Pros: Impressive off-road capabilities; better on-road handling and composure than other Jeeps; broad range of optional equipment and high-tech features; standard 9-speed automatic transmission
Cons: Cramped rear-seat space; radical front-end styling is off-putting to Jeep traditionalists; other compact SUVs have better cargo volume
CG Says: The new-for-2014 Jeep Cherokee revives a celebrated Jeep nameplate and shares its basic platform and 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with the Dodge Dart. (A 3.2-liter V6 is also available.) Despite its passenger-car roots, the new Cherokee offers multiple all-wheel-drive options for off-road use. Cherokee’s closest competitors are the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Mazda CX-5 for most of its trim levels. The exception is the range-topping, off-road-ready Cherokee Trailhawk model, which has few direct rivals in the compact-SUV class. The only other vehicles in its class that come close to–or match–its level of off-road equipment are the other compact Jeeps, namely the Compass, Patriot, and, for buyers interested in extreme off-roading, the 4-door Wrangler Unlimited.