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Unpopular opinion: Jeep Cherokee

The new Jeep Cherokee has gotten a lot of flack for its challenging looks, but it’s one of those cars the Brits call a “Marmite car” (Marmite being the yeast spread you put on your toast) – you either love it or hate it. In fact, most of the motoring press seems to hate the split front headlights and chamfered take on the traditional Jeep grille, while at the same time claiming the rest of the car is bland.

Personally, I disagree – I really like the looks of the Cherokee, especially the Trailhawk off-road version:

 As a matter of fact, I find it one of the best looking midsize SUVs out there. I love that it does not look bland like the CR-V, RAV4 or Tiguan, or plain ugly like the Forrester. Sure, once you take away the nice, big wheels and other off-road accoutrements the car looks pretty sad, but then so does any base version of its competitors.

 

So what do the consumer thing? If you look at the sales figure of Jeep’s midsize SUVs below (first the original Cherokee, followed by two generations of the Liberty, before the new Cherokee came on stream towards the end of 2013) you’ll see that not only is it popular, 2014 sales are actually the highest since 1999. Though of course you have to correct for the fact that 2014 was a good year for cars in general, and because of cheap gas in the US for SUVs in particular. That, and the fact that while the previous generations were old-school ladder-on-frame SUVs, the new monocoque car is aimed squarely at the most popular SUV segment in the US – the midsize “softroader”.