2014 Jeep CherokeeConsumer Reports has just rendered its verdict on two of the more important cars to launch this year - the Mazda3 and the Jeep Cherokee. Considering the value a "Recommended" rating carries with the public and the viciously competitive markets these two cars compete in, Consumer Reports' view could have some impact on their initial success.

For Mazda, that's a good thing. CR spoke quite highly of the Zoom-Zoom brand's compact sedan and hatch, testing both models, and citing the excellent fuel economy and snickety-snack manual shifter as high points. Downsides to the 3 included a ride that is agile but "nervous," a bit too much noise and a cramped back seat. Still, the 3 was good enough to earn its place in the ranks of the "Recommended."

The Jeep didn't fare quite so well, with CR calling the polarizing CUV "half-baked." Although both engines were tested, the magazine called the 2.4-liter four-pot underpowered and its nine-speed automatic unrefined and unresponsive. That's particularly damning, considering the 9AT's role in future Chrysler products, including the extremely important 200. Overall, the Cherokee missed out on the coveted "Recommended" rating.

Hop over to Consumer Reports' website for a full rundown on both cars, and let us know if you agree with the ratings.

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