The 2017 Jeep Cherokee Latitude has a lot to live up to — just by virtue that it wears a Jeep badge.
The DNA of the legendarily tough marque was forged in the crucible of World War II, when the original Willys models ferried our service men and women over battle-scared territory that would give even an experienced hiker pause. After the war, many of the models which didn’t remain in the military motor pool actually entered the civilian population, where their mettle was tested by farmers in the heartland, who used a variety of attachments to do everything from plow fields, to harvest grain, to split wood. It was an almost-literal example of beating swords into plowshares, and helped establish the sturdy little 4x4s as icons on par with hot dogs and apple pie.
Today, the Wrangler — the great-grandchild of the Willys — is still arguably the most capable off-roader which can be bought anywhere, and almost to a fault, retains the spirit of its ancestors. But over the years, the rest of the Jeep line, including the 2017 Jeep Cherokee Latitude, has fully embraced modern comforts, conveniences, and practicality, while still offering truly athletic capabilities when the pavement ends.
2017 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Exterior:
There’s no way to beat around the bush here: the styling of the latest generation of Cherokees is polarizing. And full disclosure, when we first got at look at the restyled front fascia? We weren’t convinced. Initially we thought its squinting headlights resembled more a person-of-a-certain age trying to decipher an early-bird special menu than the imposing 4x4s we expected from Jeep.
That said? Since its debut in 2011, we’ve come to appreciate the more streamlined, modern look of the Cherokee. It’s a testament to Jeep’s designers that they didn’t feel too constrained by previous models to make such a bold move, and in the years since, it’s become a styling trademark, and at night, even from ten blocks away, you can tell the vehicle coming toward you is a Jeep. The crease in the vertical slats of the grille — which frames a suitably tough-looking mesh — gives it a decidedly high-end feel, and the curves translates well all down the sheet metal to a nicely sculpted rear hatch, while the chunky wheel arches betray there’s nothing soft about the underpinnings.
2017 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Interior:
Our Jeep was equipped with Light Frost Beige cloth seats, which were comfortable enough — and heated up impressively fast in sub-30-degree temperatures — but didn’t have a quite premium feel. And while we thought they complemented the Billet Silver Metallic exterior, they aren’t the color we’d choose, if only because we’re not sure how it would handle the random spills and dirt which come with ownership.
Overall however, the cabin is a nice place to be, and while much of the functionality — including the aforementioned heated seats — is handled via the central 8.4-inch touchscreen, nothing was buried unintuitively deep in the menu. And while the Bluetooth paired effortlessly, we appreciated the prominent the 1/8 audio input, because whether it’s warranted or not, we remain inherently distrustful of wireless witchcraft. There’s also a handy USB charging port in the center console, a 12-volt power outlet, and an SD card slot.
In a whimsical touch, there’s one design of the iconic round-headlight Jeep placed discreetly in the bottom right corner of the windscreen, and another on the hooks in the rear storage area. Every time we saw them, they made us smile.
2017 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Performance:
While we didn’t take this press vehicle to any rugged off-road destinations, we have enough experience with its Moab-tuned, bare-knuckle cousin the Trailhawk to know that the chassis and drivetrain will carry this formidable SUV far further than virtually any buyer will ever, ever take them. During our time with the Latitude, Seattle’s streets were beset by lakes of slush, uncharacteristically pouring rain, and slick patches of ice, but the Jeep felt like it might as well been cruising Miami Beach.
While it’s not difficult to slightly spin the tires — thanks to the delightfully torquey 3.2-liter V-6 — this is a vehicle which will tackle even the nastiest weather with a yawn. While we’re not advocating plunging through puddles, aiming for potholes, or driving across meddlesome parking islands, anyone who did could rest assured this beast isn’t going to care. To aid fuel-economy, the engine is equipped with a stop-start feature, which worked seamlessly during our frequent forays into stop-and-go driving.
2017 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Safety:
In NHTSA crash testing the Jeep Cherokee Latitude scored an overall four out of five stars. On frontal crash tests for drivers and passengers, it received four stars, and it also received four stars during the rollover portion. For front and rear passenger side crashes, it garnered top marks, scoring five out of five stars.
2017 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Overall:
Put simply, the Cherokee Latitude is a proper SUV, so it’s not going to exhibit all the car-like handling characteristics of some of the crossovers it will often be compared to. And that’s fine. Because when the going gets tough, this is a vehicle that’s born and bred to perform. That makes it a good choice for folks who want to actually drive their SUV like its designed to be driven, and aren’t just looking for something which rides high for better visibility. We’re confident that outdoors-loving folks like skiers, hikers, and campers will find lots to love with this comfortable, capable rig, even if it might not be quite as refined in road manners as some more pavement-biased machines. You can check out 2017 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4 is available at your AutoNation Dodge dealer now.