The 2019 Jeep Cherokee does what a lot of us want to do this year: it loses weight and performs better. It also gets a new turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and new exterior styling. What it doesn’t get is any reduction in off-road capability.
The new Cherokee, which comes in five trims, will start at $23,995 and top out at $37,775.
Cherokee trims available include Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, Overland and Trailhawk. All are available in 4WD. My test Jeep was the Trailhawk, which is the trail-rated version that meets strict Jeep guidelines for off-road performance.
Engineers working on the 2019 Cherokee were told to change some elements, but not to sacrifice any of the vehicle’s performance on or off the road. New for 2019, the Chereokee will have all LED headlights and fog lights, a capless fuel filler (no more gas-smelling hands), more cargo room and a hands-free liftgate that can be operated with the tap of a foot.
But the biggest change for the 2019 model is the new available engine. The 2.0-liter direct-injection turbocharged Inline 4-cylinder develops 270 horsepower and an impressive 295 lb.-ft. of torque, giving the Cherokee the fuel efficiency of a 4-cylinder with the power of a 6-cylinder.
The standard engine in the Cherokee is a 2.4-liter naturally-aspirated Tigershark engine that delivers 180 horsepower and 170 lb.-ft. of torque. A 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 that kicks out 271 horses and 239 lb.-ft. of torque is also available. All three engines are mated to a smooth-shifting 9-speed automatic transmission.
My test Cherokee had the V6 and was EPA rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city, 24 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined.
The Cherokee keeps its patented off-road drive systems: Active Drive I, Active Drive II and Active drive with lockers. There’s also a neutral position for flat towing. Jeep’s Selec-Terrain traction control system also remains with five settings for auto, snow, sport, sand/mud and rock. Selec-Terrain also includes Selec-Speed Control with Hill-descent control, both of which are like cruise control for off-roading.
The Trailhawk delivers loads of 4x4 capability with a 29.9-degree approach angle, a 22.9-degree breakover angle and a 32.2-degree departure angle. Ground clearance is 8.7 inches, the Trailhawk can ford water up to 20 inches deep and can tow up to 4,500 pounds.
Inside the cabin, the Cherokee gets the fourth-generation Uconnect infotainment system, which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Uconnect is one of the most intuitive connectivity systems on the market today, with crisp and clear graphics on either a 7-inch or 8.4-inch touchscreen. The larger touchscreens offer pinch, tap and swipe capability.
Headroom in the front seats is 39.4 inches and in back it’s 38.5 inches. Rear seat legroom is good at 40.3 inches. Cargo space is 54.9 cubic feet.
During my week in the Trailhawk, I didn’t have the opportunity to take it any further off-road than a gravel driveway, but I know this trail-rated Jeep is capable of some serious off-the-beaten-path adventures. I also had a chance to drive the 4WD Latitude Plus trim with the new 2.0-liter engine along the twisting mountain roads outside of Los Angeles during the launch of the Cherokee back in January. I came away impressed by the Cherokee’s on-road performance. The Cherokee stayed flat in when diving into sharp curves and had precise, linear steering.
The 2019 Jeep Cherokee has not yet been safety tested, but comes equipped with eight standard airbags and a host of standard and available safety technology systems like forward collision warning, a lane departure warning system, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and rear cross traffic detection.
2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Elite 4X4
$33,320 ($39,450 with Elite package, options & freight)
EPA mileage estimates:
18 mpg city/24 mpg highway/21 mpg combined
Estimated highway range: