The Jeep Cherokee lineup gets a facelift this year that brings it more in line with the rest of the brand’s offerings while improving rear cargo room. It also gets a new 2.0-liter direct-injected, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine for improved performance.
There are five available trims, so Jeep makes sure there’s a version of the Cherokee that suits your needs. Whether you’re taking a minimalist approach, want something with a bit more luxury, or plan to head off-road, there’s a Jeep Cherokee that fits the bill.
We spent some time with the Cherokee Trailhawk Elite which is the off-road focused version of the lineup with plenty of luxury amenities thrown into the mix. Just because you plan to go off-road doesn’t mean you don’t want to be comfortable, too.
Off-road goodies include front suspension, underbody, and fuel tank skid plates for added protection along with two rear and one front tow hook for getting you – or the other guy – out of tough spots. Both the Trailhawk and Trailhawk Elite feature better ground clearance with a 29.9-degree approach angle, 22.9-degree breakover angle, and 32.3-degree departure angle.
An off-road suspension system along with Jeep Active Drive II and Jeep Active Drive Lock are standard. This equips the Cherokee Trailhawk with full-time four-wheel drive that automatically engages when it detects slippage. There’s also a four-wheel drive low mode for improved traction at low speeds and mechanical rear axle lock.
Rounding out the Cherokee Trailhawk’s capability is the Selec-Terrain traction management system. Choose auto, snow, sport, sand/mud, or rock modes to optimize the system to current road conditions.
While a 3.2-liter V6 engine with 271 horsepower and 239 lb-ft of torque is standard, our test car came equipped with the new 2.0-liter direct-injected, turbocharged 4-cylinder with 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. That’s basically a match on horsepower, but a big improvement on torque.
It’s a responsive engine that goes a long way toward proving that today’s turbocharged 4-cylinders offer better performance than V6 engines. There was a time when people shied away from anything less than a V8 because they wanted all the power. The same thing is true of V6 engines today, but if you’re nervous about a 4-cylinder, then you need to take one out for a test drive.
The Cherokee Trailhawk Elite is not a small vehicle. Yes, it’s smaller than the Grand Cherokee, but it’s still a roomy SUV with plenty of space for five passengers and 54.9 cubic feet of cargo if you flip the rear seats down. The new 4-cylinder, which is paired to a smooth 9-speed automatic transmission, makes the Cherokee easy to manage whether it’s city traffic or merging onto a congested highway at rush hour.
This is part of what makes the Cherokee such an appealing choice, especially in the Trailhawk trims. It has everything you need to go off-road, but still has the power you need for highway driving and the smooth, well-mannered ride to match. It’s as comfortable for a family road trip as it is capable for an off-road excursion.
Standard features on the Trailhawk include dual-zone automatic air conditioning, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, and Uconnect infotainment with an 8.4-inch touchscreen. There’s also hill start assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross path detection.
The Elite package, which runs $2,995 adds numerous comfort and convenience features. These include heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, power driver and front passenger seat with 4-way lumbar, leather-trimmed bucket seats, and remote start.
The 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk offers a great combination of off-road capability and on-road manners not often found in an SUV. Pricing starts at $33,320.