Review: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4

Monday December 8th, 2014 at 1:1212 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4x4

By David Colman

Hypes: Spacious, Off-Road Ready
Gripes: Could Use a (Grand Cherokee)V8 and Brighter Headlights

Jeep has an engaging way of reminding you of the company’s storied past. For example, the lower spoke of the Latitude’s fat rimmed steering wheel is inscribed with the notation “Since 1941.” The granite colored fabric covering the seats looks more serviceable than luxurious. The khaki pouch containing the owner’s manual might have once served as a bag for your canteen. The heritage on display is so convincing you almost expect to find a jerry can buried in the recesses of the trunk.

But this Jeep earns its stripes with more than just idle allusions. This is a real, heavy duty, off-road capable 4×4, as distinguished from those light duty all-wheel-drive interlopers so many manufacturers try to pawn off these days as trailblazers. Your first clue that you could tackle the Rubicon trail with the Latitude is the fat knob on the center console reading “4WD LOW” which allows you to creep over otherwise impassable terrain. Yes, this bargain priced $31,020 Cherokee not only offers 4WD Low for tricky travel under 25mph, but also a mechanical locking rear differential (which Jeep calls “E-Locker”) to navigate especially treacherous passages slower than 15mph. This golden promise of traction comes to you for just $995, if you order Customer Preferred Package 27J. Included in the benefits are a 9-speed automatic gearbox with Jeep Active Drive II, Hill Descent Control, and Off-Road Suspension.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4x4

Power for our test Cherokee came from a 3.2 liter V6 more notable for its highway gas economy (26 MPG) than its sheer horsepower (271hp). The 9 speed transmission does an admirable job of maximizing power produced by the 24 valve engine. The 3.25:1 rear axle ratio strikes a decent compromise between acceleration potential and acceptable cruising mileage. The floor-mounted shift allows you to override gear selection at any time, and quite frankly, there are times when the V6 needs a little extra prodding from a lower gear to complete passing maneuvers. Otherwise, you will discover that if you just leave this gearbox in “Drive,” a considerable lag occurs between the time you floor the accelerator and when the engine actually responds.

The Latitude is perfectly configured for long distance freeway jaunts. There is absolutely no wind noise or road intrusion inside the cockpit at speeds over 70mph. This quietude is surprising in view of the Jeep’s off-road suspension underpinnings, so you can probably thank the Firestone Destination tires (225/65R17)for contributing to the silence. If you order the optional Trailer Tow Package, this Jeep will pull 4,500 pounds; or 2,000 pounds without the special fittings. Trailer Sway Damping is a standard Cherokee feature.

On twisting back roads, Latitude is not quite so happy as it is on the freeway. Here, its frontal weight bias causes it to plow into turns, requiring you to crank an extra 20 degrees of lock into the steering wheel, just I thought I was done with the exercise. This tendency became especially demanding in heavy rain, which caused the front Firestones to drift even further from my anticipated trajectory. The “Bi-Function Halogen Projector Headlamps” sound more proficient than they are. Actual night time performance was marginal.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4x4

Although the interior of the Latitude is mostly monochromatic, it’s done with an understated panache that makes you appreciate Jeep’s good taste. The seats, though manually controlled, are quite supportive and handsomely done, with white stitched black side bolsters, and grey cloth inserts that defy sliding. The oatmeal headliner brightens the expansive interior substantially, and brushed aluminum graces the door pulls. Matte titanium colored bezels outline the instrument binnacle, centrally mounted 5 inch touch screen, and air vents. The compartment between the front seats is commodious; you can optionally equip its upper level with a wireless phone charging pad, but be sure not to lay your key fob on it. The floor in the trunk area is hinged at the rear. Lift it, and you find a large hidden set of four shallow storage bins. Remove the bin partition for access to the space saver spare and jack.

Jeep offers a lot of vehicle for the money here. If you are serious about off-roading, or just enjoy the rugged grace this company has been refining since 1941, you need to check out the latest Cherokee Latitude.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4x4

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4

  • Engine: 3.2 Liter V6 24 Valve with VVT
  • Horsepower: 271hp
  • Torque: 239 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 19 MPG City/26 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $31,020
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4×4 Diesel

Thursday October 16th, 2014 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 Diesel

By David Colman

Hypes: Solid Power Team, Efficient Use of Space
Gripes: Vague Steering Feel, Ergonomic Cabin Issues

The big news at Jeep this year is availability of a diesel engine for the Grand Cherokee model. Although this Eco Diesel option is not inexpensive, at $5,000, it will pay back dividends in mileage and cruising range unavailable with either of Grand Cherokee’s other gas engine offerings (3.6 liter V6 and 5.7 liter V8). If you opt for the diesel, your 24.6 gallon fuel tank will take you more than 700 miles between visits to the pump island. In addition, you will be able to tow a 7400 pound trailer thanks to the diesel’s 420 pound feet of torque. That prodigious torque output makes the Grand Cherokee diesel your best bet for towing duties. By comparison, the 5.7 liter V8 makes 390 pound feet of torque.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 Diesel

Also new for 2014 is the appropriately named Summit model, a range topper which outranks the Overland as the most luxurious Grand Cherokee of all. If you haven’t examined a Jeep interior in a while, you will be smitten with the attention to detail inside this cabin. Our test Jeep, done up in Jeep Brown, is meant to emulate the colors of the Grand Canyon. To me it looked more like an advertisement for See’s Chocolates. Vast swatches of glove soft “Natura-Plus” mocha leather cover the seating surfaces and complement the matching open pore wood of the dash and center console. Even the steering wheel rim features real wood top and bottom segments. The suede-like headliner and A-pillars beg you to touch them. The instrument panel can be configured with a variety of displays thanks to thin film transistor (TFT) technology. The huge double paned panoramic sunroof blasts the interior with enough daylight and fresh air to dispel any trace of back seat claustrophobia. Though it’s hard to find demerits inside the Summit Jeep, flat, hard front seats cry for softer cushions and additional side support.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 Diesel

Also new for 2014 is an 8 speed automatic transmission which offers torque multiplication in gears 1 through 5, direct drive (1:1) in gear 6, and overdrive ratios in speeds 7 and 8. The transmission up shifts and downshifts seamlessly. For 2014, all Grand Cherokees include paddle shifts for gear changes. The gear selection controller sits atop the center console, activated by a stubby T-handle lever with detents set so close together that it’s easy to get Neutral or Park when seeking Reverse.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 Diesel

Although you might mistake this Jeep’s many luxury indulgences for a soft underbelly, that is hardly the case. In fact, the Summit is well equipped to conquer any unpaved road you care to tackle. This Jeep is Trail Rated, an honor bestowed only on vehicles which meet strict guidelines for ground clearance, maneuverability, traction, articulation and water fording. In the case of the Grand Cherokee, you can count on its sophisticated full time 4 Wheel Drive Quadra Trac II system to guarantee traction and maneuverability in the outback. As far as ride height is concerned, the Summit provides a Quadra Lift air suspension system that affords 8.7 inches of ground clearance in normal daily driving. You can elevate it 1.3 inches by selecting the Off Road 1 setting, or 2.6 inches for Off Road 2. With 11.3 inches of ground clearance in this rock avoidance mode, you can clear most any obstacle, or dare to ford stream beds. If you choose Aero Mode, or Sport setting, the Jeep drops 0.6 inch to a ride height of 8.1 inches for less wind resistance and better fuel economy.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 Diesel

The Summit edition of the Grand Cherokee is a styling exercise that ticks all the right boxes for clean design. First you’ll notice new LED head and tail lights, and new charcoal rocker panels which match dark gray lower valences front and rear. The rear under tray houses exhaust tips, the front sports newly integrated fog lights. Bi-Xenon headlights swivel from side to side for improved back road illumination as you turn the steering wheel. Model specific polished aluminum alloy rims measure 8 x 20 inches and plant hefty contact patches on the road thanks to Goodyear Fortera HL tires measuring 265/50R20.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 Diesel

The Summit diesel weighs 5,149 pounds, so you won’t be whipping it through S curves like a sport SUV. You’ll also become quickly cognizant of its heft when you make your first U-turn, an undertaking that uses up 37 feet of road and forces you to swing the steering wheel through 3.7 turns from lock to lock. But once you’ve seated four or five adults inside this luxurious cabin, and headed off road to do some serious trail blazing, you’ll marvel at just how much power, range and competence $59,000 will buy when you select this Detroit-built bargain of a Jeep.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4×4 Diesel

  • Engine: 3.0 liter V-6 Diesel, turbocharged, common rail direct injection
  • Horsepower: 240hp
  • Torque: 420lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 27 MPG City/ 28 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $50,875
  • Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2014 Toyota 4Runner LTD 4×4

Friday October 10th, 2014 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 Toyota 4Runner LTD 4x4

By David Colman

Hypes: Taunts You To Tackle Moab
Gripes: Pogo Ride, Fake Wood

Give the 4Runner its due. Unlike so many pretend cowboy SUVs that are all hat and no cattle, the 4Runner is still boss of the cattle drive. Instead of flimsy unibody construction that is so prevalent in the SUV kingdom these days, 4Runner sticks with its heritage rugged body-on-frame construction. Thanks to the massive pair of boxed frame rails underlying this Toyota, you don’t need to think twice about hitching a 5,000 pound trailer to the 4Runner’s new, standard-for-2014, receiver style hitch. The tow package also provides 4 and 7 pin electrical connections.

2014 Toyota 4Runner LTD 4x4

The stout 1GR-FE V6 makes more than enough power (270hp) and torque (276 lb.-ft.) to haul a loaded trailer over the Sierras without blinking a turn signal. Best of all, if traction becomes iffy near Donner Summit due to inclement weather, just dial up the appropriate setting on the 4WD system by reaching for a beefy knurled “A-Trac” knob on the center console. With it, you can configure the drive system for any eventuality, from 70 mile per hour, 2WD touring to 10 mile per hour, 4WD Crawl Control. If traction is particularly limited, lock the center differential and downshift the 5-speed automatic gearbox into low range. Pretend SUVs do not offer a locking center differential. It’s a device that ensures on or off road conditions will never conspire to keep 4Runner from its appointed rounds.

Of course, there is a price to pay for this consummate tractive effort. The ride of the 4Runner is invariably harsher than you’ll experience in less fully evolved SUVs. Step-in is a bit challenging, as the 4Runner stands 70.1 inches high. You will frequently avail yourself of the grab handles located over each door. The standard 20 inch tall, 6-spoke alloy wheels bearing 245/60R20 Bridgestone Dueler H/T tires, impart a rugged, jacked up look to the 4Runner. They are also responsible for elevating the Toyota’s center of gravity to the point that sudden lane changes provoke disconcerting bobbing motions. The ultra stiff “X-REAS Sport Enhancement Suspension” compounds the twitchiness and harsh ride. But if you aim to sling this thing through the Rubicon Trail, you’ll praise the calculated competence of the competition bred suspension package.

2014 Toyota 4Runner LTD 4x4

Order the Limited version (rather than the SR5 or Trail models) and you will lack for nothing in terms of comfort or equipment. The least expensive 4WD 4Runner is the SR5, with a base price of $34,695. One step up brings you the Trail 4WD at $35,725. Next comes the Trail Premium 4WD ($38,645), and then our Limited 4WD, with a base price of $43,400 and an as delivered sticker of $47,520. The jump from Trail to Limited ups the ante by installing a JBL premium sound system with 15 speakers, HD radio, Entune applications, and a highly legible 8.1 inch monitor for controlling the dual zone climate control system and the included navigation system. Limited largesse also extends to leather front seats, mirror and seat memory settings, subscription services, multi-zone air conditioning, and somewhat bogus looking wood grain interior trim. On a 100degree day in the East Bay, that multi-zone air conditioning proved inadequate to cooling the interior between repeated shopping stops. Save yourself $1,365 by deleting the leather trimmed fold flat 3rd row seats and sliding leather second row seats. Lop another $1,500 off our list price by eliminating the “Automatic Running Boards.”

2014 Toyota 4Runner LTD 4x4

The dashboard of the 4Runner has a look all its own. If you were a fan of 80′s Boom Boxes, you’ll love the Limited’s oversize knobs, matte platinum finishers, and Be-Bop graphics. There’s still a playfulness to 4Runner design that is sorely lacking in the competition. From its start in the late 1980s, Toyota’s 4Runner has carved out a look and niche of its own. This is a brand that says rugged and individualistic, from its snarling chrome snout to its shiny bold tailgate finisher. New this year are massive, protuberant Projector Beam headlights, and equally dramatic looking LED tail lights.

If you find yourself lost in a sea of pretty SUVs. look to Toyota’s 4Runner for celestial navigation. It’s still the same pole star it’s been all along: tough, athletic, and undaunted. For SUV buyers looking for more than a pretty face and a plush ride, the tightly focused 4Runner is still the real deal for pleasure seekers and serious off roaders alike.

2014 Toyota 4Runner LTD 4x4

2014 Toyota 4Runner LTD 4×4

  • Engine: 4.0 liter V6, 24 Valves, DOHC, Dual VVT-i
  • Horsepower: 270hp
  • Torque: 276 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 17 MPG City/21 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $47,520
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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2011 Jeep Compass Latitude 4×4 Review

Wednesday September 28th, 2011 at 11:99 AM
Posted by: mtan

2011 Jeep Compass
By Ming Tan


  • Exterior styling – share some visual cues with the big brother Cherokee Series
  • Roomy – the passengers get a decent amount of leg and shoulder room for long distance comfort, although some cargo room is sacrificed
  • Heritage – shares the same Jeep off road bloodlines that began with the original Wrangler
  • Relevance – the 2.4-liter I4 motor is efficient – 21 mpg city and 26mpg highway


  • Small storage area for its class – 60.7 cubic feet vs. 73 cubic feet in the popular Toyota RAV4
  • Sparse interior – hard plastics and a simple dash – some consider this a good thing, but on the Compass, it doesn’t look like an interior belonging to a $27k SUV
  • Blind spot visibility – the rear c pillar design adds to the exterior aesthetic appeal, but hinders blind spot visibility

“Evolution of a Legendary Bloodline”

I’ve always liked trucks and SUV’s; to be more clear, rugged trucks and SUV’s. I’ve even had my eyes open for a rugged Jeep Wrangler sometime down the road. To me, that model is synonymous with Jeep and it embodies what is pure about the brand: its rugged and well-rounded capabilities.

I’ve owned a few SUV’s over the years, and have test driven a number; most recently, the new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. The new Jeep Compass is similar in price, size, and value, so the timing was good to get some miles on this small SUV. I recognize that not everyone takes their SUV off road, so I evaluated the Compass from an image, value, and capability standpoint, given the compact SUV class that it belongs to. It seems to be a growing segment with worthy competitors, and the Jeep performed well overall, but not without a few issues.

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2010 Jeep Commander Sport 4×4 First Impressions Review

Wednesday December 15th, 2010 at 2:1212 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By contributing editor David Colman

If you want to relive That Eighties Show, you could pop an Air Supply cassette into your tape player, watch a Ron Reagan speech on VHS, or jump into a Jeep Commander. Of the three choices, only the Jeep requires no tape for replay. You can march down to your local Chrysler/Jeep dealer right now to buy this perfect time capsule vehicle for just $33,575. Granted, a number of mostly unseen safety and technological advances distinguish the current product from its predecessors, like advanced multistage airbags and side curtain airbags in all rows. But you can’t see these improvements. So if you’re after that throwback feel, you couldn’t do better than a new Commander. After all, there’s a lot to be said for classic Jeep: the simple lines, the big chrome smile, the vast amount of space inside, the virile feel of the controls, the hunky responsiveness of the engine, and last but certainly not least, the legendary off-road agility of a Trail Rated Jeep.

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2010 Jeep Commander Review – A Jeep of many talents, but a master of none

Wednesday June 2nd, 2010 at 8:66 AM
Posted by: mash

2010 Jeep Commander Sport 4x4
By Mary Ellen Ash


  • Excellent cargo space
  • Average in-class mpg
  • 4×4 off-road capability
  • More utility than a Swiss army knife
  • Lots of television screens


  • Poor rear view visibility
  • Very cramped 3rd row seating
  • Flimsy ignition system
  • Anemic engine
  • Cheap, poorly designed interior

Ruling: it’s utilitarian with lots of passenger and cargo space, with average in-class mpg.

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