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Originally slated for an unveiling at the New York Auto Show this March, the Cherokee will replace the Liberty, reviving a nameplate that’s been out of use for over 12 years. Featuring two-tiered headlights reminiscent of Nissan Juke and a kinked 7-slot grill, the 2014 Cherokee eschews conventional styling in favor of a fascia that looks like a grimacing Decepticon. It’s built on the same underpinnings as the Alfa Romeo Guilietta, and boasts up to a 45 percent improvement in fuel economy over the Liberty (likely with a selection of either a four-cylinder or a V-6 power plant).
After the Jeep was revealed online, Chrysler design chief Ralph Gilles used Twitter to share a stream of positive reactions; it’s certainly the most daring design Jeep has unveiled in decades. But the old Cherokee was beloved by Jeep enthusiasts, and the brand’s previous attempts to stretch itself with vehicles such as the Compass and Patriot have fallen short of expectations due in part to their roots in passengers’ cars. We’ll know more about the capabilities of the new SUV in a month, but with a polarizing face like this, the Cherokee will need every technical edge it can get.