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2021 Jeep Cherokee Latitude – 


I’ve learned over the years that many people have “I will own a Jeep” on their bucket list. Of course, the Jeep model that usually tops that list is the iconic Wrangler, the Jeep that harkens back to World War II.  But, there is another Jeep model that has its own fan base – the Jeep Cherokee.  The original Cherokee hit American highways back in 1974, appealing to people wanting a Jeep that had more cargo room than the tiny CJ-5, the model which evolved into today’s Wrangler.

That early Cherokee exterior had sharp angles, was tall and boxy with a greenhouse that provided lots of visibility to the driver; streamlined aerodynamics wasn’t a big concern.  And it was tough, like a Jeep should be.  That boxy iteration disappeared from dealer showrooms back in 2001. The Cherokee nameplate took a hiatus, and the round-shouldered Liberty made its appearance.  And then everything changed when Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne took the reins of Chrysler and things started looking up again for the Jeep brand.  

The reimagined and completely redesigned Jeep Cherokee came back to dealer showrooms in the summer of 2013.  Looking nothing like the previous boxy versions, the all-new Cherokee was built on a shared Chrysler-Fiat platform and the exterior was decidedly softer with a far more organic look. If you were a fan of the old model’s exterior (as I was) the new Cherokee was not to your liking. However, after spending a week in the summer of 2014 with a Cherokee TrailHawk on the streets of New York City (where the pavement is rougher than most off-road trails) I came back as a confirmed fan; the new Cherokee is for real.

Recently, I spent a week with a 2021 Slate Blue Pearl Jeep Cherokee Latitude LUX 4×4, with an MSRP (window sticker) of $36,355.  This was powered by a 271 hp, 3.2 liter V6 mated to a nine-speed transmission. Fuel economy with the 3.2 liter engine is fairly impressive with an estimated 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway – not too shabby for a 4×4.  I didn’t take this Cherokee off-road during my test drive, but I have been on rough trails with other Cherokees and can attest to this Jeep’s off-road credentials. 

The Latitude LUX trim is all-new for the 2021 Cherokee, packaging a load of standard premium amenities that should appeal to buyers looking for just a bit more luxury in their new Jeep.  Some of these amenities include Nappa leather seats, heated front seats, premium-wrapped heated steering wheel, remote start, windshield wiper deicer, and the latest Uconnect system with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

The Cherokee is a comfy ride that maintains the ability to go off-road when you get the urge.  It’s not a rock crawler (the Jeep showroom has ‘em, but this isn’t one of ‘em…), but it will get you through some nasty terrain and/or weather safely.  Look, if the Cherokee can survive a week driving the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan, it can easily survive a muddy trail without breaking a sweat.

Steve Kursar

Steve is a veteran automotive journalist and former head of Ford Public Relations in its South Central region. He’s a native New Yorker who fell in love with a Texan (and Texas) over 20 years ago. Steve’s been living here happily ever since. His current automotive ‘want’ is an early 3-Series convertible, while his daily driver is a 2006 Toyota Tacoma.

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