The 2014 Cherokee, the first Fiat-based Jeep, offers a long list of conveniences, such as automatic parking and an 8.4-inch center-stack screen, but it also has four-wheel drive available for off-roading Jeep loyalists.
The Cherokee promises a 45 percent improvement in fuel economy, up to 31 mpg highway, over the Jeep Liberty it replaces. Unlike its predecessor, it is front-wheel drive, with optional all-wheel and four-wheel drive.
The Cherokee debuted Wednesday, March 27, at the New York auto show, although Chrysler Group released photos of the vehicle earlier.
Like the Grand Cherokee, the smaller SUV has the 8.4-inch center-stack infotainment screen and a 7-inch configurable screen in the instrument cluster. The Cherokee also features the underseat storage compartment introduced in the 2013 Dodge Dart, along with a fold-flat front passenger seat to accommodate large items.
The Cherokee offers optional ParkSense, which assists drivers with parallel and perpendicular parking. The SUV also features an optional array of sensors that enable electronic blind-spot monitoring and forward-collision and lane-departure warnings.
The five-passenger Cherokee, expected in dealerships by late summer, features two new engines and a new nine-speed fwd automatic transmission from ZF.
Under the hood are two engines: a standard 2.4-liter I-4 with variable valve timing and an optional new 3.2-liter V-6.
The Fiat platform also underpins the Dart.
Sticker prices were not disclosed.
Optional awd and 4wd are available with the Cherokee's innovative powertrain.
For awd, a system called Active Drive automatically connects the rear driveshaft and differential when they are needed for traction. For 4wd, a low gear is available for added torque.
The highest level of Active Drive, called Active Drive Lock, comes with a locking rear differential that allows the Cherokee to crawl over obstacles while off-roading. It is available only in the Trailhawk trim level.
The system has a neutral setting, allowing the vehicle to be towed without the use of a trailer.
The Cherokee will be available in four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited and the trail-rated Trailhawk trim that also adds an inch of ground clearance.
Production of the Cherokee is scheduled to begin May 23.