automatically disconnects the rear driveshaft and axle when they are not needed for traction, allowing the wheels to roll passively. When additional traction is needed, the system re-engages automatically.
The highest level of the Active Drive system, called Active Drive Lock, comes with a locking rear differential that allows the Cherokee to crawl over obstacles at a ratio of 56:1. It is available only in the Trailhawk trim level.
In all cases, however, the drivetrain system has a neutral setting, allowing the vehicle to be towed without the use of a trailer.
Under the hood, the Cherokee will feature two naturally-aspirated engines: a standard 2.4-liter I-4 Tigershark with Fiat's Multiair II variable valve timing technology and an optional 3.2-liter version of Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6. The Tigershark engine produces 184 hp and 171 pounds-feet of torque, and the V-6 delivers 271 hp and 239 pounds-feet of torque.
The Cherokee also will mark the production debut of a 9-speed automatic transmission designed by ZF Friedrichshafen. Manual transmissions for the vehicle won't be available domestically but will be available for overseas versions.
The 2014 Cherokee's interior boasts dramatic improvements over the former 2012 Jeep Liberty and shares a number of cabin features with the larger Jeep Grand Cherokee and other Chrysler Group vehicles.
Like the Grand Cherokee, the smaller SUV will have an 8.4-inch center stack infotainment screen and a 7-inch configurable screen in the instrument cluster. The Cherokee also features the clever underseat storage compartment introduced in the 2013 Dodge Dart but couples it with a fold-flat front passenger seat to allow transport of large items.