What’s in a name, Shakespeare once asked. When it comes to cars, quite a bit, especially when it’s one of a handful of truly groundbreaking products. Like the Jeep Cherokee. The folks at Chrysler had to ask themselves some serious questions before simply slapping that once-formidable badge back on the replacement for the largely unloved Liberty SUV.
The original Cherokee, known internally as the XJ, effectively invented the modern sport-utility vehicle, transforming it from a military and commercial vehicle with a modest following among rugged outdoorsmen into a truly mainstream alternative. Of course, success begets imitation and soon, SUVs were everywhere. The market quickly moved on and by 2001, Chrysler pulled the plug on what was, by then, a dated and forgotten model.
The Liberty never quite found its groove. It was neither fish nor fowl, not quite the rugged off-roader nor the smooth on-roader that the market has largely migrated to. So, Jeep hit the “Reset” button and set out to do it again, wisely deciding to abandon the Liberty name and bring back Cherokee. But is it a fit? That’s what we set out to discover when he headed into the hills north of Los Angeles for a good day’s driving in the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee.