Jeep Cherokee 2019 Video Review

Jeep Cherokee 2019 Video Review By Auto Critic Steve Hammes

To spot a Jeep Trailhawk model just look for the red tow hooks. These are Trail Rated trims designed for the highest level off-road capability.  And here on the newly restyled Cherokee, ruggedness and luxury merge to produce one impressive SUV.

When the Liberty died about 5 years ago, Jeep resurrected the Cherokee name for its smaller SUV and took the design in a completely new direction; a squinty-eyed, Italian-flavored, unibody sport-ute that has sold very well for the brand since its 2014 inception.

Though a complete redesign isn’t slated until 2021, this mid-cycle freshening is more thorough than is typical sporting a reworked front fascia with a closer resemblance to its similarly sized stablemates, optional new 2.0-liter turbo, improved 9-speed automatic, more usable cargo space and next generation infotainment. Slotted between the Compass and Grand Cherokee in Jeep’s lineup, the 2019 Cherokee starts at $26,940.  That’s if you want a base 2-wheel drive Latitude model.  This Trailhawk Elite 4X4 however starts at about $10 grand more and sits here heavily optioned at $41,245.

This is the model for you if more serious off-roading is in your plans. It’s designed with significantly improved approach, breakover and departure angles, off-road suspension, 1” lift, skid plates, the most versatile 4-wheel drive system with low range and locking rear differential, 17” all-terrain tires and tow hooks.  The standard engine here is the Pentastar V6 but my tester is upfitted to the new twin-scroll turbo-4 producing a nearly identical 270 horsepower but a considerably more 295 pound-feet of torque. It costs $500.  If you stick with Jeep’s recommendation of using premium gas it’ll actually cost you more to fuel it despite it being slightly more efficient and using an engine stop-start system – rated at 22mpg in combined driving.  It certainly breathes life into the powertrain with quicker acceleration but the somewhat on/off nature of the turbo-fed engine doesn’t lend itself to the smoothness I prefer even though the 9-speed has been recalibrated for refinement.  There’s also a sport mode affecting the transmission.

This Cherokee defends its $40k price tag quite well. There is a true premium feel to both its cabin and the way it drives. The new turbo provides some zip with a snarly Fiat soundtrack but I think I’d prefer the linear nature of the V6, at least in this Trailhawk model. There’s no on board navigation but otherwise this Elite trim is fully stocked both in terms of safety features and comfort items – not to mention its broad off-road technologies. I really like the complete offering.

The Selec-Terrain system is very easy to use with a number of pre-configured setups for whatever is your traversing including the everyday Auto setting and then when you’re getting after it on the trail there’s a speed selectable hill decent control and a crawl mode to go along with the other computerized goodies. With this 2.0, the Cherokee’s crawl ratio is raised to rock worthy 51: 1.  And if you’re wondering, it can also be flat-towed.  On and off-road, the Trailhawk Elite delivers a highly competent, near-luxury driving experience with a beautifully balanced level of comfort and confidence.

This is accentuated by an interior that has gone to finishing school with soft Nappa leather seating; super comfortable with heating and ventilation. A resculpted center console gets shifted rearward freeing up more space for your smartphone.  It’s also nice and quiet in here, feature content is at a luxury level, the electronics and displays are some of the best you’ll see, and there’s an attention to detail that is becoming a hallmark of the Jeep brand.  From auto high beams to auto parking, the $995 Technology Group adds all of the relevant driver assistance features.  Remote start, a heated steering wheel, plenty of USB ports – this Cherokee does not hold back.  And responding to customer feedback, the rear cargo area has been widened by 3” for easier transport of items like golf bags.  Just a heads-up – the optional panoramic sunroof is a great addition as long as you don’t regularly transport tall people because it does infringe upon headroom.  Otherwise, the rear seats offer up big space.

Though I prefer the more elegant styling of the non Trailhawk models, the 2019 Cherokee is indeed a winner that’ll undoubtedly perform well in today’s SUV-happy marketplace.

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