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Cherokee takes on Rubicon Trail

by David Zatz on

Long ago, when Chrysler Corporation was still around, every 4×4 with the Jeep badge had to conquer the Rubicon trail. The requirement assured both customers and the company that their Jeep 4x4s were still serious for off-road duty (the company still sold rear wheel drive versions).

That requirement went by the wayside with the launch of the Trail Rated system, but Jeep has still taken new cars on the Rubicon, including the Grand Cherokee and, now, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee.

The Jeep Cherokee has come in for its share of ridicule by Jeep fans and others, given its front wheel drive base configuration, the Fiat origins of its basic dimensions and suspension architecture, and its nontraditional looks. These images of the Cherokee are interesting, since on the one hand serious off-roaders will immediately see and point out the lack of suspension articulation, but on the other, the vehicles are clearly overcoming obstacles un-aided, and seem to be up to the punishment of the terrain.

Critics have accused the company of “creating rock bridges” and smoothing out the trails before taking them, but it isn’t unusual for photos of off-road trails to fail to reflect the challenges. Our own photography of off-road trails has been disappointing, with the camera making sheer drops look flat. Using spotters is accepted practice on tough parts of the trail, and was done back in the AMC days as well. The company will post a video as well.

Jeep Cherokee has been slammed by some for its looks, but it appears to be a love/hate vehicle, as many of those who saw it (especially in person) were very positive. Even if 70% of the public loathes the looks, of 30% of potential buyers love it, that would still be an advantage in a highly competitive field of midsize SUVs and crossovers.

Cherokee is set to start production around August, with dealerships starting to get stock in September or October, in time for the winter 4×4 selling season. Thanks, RVC.

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