Engine: 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder
Output: 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 9-speed auto
US Fuel Economy (MPG): 21 city, 29 hwy, 24 combined (turbo/4WD)
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 11.2 city, 8.0 hwy, 9.8 combined (turbo/4WD)
US Price: Starts at $25,440, est. $35,065 as tested
CAN Price: Starts at $28,140, $47,640 as tested
(All pricing includes destination)
In a segment where a car is competing with such strong or popular crossovers as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Escape, and Nissan Rogue, a CUV needs to bring something different to the table and the Jeep Cherokee achieves that, but it isn’t perfect. Here is a quick overview of the pros and cons of the 2019 Jeep Cherokee.
2019 Jeep Cherokee Pros and Cons
New Looks: I always thought the previous Cherokee was one of the ugliest SUVs out there with its bulbous rear end and squinty headlights that sat unnaturally high on the sloping, pointy grille. The refreshed Cherokee fixes this problem with a tweaked front end that brings bigger headlights and a stronger and more upright grille, which makes the Cherokee look more generic, but is still a much more attractive solution. It definitely looks better now, but some people still aren’t sold on its design.
Excellent Infotainment System: UConnect continues to be one of the best infotainment systems on the market. Not only is the touchscreen responsive, but the software is fast, the menus are intuitive, the graphics are modern, and the functionality is fantastic. With a mix of physical buttons and touchscreen controls, it’s one of the easiest systems to use and requires almost no learning curve to figure out.
New Engine: Interestingly, the Cherokee is available with three engines, which is unique in this segment. Most other CUVs it competes with have one or two engine options. The newest engine is a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. It also gets a very smooth stop/start system. It’s so smooth that I kept it on when in most other cars, I end up turning it off because the stop/start is too jarring. In terms of performance, the new turbo engine feels pretty good especially with strong off-the-line acceleration (it also feels a bit too jumpy, actually). Highway passing power is also decent, but it’s by no means fast and the four-cylinder sounds pretty coarse.
This engine is the one most people should get, as it’s the most powerful and also gets the same fuel economy as the slower four-cylinder engine (21 mpg city, 29 highway, 24 combined for AWD models or 11.2 L/100 km city, 8.0 highway and 9.8 combined). Cherokees also get a capless fuel filler, which is a great touch, but the turbo model does require premium fuel.
ALSO SEE: 2018 Jeep Compass Review
Two naturally aspirated engines are also carryover options: a standard 2.4L four-cylinder with 180 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.2L V6 with 217 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque. The standard engine is quite lackluster and the V6 should only be picked if you plan on towing or off-roading with your Cherokee. Regardless of engine or driven wheels (you can still get a front-drive Cherokee), the Cherokee gets a 9-speed automatic transmission that works well enough. I didn’t experience any problems with the transmission.
Sloppy Driving Dynamics: In general, the driving dynamics of the Cherokee are much softer than some of its competition. The steering is remarkably numb and there are large dead zones in the center and at each turn lock. The suspension feels soft, so it’s really good at soaking up bumps in the road, but that means it leans a lot in the corners. I also really don’t like the pedal feel — both the throttle and brake pedal don’t give any feedback and aren’t the most responsive, which makes the Jeep harder to drive smoothly. The brake pedal also has to be pushed down full force while stopped or you will creep forward — I’d appreciate more slack so I could loosen my grip on the brake while stopped and still stay stopped. Bottom line, it’s kind of squishy all around. CUVs like the Ford Escape feel much tighter all around and better to drive.
Normally driving dynamics like this would be a big n0-no for me, but these softer dynamics will help the Cherokee perform off-road. The softer steering means that the rocks you’re driving over won’t whip the steering out of your hands, and the softer suspension will make the ride more comfortable while driving over dirt roads. If you want to off-road, however, you’ll want the Trailhawk version. If you don’t plan on off-roading ever, the Jeep Cherokee isn’t a great vehicle to drive, so you might want to look elsewhere.
ALSO SEE: 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Review
While not the most hardcore Jeep, it has four driving modes: auto, sport, snow and mud. It is important to note that this model doesn’t have a locking diff, which other less Jeepy competitors like the RAV4 do.
Uncomfortable Seating: Me and any passenger I had in the front seat could not get comfortable no matter how we adjusted the seats. The seats are very upright and they feel like they’re pushing you forward, so it feels very unnatural and ends up being uncomfortable.
The steering wheel is also too thick in some parts, making it uncomfortable to hold at 10 and 2. The gear selector is also comically large and doesn’t feel comfortable to use.
Interior Could be Better: I counted maybe six different trim finishes and colors in the interior of the Cherokee. There’s a lot of hard plastics used throughout and the different colors and finishes make the interior look too busy and like it was designed by people living on different continents. The result is that it doesn’t look like a cohesive design. There are also strange cubbies that don’t end up being very useful, so they just end up making the dash look busy.
FCA Has a Questionable Reputation for Reliability: During my time with the Cherokee, the reverse camera randomly stopped working for no apparent reason and then suddenly started working again after I drove it a couple more times. It could just be a fluke, but I haven’t experienced this in any other car I’ve ever driven. FCA is still dealing with their bad reputation for reliability and quality, even though it has made improvements, so it’s something to keep in mind.
The Verdict: 2019 Jeep Cherokee Review
If you need a crossover of this size and go off-roading from time to time, the Jeep Cherokee is obviously the most capable and you’ll want the Trailhawk version. But if you just needed a crossover to drive to work or commute day to day and don’t plan on venturing into the dirt, there are better crossovers out there for your money.
Discuss this article on our Jeep Cherokee Forum