"Any transmission updates available?" is one of the first questions I ask when taking Cars.com's 2014 Jeep Cherokee long-term test car into the dealership for service. The nine-speed automatic transmission's operation has been an annoyance in an otherwise easygoing 12,000 miles. From the start, harsh upshifts have rocked the car from 2nd to 3rd gear, and the transmission sometimes struggles to find the right passing gear in our four-cylinder Cherokee with all-wheel drive.
Related: More on Cars.com's Long-Term Fleet
Last month, we had Jeep technicians plug in the latest transmission control module update, "68241129AB," while we were at the dealership having a second-row power outlet replaced. It had been inadvertently yanked out of place somehow. Chrysler spokeswoman Wendy Orthman said in an email about the transmission update, "It is to enhance throttle responsiveness and shifting smoothness across all nine gears. Some customers may notice the improvements, to others it may be seamless."
Our staff piloted the Cherokee for three weeks with the latest transmission programming. Did it do the trick? Read our staff's impressions below.
Most significant changes: Stop-start now standard on V-6-equipped models
Price change: Prices increase $100 on all models except the Sport trim
On sale: Since late July
Which you should buy, 2014 or 2015? 2015
Jeep's all-new Cherokee managed to make a big splash in the crowded compact SUV field with a combination of distinctive styling, commendable on-road performance and off-road capability, a choice of three four-wheel-drive systems and a roomy, well-finished interior. That helped its appeal with Jeep loyalists who value off-road prowess as well as those who drive only on smooth pavement but want the versatility of a small SUV.
Jeep delayed the launch of the 2014 Cherokee for a couple of months while it tried to fix shift quality issues with the also-new nine-speed automatic transmission, and we aren't convinced it is fully sorted out based on our long-term Cherokee test vehicle.
Aside from the transmission, though, there is much to like about the Cherokee, which offers a broad portfolio of safety features, a voice-operated infotainment system, interior furnishings that are a cut above and family-friendly utility. Because it was all-new for 2014, there are few changes to the 2015, which just recently went on sale.
It's been a quiet 824-mile month for our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee tester that's otherwise averaged around double that through the first five months of ownership. Putting around the city has slightly dinged the average fuel economy by .12 mpg as the Cherokee takes a breather from the onslaught of road trips encountered in its first few months. Even with that drop, the four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive Cherokee is averaging very close to its 24 mpg combined rating.
The Problem: Due to an insufficient weld, the rear shocks may detach from the vehicle at one end and possibly damage other chassis components or the tire, or result in reduced braking ability, increasing the risk of a crash.
The Fix: Chrysler will begin notifying owners this month, and dealers will inspect the rear shocks and replace any affected ones for free.
What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Chrysler at 800-853-1403, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov for more info.
Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.
As is often the case in these "most-stolen" lists, the vehicles that are most popular with those who buy cars are commensurately popular with those who steal them. Of the top 10 popularly pilfered vehicles on the Des Plaines, Ill.,-based National Insurance Crime Bureau's annual "Hot Wheels" list, seven are also mainstays among the nation's top 10 best-selling cars each month.
Topping the list is the consistently beloved Honda Accord, with nearly 54,000 thefts in the 2013 counting period, followed by the Honda Civic (45,000) and full-size Chevrolet pickup trucks (28,000). Moreover, while No. 8 combines the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee into one listing, it should be noted that these are two entirely separate vehicles, one a crossover and the other a full-size SUV.
By Bill Jackson
The Jeep Cherokee has been put through its paces here at Cars.com as one of our long-term cars, but nobody's taken it out camping until now. To test it, I took it on a 530-mile round trip to a campground and triathlon and found it to be a great tool for the job.
Related: More Long-Term Test Car Coverage
For starters, the Jeep drives like a small SUV, but carries stuff like a larger one. I was expecting to have to make some compromises — compressing my sleeping bag, consolidating some of my other luggage — and I found I really didn't have to.
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