The refreshed 2019 Jeep Cherokee made its debut at the Detroit auto show this week with a new look and a new turbocharged engine. The Cherokee was somewhat polarizing when the last generation debuted a few years ago. People either loved it or hated it, so Jeep gave the Cherokee a facelift this time around.
This isn’t an all-new Cherokee, but there are significant design changes with a new front fascia, lightweight hood, LED headlamps, daytime running lamps, fog lamps, and liftgate. The iconic seven-slot grille is still there, but with a more refined design for the headlamps that gives the Cherokee a cleaner look and brings it in line with the rest of Jeep’s offerings.
Designers also spent some time rethinking the rear of the Cherokee. It’s more streamlined in back and includes a new lightweight composite liftgate. It features an integrated light bar with a repositioned release handle that’s easier to open. Also new for 2019 is an available hands-free liftgate operated by making a kicking motion beneath the rear bumper.
“A stunning, more premium design and the addition of our new fuel-efficient 2.0-liter turbo engine make the new 2019 Jeep Cherokee even more desirable in the mid-size SUV segment,” said Mike Manley, head of Jeep Brand FCA Global. “In addition, Cherokee builds on its benchmark 4×4 capability and on-road dynamics with refinement and style, a host of new attributes, powertrains and the latest technology that is perfectly situated for consumers worldwide.”
The interior is more upscale while still maintaining the rugged practicality of a Jeep. There are new high-gloss Piano Black trims with Satin Chrome accents around the radio, vents, and gear shift bezels. There’s also an available dual-pane sunroof to help keep the cabin bright and airy for all passengers.
Other changes include an electronic parking brake that’s now enclosed in the center shift bezel for easier operation and a repositioned center console. This makes for a larger front storage pocket and provides better access to the USB port for charging devices. Jeep also added a new push-push fuel door and capless fuel filler, so there’s no need to touch a gas cap.
The newly designed rear not only looks better, but it improves cargo capacity, too. There’s over 27 cubic feet with an additional three inches of width. That sounds like a small change, but it’s enough to now accommodate longer objects, like a set of golf clubs, without having to put them in at an awkward angle.
The biggest news is under the hood, where the engine line-up increases from two choices to three. The Cherokee now has an all-new 2.0-liter direct-injection turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It’s also equipped with start/stop technology to maximize fuel economy.
Other engine choices are the 2.0-liter V6 with 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque or a 2.4-liter I4 with 180 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of toque. All engines are paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The Cherokee still boasts plenty of capability with a choice of three 4×4 systems. Each was enhanced specifically for the new Cherokee with the goal of providing the best possible response and control whether it’s on-road driving or an off-road challenge.
There’s Jeep Active Drive I, which is fully automatic and switches in and out of four-wheel drive at any speed. The system requires no driver intervention, and it’s an all-new design for the Cherokee. Jeep Active Drive II offers a 4-Low mode that locks the front and rear driveshafts for low-speed power or towing. Finally, there’s Jeep Active Drive Lock, which builds on Jeep Active Drive II with a locking rear differential for more extreme off-road driving. This system is standard on the Trailhawk trim, which is the most off-road focused Cherokee available designed to appeal to the true enthusiast.
The 2019 Jeep Cherokee will be available in Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, Overland, and Trailhawk trims. Pricing and availability have yet to be announced.