The 2019 Jeep Cherokee is refreshed with a revised front end, new turbocharged engine, and improved four-wheel drive system. This isn’t an all-new version of the Cherokee. It’s a refresh that features several key improvements to Jeep’s mid-size SUV.
Jeep is a brand with distinct styling. They’re instantly recognizable on the road, and it’s part of what Jeep enthusiasts love about their vehicles. Prior to this refresh, the Cherokee had squinty front headlights that many fans disliked, so Jeep heard the complaints and reworked the front end.
The old headlights are gone, and the Cherokee gets a new front fascia, hood, LED headlamps, daytime running lamps, and fog lamps. It’s not a dramatic change and there’s still that famous seven-slot grille, but it makes the Cherokee look more like the rest of the Jeep lineup.
Around back, Jeep added a hands-free power liftgate to make loading cargo easier, and the reworked sheet metal now flows naturally from the new front end. There’s also a new design to the cargo area that makes it more spacious and versatile with an extra 3 inches of width. This is wide enough to stow golf clubs without having to tip them at an angle. In general, it allows for more cargo, too.
The interior shows off new high-gloss Piano Black and Satin Chrome accents, and the parking brake is enclosed around the center shifter bezel so it’s easier to use. Jeep also tweaked the center console to improve storage. The USB port and 115-volt outlet are more rearward, which creates a larger front storage space, so you can put your phone right next to the USB port and stay connected.
Off-roaders have a choice of three 4×4 systems. The fully-automatic Jeep Active Drive I system is all-new for the Cherokee this year with a 17-pound weight reduction. This helps to achieve better fuel economy. Jeep Active Drive II, which features a 4-Low mode, is re-calibrated for smoother operation, and there’s still Jeep Active Drive Lock, which adds in a locking rear differential and comes standard on Trailhawk models.
The big news is the addition of a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It has 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque and is paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Jeep also upgraded the transmission with new software to improve its refinement.
Before this new engine, you had your choice of either a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 180 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque or a 3.2-liter V6 with 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque, both of which are still available. The Cherokee’s four-cylinder sounds and feels like it’s working too hard, especially under hard acceleration. The V6 offers much better performance, easily moving the Cherokee into heavy traffic without effort. The new turbocharged four-cylinder has them both beat.
It’s becoming common for automakers to rely on smaller turbocharged engines to achieve the right combination of fuel economy and performance. Although fuel economy numbers have yet to be released for the 2019 Jeep Cherokee, the performance is solid.
The Cherokee equipped with the new turbocharged engine has brisk acceleration. Though it’s not more powerful than the V6 on paper, the turbocharging makes up the difference. It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting out from a traffic light, trying to merge into highway traffic, or looking for an extra burst of speed for passing.
The refined nine-speed automatic is noticeably better, too. Shifts are smoother and well-timed to get the best power delivery. Jeep had a few issues with the transmission in the Cherokee in the past and has been continually improving it. This latest crop of improvements is another step in the right direction.
The refreshed Jeep Cherokee offers an upgraded interior, new turbocharged engine, and revamped exterior, which all comes combined with legendary Jeep capability. Pricing starts at $23,995 for the base Latitude 4×2 and tops out at $37,775 for the Overland 4×4.
Expect the new Jeep Cherokee in dealerships in early 2018.