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Mazda's redesigned Mazda3 compact is a sweetheart, while Jeep's touted new 2014 Cherokee is a bit sour, according to Consumer Reports' recent tests.

Says CR: "The Mazda3 has long been a favorite among our staff, and among our readers, for its balance of frugality and fun. We're pleased to report that the redesigned Mazda3 carries on that proud tradition."

The Jeep Cherokee SUV, CR says, "is a contemporary design that had potential, but despite a few high points, overall we found it half-baked."

Mazda3 specifics:

The 2-liter engine was in both the publication's test vehicles. In the four-door sedan, iti was equipped with "a smooth automatic transmission" and registered "an excellent 33 mpg overall-the best of any compact we've tested that's not a hybrid or a diesel."

The publication's hatchback with manual had "one of the slickest shifters in the business."

Both versions, CR says, are "agile in everyday driving."

But the rear seat is cramped, "the car is rather loud, and the ride is a bit nervous."

Still, the Mazda3 "scores among the higher-ranking compact cars, and it earns our recommendation."

Jeep Cherokee specifics:

Cherokee is heavy and the base four-cylinder "is underpowered and not very fuel efficient, plus the nine-speed automatic is unrefined and can be unresponsive at times," CR says.

The optional 3.2-liter V-6 "is a much better choice," in CR's view.

Cherokees "benefit from a quiet cabin, ease of access, and a solid, substantial feel. But handling isn't particularly agile, and the ride is rather choppy.

"Ultimately, the Cherokee is an uneven package, and it scores too low to be recommended."

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