It became obvious while driving the new 2019 Jeep Cherokee why the current generation has been a popular seller for Jeep since 2014. Everywhere I turned there seemed to be yet another Cherokee. What is there to love about this little rig? Well, depending on options and trim, its either ideal to haul the family around town or more than capable of off-road journeys. Numerous improvements, available V-6 and a new turbo four engine should make it even more attractive to potential buyers.
My test model was a 4X4 North with a base price of $30,171 being one trim level above the Sport which itself starts at $27,021. With some options the price tag topped $44,000. All models receive a lighter composite liftgate with hands-free power operation, redesigned LED tail lamps, an aluminum hood, restyled bumpers, capless fuel filling, five new wheel choices, dressier dash and door-panel materials, improved infotainment systems, a three-inch-wider cargo floor, retuned suspension and steering systems, and a new, range-topping 2.0-liter inline-four featuring a twin-scroll turbocharger and making 270 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. Jeep claims work to lighten the body and chassis has shaved off about 150 pounds.
My tester came with the 2.0 turbo four and it proved to be a smooth running powerplant ideal for scooting around town. The nine-speed automatic transmission worked well with the turbo engine, being tuned more for mellow shifts. Around town I was able to get 8.6L/100 km in fuel consumption which is very good with the little engine. With 18” Continental tires as part of the “Altitude” option package the tires provided a smooth ride and plenty of grip when pushing the Cherokee through a curve. At highway speed the passenger cabin is hushed and the Cherokee gives you the impression of being a much larger vehicle.
Jeep gives you a good selection of interior materials. Good thing because the basic black cloth and vinyl on my North model was dreary, but the seats are comfortable and there is enough legroom for front and rear passengers. From the driver’s position, you get good all round visibility, helped out by the backup camera, but there was no rear cross-traffic sensor which is surprising given the price-point of the North model trim. As for the latest tech, there is a Uconnect 4 Multimedia Centre with a rather smallish 7-inch touchscreen. You do get Apple CarPlay compatibility and Android Auto. Large windows and mirrors were a plus and helped make the driving experience a little safer. Cargo space is plentiful in the back and with the rear seat backs down you get 1,634 litres of room for your stuff.
There are eight trim levels of the Cherokee, offering plenty of choice from a simple, daily driver to a 4X4 more than capable of driving in the rough. The Cherokee is the right size for most people or families with two kids. There are two other powerplants in addition to the new 2.0L four. An available Pentastar V-6 boasts towing of up to 2,041 kg. That would be a must-have engine if you’re towing a light trailer. Don’t go for a four cylinder engine. The third powerplant is a 2.4 litre Tigershark 4 cylinder putting out 180 horsepower. Like the 2.0 L turbo, ideal for around town and a smooth runner on the open road.
If you do want to drive the squinty-eyed Cherokee in some serious terrain, Jeep offers three different 4X4 drive systems. Talk to the dealer as to which would suit your needs.
Read more of Garry Melnyk’s Auto Talk at stalberttoday.ca/auto-talk