Love It Or Hate It, The Jeep Cherokee's New Look Isn't Going Anywhere

July 7, 2015

As much as humankind hungers for variety and change, there's a part of us that appreciates consistency. We cherish having our tailgate cookouts at the same spot before every home game, we love the soup that our great aunts make for Thanksgiving, even though it's not as good as it used to be -- all the little traditions that keep the changing world in balance.

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But occasionally, the changes come too fast for some of us. Nowhere is that more evident than in the styling of the beloved Jeep Cherokee -- a marque that's been around for more than four decades (with a few years spent as the Jeep Liberty in America).

When the latest Cherokee design debuted in advance of the 2014 model-year, fans were flummoxed. Many hoped that it would be "fixed" when the Cherokee came up for a mid-cycle refresh around model-year 2017, but according to Auto News, Jeep plans to stick with its controversial design -- at least for now.

Reviewing the 2015 model, our own Bengt Halvorson offered his take on the Cherokee's biggest flaw, its exterior design:

"The Cherokee's wan, thin nose is the first problem. Breaking up its LED running-light eyebrows from the headlamps sounds like a clever idea for cool looks after the sun sets, but in daylight it delivers an Aztek-like effect--a tiered face that looks like it's always being woken up too early. A Jeep should look wide and awake, like it's up before reveille. The essential seven-bar grille looks thinly drawn here; what was once a point of pride for Jeep is now an effete afterthought." 

Anyone who loves the strong, upright grille of a Jeep can understand exactly what he's talking about -- and what's missing from the current Cherokee. Reviews from other critics have run the gamut from even harsher attacks to gushing praise.

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So, why wouldn't Jeep take this opportunity to "refresh" the Cherokee and address some of its critics' concerns. We've got two guesses:

1. The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. The Cherokee's controversial design keeps it a topic of conversation. And like Donald Trump, Jeep understands that bad publicity is far better than no publicity at all.

2. The new design has drawn new customers to the brand. Part of any Jeep's allure is its distinctive design, but that's also what keeps many shoppers away. The dramatic changes introduced in 2014 have caused some would-be Cherokee customers to look again. So what if, as Bengt says, the Cherokee now looks like a Hyundai Santa Fe or Kia Sorento? The current design may have turned off longtime fans, but it's attracted new ones -- quite a lot, in fact. Since it arrived in showrooms in late 2013, it's occasionally outsold Jeep mainstays like the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee. And as it journeys into other areas of the globe, that trend may well continue.

How do you feel about the Cherokee's design, two years down the road? Have you gotten used to it? Or are you counting the days until the complete redesign, sometime around 2020? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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