- The Jeep Cherokee is one of the most iconic names in the automotive industry.
- The original Jeep Cherokee SUV debuted back in 1974 while current fifth-generation model debuted in 2013.
- For 2019, the Cherokee received a new front-end design and some technology updates.
- The Jeep is available with two four-cylinder and one six-cylinder engine options.
- The 2019 Jeep Cherokee starts at $US24,195 while our well-optioned Cherokee Limited 4X4 started at $US33,620. With options and fees included our as-tested price came to $US40,040.
- We were impressed by the Cherokee’s powerful V6, well-designed cabin, and solid infotainment system. However, we weren’t quite enamoured with its ponderous 9-speed automatic transmission and uncomfortable driving position.
These days, crossovers and SUVs are ubiquitous. They can be found on every street in every town in America. However, the modern SUV as we know is a rather recent development in the automotive landscape.
According to Merriam-Webster, the term “sport-utility vehicle” wasn’t used until 1969 and didn’t appear in a car advertisement until 1974.
The SUV advertised in that ad was none other than the original SJ-series Jeep Cherokee.
Over the years, the Cherokee has become one of the iconic nameplates in the automotive industry with its off-roading street cred recognised from the streets of Beijing to the canyons of Utah.
But the Cherokee of today bears little resemblance to its spiritual ancestor. What started out as a rough and tumble two-door off-road wagon is now a polished crossover built on an Italian passenger car platform.
The current fifth-generation Cherokee debuted in 2013 and received a refreshed front fascia ahead for the 2019 model year.
Recently, Business Insider had the chance to spend a week with a Billet Silver Metallic 2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4X4.
For 2019 Jeep Cherokee is available in six different trim levels ranging from the base front-wheel-drive Latitude, which starts at $US24,195, to the four-wheel-drive Overland with a starting price of $US37,775.
Our well-equipped six-cylinder Cherokee Limited 4X4 started at $US33,620 with options and fees pushing the as-tested price to $US40,040.
Here’s a closer look at the refreshed 2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4×4:
The original SJ series Jeep Cherokee debuted back in 1974 as a two-door variant of the brand’s…
The modern Cherokee as we know it arrived for the 1984 model year. The second-generation XJ Cherokee came in a variety of flavours including…
…The two-door Cherokee Chief and…
The XJ received a refresh in 1997 and soldiered on until 2001 when it was replaced by the third generation KJ.
This time around, Jeep decided not to use the Cherokee name in the US. Instead, KJ was badged as the Liberty. However, the KJ would be sold as the Cherokee in many of Jeep’s export markets.
The KJ was replaced by the fourth-generation KK and would retain the Jeep Liberty name. The KK lasted until 2012.
The current fifth-generation KL debuted in 2013 as a 2014 model. It also marked the restoration of the Cherokee name after a decade-long hiatus.
The KL Cherokee is built on an extended version of a Fiat-developed compact car platform that shared with the now-defunct…
…Chrysler 200 and…
…Dodge Dart sedans.
For 2019, KL Cherokee received updated sheet metal and new engine options.
Even though Jeep refers to the Cherokee as a midsize vehicle, its dimensions and pricing put it squarely within the compact crossover segment. Arguably, the most competitive in the industry.
Rivals include the Honda CR-V,…
… Nissan Rogue,…
…Ford Escape, and…
The Cherokee slots in above the Compass and below…
…The mid-size Grand Cherokee.
The Cherokee’s 2019 facelift does away with the controversial front fascia that has graced the KL since 2013. Jeep’s signature seven-slot grille remains, but the pre-facelift KL’s narrow headlights have been replaced with more conventional units.
The new front end is less daring and probably more eye pleasing to the masses. However, I also feel like it took away some of the Cherokee’s style and edginess that set it apart from the pack.
The Cherokee’s side profile remains effectively unchanged. The long front overhang and short rear overhang mirrors that of the pre-face lift design.
In the back, the 2019 Cherokee receives new taillights, a new lightweight rear hatch, and bumper.
Inside, the Cherokee’s cabin is really well sorted out. The buttons and switchgear are well placed and easy to use. Even though the interior felt well put together, the materials used didn’t feel up to the quality of a $US40,000 SUV.
However, I struggled to find a truly comfortable driving position. Even with the adjustable steering wheel and power seats, I never really found my sweet spot.
In front of the driver is a seven-inch TFT digital information display flanked by a pair of traditional analogue gauges. The ready is clear, concise, and easy to navigate using buttons mounted on the left side of the steering wheel.
There is also a pair of buttons mounted on the back of the steering. They allow the driver to change radio stations and toggle between different sources of music. It’s a feature found across the Fiat-Chrysler’s lineup. At first, I found the buttons to be a bit weird, but they are a breeze to use once you figure it out.
The center stack of our Cherokee Limited features an optional 8.4-inch touchscreen, running FCA’s Uconnect 4 infotainment system. The Cherokee comes standard with a seven-inch touchscreen.
Unconnect, as a system, is really growing on me. FCA has really worked hard to sort out which functions need stand along buttons and which require delving into the touchscreen. For example, you access the climate control both through Uconnect and…
… Through center stack-mounted buttons.
However, the heated and cooled seats require a journey into the Uconnect system.
The system also features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
Uconnect can also be had with a built-in navigation system. FCA’s system works well enough, but…
… With Google Maps now available on Apple CarPlay, there’s very little reason to use this feature.
The Cherokee can also be options with a wifi hotspot.
The Cherokee is also available with a host of other tech features including Advanced brake assist; full-speed collision warning and crash mitigation; lane departure warning; a foot-activated power tailgate; as well as blind spot and cross traffic alert.
There also an available adaptive cruise control system. Naturally, the graphic shows the Cherokee following its spiritual ancestor…
…The Willys Jeep.
Located on the center console next to the shifter control for Jeep’s Selec-Terrain drive mode selector.
Overhead, our test car came equipped with the optional dual-pane panoramic sunroof.
The Jeep’s rear cabin offers adequate room for two full-size adults. There are 40.3 inches of legroom and 38.5 inches in headroom.
Open the power lift gate and…
…You’ll find 25.8 cubic feet of cargo room. With the second-row seats fold down, cargo capacity increases to 54.7 cubic feet.
Underneath the cargo floor…
… Is a spare tire and jack.
Under the hood, our Cherokee Limited was powered by 271 horsepower, 3.2-litre Pentastar V6. The base engine is a 180 hp, 2.4-litre, naturally aspirated inline four-cylinder. There’s also an optional 270 hp, 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder.
The naturally aspirated V6 was smooth and powerful. We’ve always been a fan of FCA’s Pentastar engines and this one once again delivered.
All Cherokee’s are mated to a ZF 948TE nine-speed automatic transmission. We were less enamoured with the transmission. Its shifts were on the slow side and simply couldn’t keep up under hard acceleration. However, the ZF box livens up a quite a bit if you put the car into sport mode.
The Cherokee comes standard in front-wheel drive. Simple blasphemy for the SUV traditionalist.
However, it is available with three different 4X4 setups, each with more off-roading goodies than the next.
Our test car came with Jeep Active Drive I which operates in front-wheel-drive and sends power to the rear when the system deems necessary. Jeep Active Drive II features a low-range transfer box, a crawl ratio, and hill descent control. Finally, there’s Jeep Active Drive II Lock which adds a locking rear differential to the equation.
So, what’s it like to drive?
The Cherokee proved to be a bit of a mixed bag to drive. On the plus side, the experience was quiet, comfortable, and drama free. On the wet, slippery, pothole-riddled roads of New Jersey, our test car handled every obstacle it encountered with aplomb.
The Pentastar V6 delivered its 271 horsepower effortlessly to all four wheels.
However, there were some gripes. The biggest being the Cherokee’s nine-speed automatic transmission, which really muted the V6’s power delivery. The nine-speed tries to get as quickly as possible to the over-drive gears at the top of the range. However, it tends to get stuck there and isn’t able to downshift quick enough to keep up with the engine under acceleration. As a result, there is a pronounced lag between the time you stop on the gas and the time transmission can deliver power. This is especially evident while passing on the highway.
Sport mode helps the transmission overcome this issue, but also inexplicably automatically turns off the traction control.
In addition, the Cherokee rolls a bit much in the corners and its handling isn’t the quickest. Although the ride was soft and comfortable.
After a week behind wheel, we came away impressed by our 2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited.
However, there were parts of the Jeep that also really bugged us.
Its styling, while more straight edge post facelift, is still a bit funky and doesn’t quite fit it with the handsomely restrained look of Jeep’s other offerings. Its driving position is a bit awkward and its transmission still could use some time at a finishing school.
While far from perfect. It’s also really easy to love.
The cabin is well designed, it’s loaded with tech that actually works, and it’s quite fun to drive on rough terrain.
The Jeep Cherokee is a bit of an odd duck in that it’s at once an Italian passenger car-based crossover and a rugged American off-roader.
In a market dominated by four-cylinder car-based crossovers, old-school truck-based SUVs with serious off-roading ability are becoming a rarity these days. Especially if you’re looking for anything smaller than a Chevy Tahoe.
But the Cherokee is truly unique, and I don’t use that word lightly, in that it’s a compact crossover that can go whether its fellow crossovers simply can’t. It has a stout V6 engine with power its rivals simply can’t deliver. This is especially true when the Cherokee is decked out in its hardcore Trailhawk edition.
These simple facts set the Cherokee apart from the masses. Plus, Jeeps are just really cool.
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