When the average person hears the word Jeep, they think of the stellar and iconic Wrangler and dream of off-road adventures or taking the tops and doors off and going cruising. Those are wonderful thoughts indeed. But Jeep makes other vehicles too, some that are just as off road capable as the Wrangler. My tester this week is one such vehicle, although you can’t take the doors or the top off.
The 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is at home in the mud and muck but is also quite comfortable in suburbia. This year, with a mild refresh on looks, it also gets a much-needed upgrade to the engine.
My tester had the new 2.0-liter turbo. This improves upon one of the biggest criticisms of the previous Cherokee. The standard 2.4-liter engine is rather pedestrian at 180 horsepower. But the new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo cranks out 271 hp and is quick off the line. The nine-speed transmission handles the turbo well with no noticeable turbo lag. All in all, this powerplant makes the Cherokee exciting.
With four-wheel drive capability, the Cherokee also has a knob which allows you change the dynamics based upon road conditions, including snow, making this ideal for finicky Midwest weather conditions. The Cherokee is confident in all road conditions, which is one of the biggest assets for the entire Jeep product line.
On looks, the Cherokee sports some updates. This is a good thing as Jeep continues to keep this compact SUV modern and relevant. The waterfall-like grille is still prominent, as expected for all Jeep vehicles. The squinty LED head lamps seem to flow well and balance out the Cherokee’s smallish front end. The back side is somewhat dull, although the large taillights span from the side over the back door and add a modern look. My tester was the Trailhawk trim, which included special badging outside and inside, indicating its off-road readiness.
One of the most noticeable improvements to this model year is on the interior. Jeeps tend to be sparsely appointed, but my tester was nice. It wasn’t lavish, but it certainly had high-quality touchpoints. The aforementioned Trailhawk badging emblazoned the seats and jazzed up the leather seats. The overall layout was clean and well planned. The back seat had ample legroom, for a compact SUV. Two adults would fit comfortably in the back seat, but three would be a stretch.
FCA has one of my favorite infotainment systems and this year, the Cherokee gets an updated 8.4-inch touchscreen to drive the Uconnect system. This system is intuitive and responsive. Additionally, there’s now Apple CarPlay and Android Auto available.
Cargo room increases by three cubic feet this model year. There are now 25.8 cubic feet of storage space behind the second-row. It also gains three inches of space too, making this significantly improved over last year and putting the Cherokee near the top in cargo volume for the compact SUV segment.
There are six trims of the Cherokee with the basic trim Latitude having a starting price just over $25,000. My tester was the top-of-the-line Trailhawk Elite with a starting price of $33,320.
This 4WD compact SUV had optional equipment packages that included a hands-free power liftgate, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control and collision warning system as well as a full sunroof and advanced sound system with GPS navigation and HD Radio. As tested, my Cherokee had a final MSRP of $42,695.
The Cherokee with the small turbo engine has an EPA rating of 20 mpg/city and 26 mpg/highway. For a 4WD vehicle that’s pretty good. I averaged around 22 mpg in a week’s worth of driving. There was snow on the ground during my time in the Cherokee and I felt confident in it.
Jeep is great at branding itself. The name itself resonates with many consumers. With the 2019 Jeep Cherokee, this compact SUV fits quite nicely into the Jeep brand. Even if you never take it off the road, it’s still very much a Jeep.