When looking at the new 2019 Jeep Cherokee, one may wonder how a solid axle XJ from a few decades ago has evolved into a smooth-riding, fully independent suspension and a seemingly less off road capable vehicle. From our experience, the new Cherokee is much better on road and is every bit as capable and possibly even more capable than its predecessor.
For 2019, the Jeep Cherokee has a few exterior updates that are different from the 2018 model, making it more attractive and lighter. The bumpers, LED head lights, LED tail lights, hood and liftgate have all been reworked.
These updates were needed and, while small, have greatly improved how the vehicle looks.
The Cherokee is a small vehicle and it’s surprising to think that Jeep makes two other SUVs that are smaller than it, the Compass and the Renegade. Even with its relatively low ride height, it’s obvious the Cherokee has great approach and departure angles, something very important for those leaving the pavement.
To help compensate for the small size, there are factory mounted roof rails on top. These provide a way to secure extra or oversized cargo for those who need it. With a 150 pound capacity, a roof top tent can be safely mounted.
The interior of the limited model is nicely appointed with leather seats. The giant panoramic sunroof made the interior feel very open. Seating can be a little tight when filled with four adults and a car seat, but for two kids and two adults it’s roomy enough. Putting a car seat behind the driver still allows a comfortable, though not optimal, seating position for someone 6-feet tall.
The Uconnect system is wonderful, it connects quickly and is a breeze to use, when it’s working properly. We did have one issue with it showing a blank screen for a few hours. Restarting the vehicle didn’t fix the issue, it just seemed to start working again on its own.
There are many features, like heated and cooled seats, that can only be accessed through the Uconnect system, meaning that when the system is down, a lot of functionality is lost.
The 9-speaker Alpine sound system was excellent with crisp sound and clean bass. There were plenty of media ports throughout for all the passengers, including a 115v outlet. The hands free rear liftgate was a nice addition for putting items in the back.
While our test vehicle was equipped with the 3.2 liter v-6, putting out 271 horsepower and 239 lb-ft of torque, there is another option for 2019. That is the 2.0 liter I-4 turbo with 270 horsepower and 295 ft-lb of torque. Both of these engines are paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission.
The v-6 is not a powerhouse, but it doesn’t need to be. It felt about right for the needs of the Cherokee, and returned an excellent 28 mpg of mixed highway, city and dirt road driving. The EPA estimates are 19 city and 27 highway with a combined rating of 22, so we were pleasantly surprised when we significantly exceeded that.
In our driving experience, the 9-speed auto is one or two gears too many for this vehicle. It shifts smoothly but doesn’t stay in a single gear for much time, even when cruising. Any throttle adjustment causes the vehicle to shift, and when really getting on the gas to pass another vehicle, there is a long wait while the engine downshifts three or four gears.
Taking the Cherokee off-highway proves that it’s very much still a Jeep. Our test model was equipped with 4wd but didn’t have a low range. We didn’t get into any rough terrain, but we climbed a few boulders just to see how well the EBLDs (Electronic Brake Lock Differential) worked.
We were impressed to say the least. The system works quicker than most systems from other manufactures, and essentially gave it the feeling of having locked the differentials, making a cross axle climb up a boulder quite simple. There were cheers from onlookers who didn’t expect the little jeep to make that climb.
On road it remains flat in the corners and has a smooth ride which absorbs bumps gracefully. The turning radius is quite small, making parking a breeze.
It also has a self-park feature, which sometimes saw the open parking spaces and other times didn’t. In most cases it was easier to park without the parking system. It also has adaptive cruise control that can make complete stops and lane keep assist.
It was relaxing at times to set the cruise control and let it deal with rush hour traffic while simply making the proper steering inputs. Despite it’s great capabilities, this is not a self-driving vehicle and shouldn’t be treated as such.
The base price for a 2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4×4 is $33,620. Ours came equipped with many extras bringing the total price to $40,040, including the destination charge. The add-ons were:
- Technology Group ($995)
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Advanced Brake Assist
- Auto High Beam
- Full Speed Collision Warning with Crash Mitigation
- LaneSense® Lane Departure Warning
- Parallel and Perpendicular (Un)Park w/Stop System
- Rain-Sensitive Windshield Wipers
- Side Distance Warning
- Luxury Group ($1,195)
- Second-Row Fore/Aft Adjusting Seats
- Carpeted Cargo Area Trim Panels
- Foot-Activated Hands-Free Power Liftgate
- Tonneau Cover
- Ventilated Front Seats
- CommandView® Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof ($1,295)
- 9 Amplified Speakers with Subwoofer ($695)
- Uconnect 4C NAV with 8.4-Inch Display ($795)
Overall, the Jeep Cherokee is an excellent CUV or SUV, whatever you prefer to classify it as.
The interior is comfortable and nicely appointed. It has a smooth and confident ride on the pavement, and it’s very capable off-highway and in inclement weather.
Jeep created a winner with the Cherokee and its sales numbers reflect that.
Matthew Barnes is an experienced towing expert. He works as a mechanical engineer and his day job involves testing a variety of vehicles while towing trailers of all types and sizes. Matt shares his knowledge by writing for automotive news outlets in the evenings. When he’s not working he can be found spending time in the great outdoors with his family. He enjoys camping, hiking, canyoneering, and backpacking. Whenever possible he spends time riding in or on any power sports vehicle he can find and claims he can drive anything with a motor, which probably isn’t true.