The all new Jeep Cherokee has had a rough start, and it hasn’t even hit dealer lots yet. Starting with leaked photos, that were quickly denied by Chrysler as being the new Cherokee, then un-denied with a “hey just kidding, that is the new Cherokee” statement; the 2014 Jeep Cherokee was officially introduced at the New York Auto show in March to mixed reviews. Mike Manley stood on stage as the Trail Hawk version of the new Jeep drove over a mocked rock trail showcasing the Liberty replacement’s off road ability; confirming its “real Jeep” status. Despite Manley’s claim that the Trail Hawk has already conquered “Hell’s Revenge” in Moab; many enthusiast are still doubting its actual capability, and the choice of the name “Cherokee.” With delays keeping Trail Hawk Cherokees out of enthusiast reach while the vehicle’s right to bear its name is being questioned; why on Earth would you leak that a tricked out street rated SRT version was in the works?
Don’t get me wrong, SRT does great things. Awesomely great things – and the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is an amazing piece of American made machinery. But the Cherokee needs to find its home on the trail before we even start to think about strictly on-road models. What I would really like to see, other than Cherokees on dealer lots, is a Dodge Dart SRT. One with a hatchback option, AWD, and a drivetrain that will leave EVO and R32 owners scratching their heads. The Dart is ready to be unleashed, and gain the attitude of its GTS ancestors.
If the speculated turbo version of the tigershark 2.4L engine is a reality, a 300+ horsepower AWD SRT Dart would easily outperform the Mitsubishi Evolution, VW Golf R, and Subaru WRX STI. With a lot of big names for the Dart to compete with, why is the Cherokee slated for an SRT version when there is nothing comparable in the market for it to compete with? The Cherokee is, on paper at least, more capable off road than anything else that it competes with; a statement that every Jeep model should be able to make with ease. Jeep gave this vehicle the name “Cherokee” to give us something familiar with a drastically new design. They claim that it is just as capible as the pervious XJ Cherokee was. Similarly, the platform sharing Dart was given a familiar name as well; to link the new with the old. Let these two vehicles show us they deserve their names. Get the Jeep dirty – and push the Dart to its limits with an AWD SRT version.