2014 Jeep Cherokee evokes shock, little awe

If there's a valuable design lesson to be learned from the Nissan Juke and Pontiac Aztek, it's that dual headlights rarely work. And Jeep adopted that look not just on any name plate, but on an all-new Cherokee — a classic brand with a loyal following for its utilitarian, no-nonsense style despite its absence from production since 2001.

Not surprisingly, reactions to its dramatic resurrection, which has been called "contemporary" by Chrysler/Jeep design chief Ralph Gilles, have been brutal, especially in social media.

"God-awful ugly, and a complete disgrace to its forefather... shame on Chrysler," lamented one twitter user.

"Looks like a dinosaur," quipped another.

Earlier this month, frontal shots of the Cherokee were released by Chrysler following leaked photos from the factory. Its official unveiling today at the 2013 New York Auto Show hasn't dulled any of the seething vitriol directed toward the SUV, which is being positioned more as a crossover than a rugged ute to traverse the Yukon. But the Cherokee hasn't completely strayed from its off-roading roots; the Trailhawk trim features a rear locking differential, skid plates, and a ground clearance of 8.7 inches.

The Cherokee's also more technologically advanced than its predecessor, with a rear-axle that can disconnect when its 4x4 capacity isn't being used, contributing to improved fuel economy of up to 31 highway mpg. The base model's 2.4-liter, 184-horsepower engine is 45 percent more fuel efficient than the outgoing Liberty, and the 271 hp, 3.2-liter V-6 touts a best-in-class towing capacity of 4,500 lbs. Plus, its 9-speed automatic transmission is a first on an SUV.

But those advancements have fallen largely on deaf ears, with the focus staying on its futuristic proboscis and high-waist rear. It's even already included in some ugliest cars lists before the hitting showroom floor. Although Jeep is targeting CUV volume sellers such as the Honda CR-V, the Cherokee faces an uphill climb when it arrives in dealers this fall given the competition in the segment, and the initial reactions to the revived badge.

"Time will tell," said Gilles in defense of the Cherokee. Unfortunately, that time may be now.

Follow Yahoo! Autos

More Articles

  • Touring Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso makes us swoon

    Here's an especially pretty car on display at the Geneva Motor Show. It's from Touring Superleggera, and it's called the Berlinetta Lusso.For the past three years, we've been fortunate enough to have the folks at Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera bring something very special to the Geneva Motor Show: the …

  • Have a look at our full roundup of coverage from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.Greetings from Switzerland, where we're neck-deep in new automotive hotness here at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. This expo is always a real treat for car enthusiasts – we get to see a ton of amazing new metal, not to mention all of the funny …

  • Kahn Design has taken the Mercedes G63 AMG 6x6 head on with this, the Flying Huntsman 110 WB 6x6 Concept. Check it out, live from the show floor in Geneva.With apologies to James Tiberious Kirk (and a tip of the hat to Leonard Nimoy), we have to wonder if Mercedes and its high-performance AMG division isn't wailing …

  • The Renault Kadjar is the French brand's latest crossover and makes its debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. The CUV is meant to challenge competitors in Europe like the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota Rav4.Not every model on display at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show is made from meticulously formed carbon fiber and packs a high-performance …

  • 2016 Honda Civic Type R shows sometimes the grass really is greener

    The latest Honda Civic Type R being unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show is a 306-horsepower, turbocharged hot hatch that is capable of lapping the Nordschleife in 7:50. At least for now, it remains exclusive to European buyers.The newly unveiled Honda Civic Type R at the Geneva Motor Show seems like a cruel trick being played …