2019 Jeep Cherokee
Better looking, more engine choice
- 박재승 (firstname.lastname@example.org) --
- 21 Sep 2018
By James Park
After Wrangler, Cherokee is probably the most iconic name in Jeep’s history.
This writer’s father owned a mid-trim Cherokee from early Nineties to till he passed away in 2010. That thing was a boxy, rugged, reliable, no-nonsense, blue-collar, do-everything kind of vehicle.
For reasons that escape my comprehension, Jeep abandoned the sacred name in favour of ‘Liberty’ for several years before realizing its trespass. Revived in 2013 or so, the Cherokee, however, has evolved beyond the recognition of my father’s old mule.
Embracing progress is good: but personally speaking, the Cherokee seems to have misplaced some of its essence. But never mind an opinion of a middle-aged relic.
The new Cherokee is urbane, better packaged, technologically more advanced and designed to please wider segment of the car-buying consumers.
The fact that its engine is now transversely mounted and its AWD system is front-wheel biased may displease some of the traditionalists. These may stubbornly argue the Cherokee is no longer a ‘real’ SUV, but the larger audience who are pushing the sales of crossovers to new heights do not really care about such technicalities.
Styling wise, the new Cherokee turned a lot of heads, not necessarily for the right reason. The narrow squinty-eye headlights were controversial to say the least. Introduced this year, the face-lifted 2019 Cherokee gets bigger headlights for friendlier effect. The taillights are little bigger as well, but the modification is minimal and the overall exterior styling is mostly carried over.
The biggest change, however, is the availability of a turbocharged 2.0 litre four as one of the upgrade engines. This force-fed mill generates about the same horsepower as the 3.2 litre V6, the other optional motor (270 against 271). However, the turbo churns up 56 more lb-ft of twist for the total of 295 lb-ft. The base engine is still the normal-breathing 2.4 litre four, good for 180 horses.
The two-litre turbo generates maximum torque from way down low and gets the vehicle moving without any fuss. There’s a slight hint of turbo-lag and the engine sound, while robust, is less soulful than that of the V6.
As a modern asphalt-friendly crossover utility vehicle, the Cherokee, being a Jeep, is still more capable off-road than many of its peers, especially in the Trailhawk guise.
Even the mid-trim Limited model loaned for test-drive to this writer has the AWD system with selectable Auto, Snow, Sport and Sand/Mud modes. Moreover, the Cherokee gets suitable ride height with better than average approach angle. Its suspension is also softly tuned for comfortable ride over potholes, ruts, rocks and whatnot.
On the other hand, such suspension setup is not really conducive to sporty and agile handling. Then again, someone looking for such characteristics in a CUV is barking up a wrong tree. The Cherokee displays ample body-roll at the limits and its steering feel is mostly uncommunicative, which is probably par for the course.
In the Cherokee lineup, the base Sport can be had for around $26,000. The price gets progressively steeper as you go through North, Limited, Trailhawk, Trailhawk Elite and the top-of-the-line Overland. My Limited test-vehicle is $40,495 before taxes and mandatory fees. With options, it rises to $47,640.
The long list of options includes the 4th-gen UConnect infotainment system with 8.4 inch screen and Apple Carplay/Android Auto connectivity. This gets well-deserved reputation as one of the best. However, turn off the volume and the whole system goes off.
The heated and cooled leather seats are supportive and the visibility is decent all around. The turbo four also gets better mileage than the V6 with 11.2 litres per 100km in city and 8 litres on highway. It demands premium juice, however.
As a smallish mid-size crossover, the Cherokee is all that a CUV should be with better than average off-road capability. With a slight makeover, it is also a better looking vehicle. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)
2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited
As tested: $47,640
Engine: 2.0 litre turbo four
Power: 27o hp/295 lb-ft
Transmission: 9 spd auto
Fuel: 11.2 litres per 100km (city), 8.0 litres (highway)
Best: confident off-roader, friendlier facade
Worst: slight turbo-lag
Competition: Kia Sorento, Nissan Pathfinder, Chevy Blazer
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