2019 Jeep Cherokee Preview
By Christian Wardlaw, January 15, 2018
- Updated, more conservative styling
- Improved utility and convenience
- Enhanced interior storage and color choices
- New Uconnect 4 infotainment system
- Optional turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
- On sale at the end of March
Half a decade since Jeep debuted a new Cherokee with a decidedly polarizing look, the company has finally gotten around to making its midsize SUV more palatable to wider audience.
Cherokee sales are in decline while SUV sales are hot, hot, hot. That’s a problem for Jeep, and it hopes to reverse this trend with new front styling.
Adopting a more conservative and traditional appearance, the freshened 2019 Cherokee has a new hood, front fascia, and lightweight composite rear liftgate that now offers a hands-free opening feature. New lighting elements are the big news, though, as Jeep ditches the Cherokee’s insectile triple-eye treatment for a conventional arrangement incorporating LED headlights, LED running lights, and LED fog lights.
As was true before, the Trailhawk trim has a special lower fascia design in order to maximize off-roading capability rather than fuel economy. And for 2019, the Cherokee Trailhawk’s approach angle improves a smidgeon.
Additional exterior changes include a new push-to-open fuel door and a capless fuel filler neck. Five new wheel designs debut, too, including a set of 19-inch wheels for the luxurious Overland trim.
Jeep makes minor changes to the 2019 Cherokee’s interior. Piano black trim and satin chrome accents provide a more upscale look, while lighter color tones on the cabin’s lower trim panels match the seating for an airier environment.
Subtle changes to the storage space near the Cherokee’s USB port and 115-volt power outlet make it easier to keep a smartphone close by, while the cargo area expands three inches in width so that this Jeep can hold 27 cu.-ft. of cargo behind its rear seat.
Two new color themes also debut, and Jeep claims they were “inspired by adventurous locations throughout the world.”
Storm Blue is enkindled by the vast, icy landscapes of Iceland. Basically, this includes black seats with Storm Blue stitching on the seats and throughout the cabin. Dark Sienna is the other one, reserved for Overland trim, and composed of “earth tones.”
Under the Hood:
Jeep continues to offer a standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine in the 2019 Cherokee, which continues to supply 180 horsepower and 170 lb.-ft. of torque.
For towing up to 4,500 pounds, the optional 3.2-liter V6 engine is the one you want, supplying 271 horsepower and 239 lb.-ft. of torque.
New for 2019, the Cherokee is available with a turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that is probably just right for most people, most of the time. It whips up 270 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque, making it more powerful and likely more efficient than the V6 engine.
All three engines have automatic engine stop/start to help conserve fuel, and all three are paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission that delivers power to the front wheels.
What makes the Cherokee unique in its segment is its off-roading capability. This is, for all intents and purposes, a crossover SUV that, when properly equipped, can tackle California’s difficult Rubicon Trail.
If you just need some extra traction, get the new Jeep Active Drive 1 4-wheel-drive system, which has a lighter rear-drive module than before in order to improve fuel economy and performance.
Jeep Active Drive II continues, with a 2-speed power transfer unit and low-range gear reduction. Cherokees with this setup get a 1-inch suspension lift and added ground clearance. This system also accommodates flat-towing in its Neutral setting.
Jeep Active Drive Lock also continues, essentially an Active Drive II system plus a mechanical locking rear differential and up to a 51.2:1 crawl ratio. This is standard on the Cherokee Trailhawk.
The Cherokee’s Selec-Terrain traction system continues (with Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud, and Rock settings) as does its Selec-Speed hill ascent and descent speed regulation system.
Jeep announces no new safety systems for the 2019 Cherokee, and material made available to reporters prior to the SUV’s debut at the 2018 North American International Auto Show made no mention of structural changes that might improve upon the Cherokee’s mediocre “Marginal” rating in small overlap, frontal-impact protection for drivers.
It could be that this unfavorable safety rating is just as much to blame for shrinking Jeep Cherokee sales as anything else.
On the technology front, Jeep adds a next-generation Uconnect 4 infotainment system to the 2019 Cherokee. It comes with a 7-inch or 8.4-inch touchscreen display, and includes Siri Eyes Free integration as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can also get a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Guardian Connected Services, and more.