The first howls of disappointment came immediately after the current Jeep Cherokee was unveiled at the New York motor show in 2013. Jeez, said the off-road purists, what has Jeep done to the Cherokee’s face?
What’s the design of the headlights all about, they asked. Okay, it’s got the Jeep trademark seven-slat grille, it’s gonna be good off-road, but the front end is different from everything else in the Jeep line-up.
Critics compared the look to the 2001 Pontiac Aztek, a failed crossover described as “utterly hideous” and listed by the Los Angeles Times as one of the 10 worst cars ever sold in America.
Back in 2013, Fiat Chrysler design chief Mark Allen said that management under CEO Sergio Marchionne wanted visual boldness in the new Cherokee. “The mood was to move aggressively with this vehicle,” said Allen.
“If you look at the face of the vehicle, there is no corner on it. Splitting the lights, and moving the lights around there, allowed us to really rake back the front of the vehicle. It’s got to stand on its own. It’s got to be modern. It’s got to go on for a while.”
Now Jeep has decided that four years of the Cherokee’s polarising front end is enough. These spy pictures of the updated 2018 Cherokee show it has a new snout, similar to that of the Grand Cherokee and Compass.
The two-tier lighting set-up has gone, replaced by single main lamps with hockey-stick LED running lights. A more upright grille sits above a slim lower air intake.
The rear is largely unchanged, save for new brake lights in keeping with the theme set by Compass. The number plate is now mounted on the tailgate, rather than the bumper. Interior change are equally minor.
The new-look Cherokee is expected to go public at next month’s Los Angeles motor show, although it has been said that Jeep might sideline it for the time being in favour of a publicity blitz for the new 2018 Wrangler.
Already a leaked owner’s manual for next year’s Wrangler has found its way online, firstly on the website jwranglerforums. It reveals that the new off-roader will have a sliding power roof, along with traditional soft top and hardtop options. The power roof can be opened or closed at speeds up to 100km/h.
The manual also mentions a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and carry-over 3.6-litre V6, but it doesn’t give any mechanical details.