The Jeep Cherokee receives a refresh and it gets all the right tweaks to make it more desirable and more broad reaching in its appeal. Truth is, not everyone is cut out for a Jeep; however, this 2019 makes some nice strides in making a case for a lot more potential customers to embrace the Jeep lifestyle.
The base Jeep Cherokee Latitude has a very attractive starting price of $24,690. While this means you start out with standard cloth seats, and a very base 180-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and minimal bells and whistles, the Cherokee can be upgraded and outfitted to pretty much accommodate the nicest of tastes and the most rugged of terrain.
Like most vehicles of this ilk (and potential ability off-road), there are many trim levels that make it easy to choose the perfect Cherokee for your demanding lifestyle. This year, the Cherokee is available in six trim levels: Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, Overland, Trailhawk, and the new Trailhawk Elite.
Keeping with Jeep’s go-anywhere attitude, there are three four-wheel-drive variants available: Jeep Active Drive I, Jeep Active Drive II, and Jeep Active Drive Lock. The base trim offers an impressive starting point with enough entry-level features to make it quite accommodating. If you’re looking a go-anywhere trail-rated vehicle, you will need to opt for one of the Trailhawk trims.
Previously, the Jeep Cherokee had been a model that, due to some quirky differences in its exterior, were considered by many enthusiasts to be slightly outside the Jeep family design fold. Perhaps this 2019 model has struck the right balance by re-working the front grille into a flatter-faced Jeep-contemporary look that features the familiar vertical Jeep slots.
This new Cherokee is handsome, rugged and it falls into line with the entire Jeep crossover lineup, fitting in between the smaller Compass and big brother Grand Cherokee. I instantly recognized the change in the wider face and longer grille slots, as well as applaud the larger headlamps that impact Cherokee’s front fascia.
New features for the Cherokee are not limited to the visual aesthetics. Look for new standards such as a cap-less fuel door, a lighter liftgate made of composites, as well as an optional hands-free liftgate. These are real lifestyle enhancers and an attention to the details that Jeep has not really needed to go to in order to be successful.
I recently tested the Jeep Cherokee Overland model, which starts at $36,275 and includes the upgraded V6 engine, interior wood trim, heated and ventilated seats, a nine-speaker Alpine premium audio system, a hands-free power liftgate, and a navigation system.
The turbo 2.0-liter engine is available on this trim level if you want it, and Active Drive I and II are also available depending on your willingness to pay. Technology and Trailer Tow packages are available.
A base 180-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is enough to get you around, but with a curb weight of 3,779 lbs., the Cherokee is heavy and my experience with the base powerplant makes me yearn for one of the upgraded versions.
A new 2.0-L turbocharged four-cylinder is available this year and it promises more spirited driving with the delivery of 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. My tester featured the larger 3.2-L V6 and with 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque it is a great fit for the Cherokee’s size and weight. A solid 9-speed automatic transmission is mated to all three engines. My Overland tester managed a respectful 20 city/29 highway fuel economy.
The first thing you notice when you sit inside the Cherokee is a roomier overall feel that starts with the new slim-line center stack. The Cherokee is not especially wide and the formerly oversized console stole valuable room from the front passengers.
Noticeably more upscale for 2019, the Cherokee has a great selection of trim materials and my Overland featured a wonderfully cozy leather seating upgrade. Seats can be power adjusted, heated and cooled, which makes riding in the Cherokee for any time, any season, easily accommodating.
If you’re looking for a dynamic off-road vehicle that maintains composure on pavement, you should be happy with the 2019 Jeep Cherokee.
This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication