A few months, back we had the chance to test drive the 2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited. We really enjoyed our time with the vehicle and you can read about it here.
Recently, Jeep sent us the Trailhawk version of the 2019 Jeep Cherokee, with the same 3.2 liter V6 and 9 speed automatic transmission. This gave us a good opportunity to compare the two similarly equipped vehicles, costing within $200 of each other.
Both 2019 Cherokees we tested came with:
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane keep assist
- 9 speaker audio system with the 8.4 inch Uconnect and GPS setup
- Leather trimmed seats
- Heated and cooled front seats
- Foot activated hands free liftgate
- Rain sensing windshield wipers
- Remote start
The list could go on for quite a long time but suffice it to say that both Jeeps were very well-equipped.
The Limited we tested came with the following features which were not included in the Trailhawk:
- 2nd row fore/aft adjustable seats
- Carpeted trim in cargo area
- Command View dual pane panoramic sunroof
- Bright side roof rails
- Bright dual exhaust tips
- 18-inch rims
On the other hand, the Trailhawk we tested came with the following features not included in the Limited:
- Jeep Active Drive II (which includes a low range gear box and neutral position for flat towing)
- Rear differential locker
- Skid Plates
- Select speed crawl control and hill descent control
- Off-road suspension that is roughly 1 inch taller
- 1 inch taller and 0.7 inch wider (29.5 inches tall x 9.6 inches wide) Firestone Destination A/T tires on 17 inch rims
- Full size spare
While there are many other small things that set the two vehicles apart these are the major players.
Clearly, the Limited is designed to be very friendly on road. It has a smoother ride and also feels quieter than the Trialhawk, which is probably due to the A/T tires on the Trialhawk. In both Cherokees, all the driver aids were well-integrated, but we did find them to be somewhat intrusive at times. When traveling in a group, the adaptive cruise control makes holding a position in a convoy simple and there is almost no need to use the accelerator or brake pedals.
Accelerating into traffic with the 3.2 V6 in the Limited feels just right, but in the Trailhawk it feels underpowered. Also, when cruising on the highway, it is rare for the 9-speed transmission to actually be in 9th gear for the Limited and 8th gear for the Trailhawk. The Trailhawk needs lower gears at the differentials, and the Limited would probably benefit from a slight gear reduction as well.
One major downside to the Trialhawk is the fuel mileage when compared to the Limited. In the Trailhawk, we averaged 20.6 mpg, which is just below the EPA 21 mpg combined estimate, but in the Limited we were able to achieve 26.9 mpg, which was quite a bit higher than the EPA 22 mpg EPA estimate.
The cabins of these jeeps are very similar. The Limited feels more open and airy with the panoramic sunroof. There is plenty of space for five adults, but having four or fewer makes for a much more comfortable ride. The space between the driver’s seat and rear seat is just enough to fit a child car seat in with an average height driver. This might make things cramped for a little one, which usually results in the child kicking the driver’s seat.
Heated and ventilated seats are two of our favorite features. Having a warm seat in the winter and a cool seat in the summer makes driving that much better. No more sweat-covered backs from sitting on hot leather. Both of our test Jeeps had both of these features and they were appreciated.
Having carpeted trim panels in the cargo area of the Limited makes any loose cargo much more quiet when impacting the sides of the cargo area. When loading items into the cargo area, the carpeted panels also act as a buffer. Items that could scratch the plastic in the Trailhawk won’t leave a mark on the carpet in the Limited. The carpet likely reduces road noise in the Limited as well.
As we have previously noted, the Uconnect system is one of the best in the industry and that held true for both of these jeeps. We did have one fluke though in the Limited where the screen remained blank for half of a day. Restarting the vehicle didn’t help, but it fixed itself after lunch and we never had another issue with it.
For those who only occasionally leave pavement, the Limited model will do great. The traction control system in the Limited does a good job of putting power to the wheels. We climbed a large boulder on soft dirt with essentially two wheels in the air. While its abilities are impressive, it does require some wheel slip and a lot of throttle to reach those abilities.
When venturing into rough terrain, the Trailhawk is very controlled and easily managed. Having a rear locker and low range means that there is no drama, even when lifting a wheel or two off the ground. Larger A/T tires make climbing steps and boulders significantly easier in the Trailhawk than in the Limited. Other off-road benefits for those new to off-roading are the hill descent control and the select speed crawl control. Both of these systems act like off-road cruise control and both work well.
In conclusion, both Jeep Cherokees are excellent vehicles. The Limited is a very friendly, more street-oriented Jeep that is fuel efficient and should provide excellent traction in bad weather. The Trailhawk is a very capable off-roader, possibly the most capable in its class, that still has good on-road manners. There are better vehicles for off-road travel and better vehicles for on-road driving, but there are few that combine those capabilities as well as these two Cherokees.
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.