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Born Again - 2014 Chevy Impala & 2014 Jeep Cherokee

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On: Thu, Apr 4, 2013 at 9:50AM | By: Teddy Field

Born Again - 2014 Chevy Impala & 2014 Jeep Cherokee

A decade ago, the ‘Retro Craze’ brought us some funk-tastic cars like the New Beetle, the PT Cruiser, and the Chevy SSR. They were hot at the time, but their popularity lasted about as long as Chumbawamba’s. Fortunately, reintroducing an iconic model is now approached with a lot more care, and the 2014 Chevy Impala and 2014 Jeep Cherokee have been reimagined with an eye on future. So let’s look into the disco ball, and see what the future holds for these two iconic rides.

2014 Chevy Impala
Chevrolet’s flagship model was introduced in 1958; by 1965, it had set an industry record for selling 1 million units in a single year. As time marched on, the Impala fluctuated between popular and forgettable, with the last few generations falling squarely into the ‘forgettable’ category. But the 2014 Chevy Impala aims to bring some luster back to the Impala name by injecting some much needed modernism into a car that time forgot.

The 2014 Chevy Impala was supposed to be based on a rear-wheel drive platform from Holden, but new CAFE regulations meant that the new Impala would have to be a lot more fuel efficient. To that end, Chevrolet based their redesigned flagship on the FWD chassis found under the new Cadillac XTS, then they filled the spec sheet with a variety of thrifty engines. The base 2.5L Ecotec-4 makes a yawn-inducing 196-hp (this engine will likely find its way to a rental agency near you). Next up the ladder of efficiency is the eAssist mild-hybrid system, which is tied to an Ecotec 2.4L, making a combined 182-hp, along with an estimated 35 mpg on the highway. And last but not least, the General’s direct-injected 3.6L 6-pot is available with a more reasonable 305-hp. In this guise, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala isn’t going to win many stoplight races, but it does have that proper big-car power surge when you ‘stomp on it’.

On paper, the 2014 Chevy Impala doesn’t sound very exciting. But it’s not supposed to be. Chevrolet decided to take its top model back to its roots as a boulevard cruiser. It’s got tall gearing, so you can just ‘walk around’ slow moving traffic. There’s a ton of sound deadening, along with ceiling-mounted microphones to detect intrusive noise. The car’s speakers then emit counteracting sound waves to reduce the audible intrusion. And for a Chevy, the interior of the new Impala is surprisingly luxurious.

Open the door, and you’re greeted by a dual cockpit design, which is trimmed in properly luxurious materials. There’s soft-touch materials all over the dash and door panels. Lots of colorful LCD displays (a 4.2-inch screen comes standard, while an 8-inch screen filled with the MyLink distraction system is optional), and the fancy chrome strip surrounding the cabin glows blue at night. This is one of the nicest interiors ever executed by Chevrolet, and it easily competes with other large cruisers like the Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus, and Hyundai Azera.

2014 Jeep Cherokee
Another recent resurrection is the Jeep Cherokee, a name once associated with the world’s first popular midsize SUV. Except here, it adorns a crossover that looks like... Optimus Prime’s third cousin Jeeptimus.

Officially Introduced at last week’s New York Auto Show, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee is a radical departure from Jeep’s current design language. But that’s because it was largely developed by Fiat, using a modified version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform that also underpins the Dodge Dart. So, it sports a fully independent suspension and electric power steering.

Now, Jeep purists are railing against the new Cherokee’s radical styling, and its car-based platform. But the original Jeep Cherokee was also a uni-body design, and the new one has (in the Trail-Rated Trailhawk trim) an approach angle of 29.8 degrees, a departure angle of 32.1 degrees, and a breakover angle of 23.3 degrees. Other off-road goodies on the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk include standard skid plates, 8.7 inches of ground clearance (one inch higher than the ‘Asphalt Models’), a locking rear diff, and an impressive crawl ratio of 56:1 when equipped with the 184-hp 2.4L Multi-Air engine, or 47.8:1 when equipped with the new 271-hp 3.2L Pentastar V6. In layman’s terms, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee can haul itself up the side of a mountain, and you’d never have to touch the gas pedal.

Mercifully, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk gets a different front fascia, with shaved front bumpers, and a black-out treatment on that fish-mouth lower air dam. But if you want a Mall-Rated model, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited gets lots of chrome detailing (the fish mouth gets the bling treatment), and a luxurious interior with such upscale features as a self-parking system, a heated steering wheel, and your choice of a panoramic glass roof, or a full-length retractable canvas top.

Love it, or hate it, the Jeep Cherokee is back. And it does a good job of offering something for everyone, which should translate into a high sales volume. But as company executive Ralph Gilles tweeted, “Time will tell.”

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