The 2019 Jeep Cherokee just debuted in Detroit, Michigan at the North American International Auto Show. Jeep says the 2019 Cherokee will feature a more premium design overall, but stay true to its original Jeep styling, which they note as “icnonic.” Given that “iconic Jeep styling” is essentially a box on four wheels that can sustain incoming fire from a Wehrmacht MG 42, this is a good thing.
Styling is new all around for the 2019 Jeep Cherokee. The front fascia is entirely new as are the hood, the headlamps, which are LED units, the daylight running lamps, and the fog lamps. There is a new and lighter power liftgate that provides hands free operation. Wheels? Those are new too. There are five new wheel designs, including a set of premium 19-inch wheels on the Overland models. Jeep also says you can experience “open-air freedom” thanks to the available dual-pane sunroof (which is kinda pretentious, but I also bet the view is pretty nice).
The interior has also gotten the premium treatment. Functionality and design has been refined with new Satin Chrome and Piano Black, high-gloss accents that really let you know how far we’ve come from the motorized U.S. Army mule of the 1940s. The rear cargo volume has improved and there is more convenient storage space available.
The modern conveniences extend to such niceties as a fourth-generation Uconnect system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You also get your choice of either a seven or 8.4-inch touchscreen with pinch-and-zoom capability.
Power & Performance
Under that big, flat-ish hood sits a completely new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with direct-injection. Said four-banger cranks out 270 horsepower and a healthy 295 lb-ft. of torque. Both of those figures are noteworthy given they are coming from only 2.0-liters of displacement. The new, 2019 Jeep Cherokee is also fitted with engine stop-start technology (ESS) to optimize your fuel economy and to minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
I know stop-start tech kind of got a bad rap when it first came out, but it seems like most of those criticisms have been dealt with over the years. So really, having engine stop-start technology isn’t that big of a deal any longer. That engine is mated to an enhanced TorqueFlite nine-speed automatic transmission, tuned to match the performance of the new turbocharged inline four-pot.
The 2019 Cherokee also has two other power plants to choose from. There’s a 3.2-liter Pentastar V6, also equipped with ESS technology. That mill puts out 271 horsepower and 239 lb-ft. of torque with a towing capability of 4,500 lbs. Very nice. Jeep says this towing figure is best-in-class. The other engine is a 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir2, delivering 180 horsepower and 170 lb-ft. of torque (also quipped with ESS).
Jeep says the 2019 Cherokee, with its enhanced four-wheel drive systems, is the benchmark for mid-sized SUVs. Which all follows, given that Jeeps are famed the world over for their off-road capabilities. And to that end, the new Cherokee features the next-generation of Jeep’s Active Drive I. The rear drive module is fully automatic and goes in and out of four-wheel drive at any speed without any driver input needed. Jeep also cut nearly 17 lbs. from the Active Drive I setup to increase fuel efficiency and performance.
Jeep Active Drive II includes a two-speed Power Transfer Unit with special torque management capabilities, and low-range gear reduction. This is available if you’re going to get into more serious, mixed, and unpredictable terrain. A perfect bit of kit for those of you that own fishing cabins, do a lot of skiing, or live in places like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Thanks to the Jeep Selec-Terrain traction control system, you have up to five customized modes – Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud, and Rock – available from your dashboard. Oh, and speaking of Rock Mode, this thing has a crawl ratio of up to 51.2:1, which means it could probably climb the Washington Monument.
Production & In Person
Yes, it’s all shiny and new, but you don’t have to look very deep to see it’s still a Jeep. The new Cherokee is on display at the North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center, downtown Detroit. The show officially opens to the public on Saturday, January 20th.
The 2019 Jeep Cherokee is manufactured at the Belvidere Assembly Plant in Belvidere, Illinois. It will arrive in Jeep showrooms in the first quarter of this year.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format.