By Joe Bruzek on May 20, 2014
The 2014 Jeep Cherokee's standard cargo module rail system is one of the features we wanted to use more thoroughly before deciding if it's gimmicky or if it's a useful way to keep cargo in check while on the go in our long-term test car. Summer is just around the corner, so it's a perfect time to test Jeep's accessory collapsible cooler designed for the Cherokee's rear rail system.
Jeep sells the cooler for $60; it's a fairly typical collapsible cooler with a padded shoulder strap, zipper top and soft flexible walls. The key difference between what you'll find on the shelf of a camping store and this cooler is the hook and strap for the Cherokee's standard cargo rail system. It's supposed to keep the cooler planted in the cargo area when on the go. We loaded up the cooler with ice and drinks to give it a whirl.
The cooler is sizable at 14 inches tall, 16 inches long and 13.75 inches wide. A 7-pound bag of ice, six 12-ounce cans of soda and four 16.9-ounce bottles of water fit inside, and we still had a considerable amount of space left over for more drinks, ice or food.
Securing the cooler to the cargo rail is easy: simply slide the plastic hook over the top rail, then wrap the additional cooler strap around the bottom rail for added security. The hook doesn't fit squarely enough to lock into place with total confidence, however, so there's a little wiggle even when attached. It will still require a big jolt to displace this cooler when loaded with ice and drinks while connected to the rail. After a day at the beach or tailgate lot, the empty cooler folds into a much more manageable size to fit at the bottom of a closet or on a garage shelf.
We also performed a rudimentary drink temperature test to see how cold the cooler kept the cans and bottles overnight. Drink temps were respectable after being left in the cooler for 18 hours while sitting in the back of a car with outside temps hovering around 80 degrees during the day and dropping to 65 degrees at night. The soda's temperature measured 53 degrees in the morning with an infrared temperature gauge and the water at 53.6 degrees. Room-temperature drinks were 74.9 and 74.8 degrees, respectively. Again, nothing scientific, but the drinks were cool enough to be refreshing after sitting that long.
A traditional cooler secured in the back of the Cherokee with a few bungee cords or rope wrapped around the rail system could accomplish the same goal as Jeep's accessory cooler. Still, the simplicity of the module rack that's already standard on all 2014 Jeep Cherokees makes the Jeep cooler a nice addition if you're a Cherokee owner who doesn't already have a cooler this size.
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears
Road Test Editor Joe Bruzek covers Cars.com’s short-and long-term fleet of test cars and drives a 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Email Joe