Ever because the fifth-generation Jeep Cherokee went on sale in 2013, it has been a notable jack of all trades within the compact SUV class. You would possibly get a Honda CR-V if you need extra cargo area, or perhaps you’d decide a Toyota RAV4 for its concentrate on gas effectivity, however the Jeep Cherokee’s by no means been unhealthy at any of that stuff, both. A slew of updates for the 2019 mannequin yr assist the Cherokee turn out to be much more well-rounded.When the paved roads finish, nevertheless, not one of the competitors can roughhouse off-road just like the Jeep. With that in thoughts, I took a street journey out to Zion National Park to let the 2019 Cherokee flex its Trail Rated skills whereas additionally seeing the way it composes itself over lengthy distances.Road trip-worthyAlthough the Cherokee is a car-based crossover SUV, this Trailhawk mannequin’s off-road preparedness makes it really feel extra like a lumbering pickup truck alongside twisty sections of street — not that anybody is shopping for a rugged Cherokee for sporty driving dynamics, after all. The Cherokee Trailhawk works simply effective for A-to-B driving with properly weighted steering and assured braking, however exaggerated physique motions are par for the course on this Trailhawk trim.

The Cherokee is powered by a new-for-2019, 2.0-liter, turbocharged I4 engine, with 270 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque and a nine-speed computerized transmission. From a cease, this engine/transmission combo will get the 4,260-pound Trailhawk shifting in control with affordable alertness, however on the freeway, the nine-speed is gradual to reply whenever you put your foot to the ground. That makes for sluggish freeway passing, however the transmission is in any other case effective whereas upshifting or driving round city.

With a prolonged Zion street journey below my belt, after 976 miles of largely freeway, I ended up averaging 26.5 miles per gallon. That’s fairly good contemplating the Cherokee Trailhawk is EPA rated for 20 mpg metropolis and 26 mpg freeway. The Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is refreshingly succesful off-road, not like a lot of its competitors.
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You may equip the Trailhawk with a 3.2-liter V6 that produces 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque. Despite much less twist, the V6 is rated to tow 4,500 kilos; 500 greater than the four-cylinder mannequin. Fuel economic system takes a slight hit, with the V6 rated for 18/24 metropolis/freeway mpg, however the six-cylinder solely requires mid-grade gasoline, whereas the two.0T drinks premium. As a outcome, the EPA says your annual gas price could possibly be $2,200 versus the four-cylinder Trailhawk’s $2,250.Non-Trailhawk Cherokees might be had with front-wheel-drive and a 2.4-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, with 180 horsepower, 170 pound-feet of torque and 22/31 metropolis/freeway mpg rankings. The base Cherokee begins at $24,545, however my practically loaded Trailhawk Elite 4×4 is available in at $43,620 together with $1,495 for vacation spot.Off-road trip-worthyTwenty minutes south of Zion National Park alongside the Smithsonian Butte Back Country Scenic Byway — “Crybaby Hill,” because the locals name it — you may discover loads of alternatives to check the Jeep Cherokee’s off-road chops. Short of rock-crawling, I used to be in a position to expertise the Trailhawk’s confidence-inspiring hill-descent management, 56:1 crawl ratio and 8.7 inches of floor clearance. The Firecracker Red Trailhawk feels in its component kicking up mud amid Utah’s outstanding vistas. The Jeep’s suspension makes simple work of Crybaby Hill’s pockmarked paths whereas the steering offers me a slight sensation of what the filth is telling the entrance wheels. Nail the throttle to unleash all the ability the two.0-liter turbocharged engine has to supply and the four-wheel drive merely hooks up and launches you to the subsequent off-road problem, however it’s additionally tremendous simple to modulate whenever you’re crawling over rocks or negotiating tough passes. Over washboard-like surfaces, physique motions are saved in verify, however a couple of rattles start to emanate from behind the sprint. As muffled as they’re, although, the Cherokee nonetheless presents itself as a well-built, go-anywhere machine.These purple tow hooks look depraved sitting under a fascia that is extra good-looking this mannequin yr.
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Chiseled exterior, plush insideThe Trailhawk boasts extra aggressive seems and a one-inch larger journey top than different Cherokees. Red tow hooks pop like a pair of cherries on the entrance fascia, and the butch visage works effectively with the 2019 Cherokee’s refined design. I can recognize how final yr’s mannequin tried to set itself other than different compact SUVs, however I by no means discovered it interesting. The 2019 mannequin’s extra conventional-looking headlights lend themselves to a extra good-looking look.

There are fewer modifications to the Cherokee’s inside, however why mess with a superb factor? The Jeep’s cabin is lots plush, by no means leaving me in ache after six-hour stints behind the wheel. My street journey isn’t boring, both, due to the Jeep’s enveloping, full-bodied 506-watt Alpine premium audio system.

With clear roads forward welcoming me with open arms, I will sink a bit of deeper into the Cherokee’s warmed (and cooled) Nappa leather-based seats and benefit from the SUV’s quiet cabin. Riding on a set of all-terrain tires, probably the most off-road-worthy Cherokee trim gives a muted cockpit complemented by a easy journey. Also forward of me is an 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment interface I discover simple to make use of whether or not by way of the native menus or by way of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Other tech options on my Trailhawk embody embedded navigation, plus HD and satellite tv for pc radio. The Cherokee can also be accessible with a wholesome suite of driver-assistance options, together with collision-mitigation braking, the aforementioned adaptive cruise management, computerized high-beams, rain-sensing wipers, lane-keep help, automated parallel parking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors with computerized braking.The Cherokee’s inside is not a lot totally different from final yr, however I am not mad about that.
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How I would spec itIf I had been available in the market for the one compact SUV that may actually tussle off-road, then I would be certain to possibility it with each efficiency enhancement whereas balancing that functionality with each creature consolation. My tester’s black wheels, which assist the purple paint pop a bit of extra, are $655 and price it. The similar goes for my instance’s $2,995 Elite package deal, which amongst different objects, provides a heated steering wheel, auto-dimming mirror, foot-activated liftgate, energy driver and passenger seats, leather-based upholstery and distant begin. $1,095 is a small worth to pay for the Cherokee’s Technology Group that provides the driver-assistance options talked about earlier.In addition to all of my tester’s non-compulsory extras, I would keep on with that spicy Firecracker Red paint, and I would dish out one other $115 for the engine block heater in case I needed to road-trip to Alaska. I would additionally shell out $795 for the towing package deal and $1,095 for rock rails, bringing my out-the-door whole to $45,625.Black wheels and Firecracker Red paint are absolute musts for a Trailhawk.
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Pay for the prowessMake no mistake, $45,000 is a reasonably penny for a SUV on this section. You’ll pay as much as $10,000 much less for equally outfitted competitors. None of them, nevertheless, can dream of matching what the Cherokee can obtain off-road. Ultimately, it is as much as you to resolve if segment-leading off-road functionality is price the additional money.That caveat apart, the 2019 Cherokee is best than it is ever been, chock-full of the newest tech, a refined turbocharged engine and loads of room inside for passengers and cargo. In its extra grocery-getting trims, it price a glance in case you’re available in the market for a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, however when the going will get powerful, it is Trailhawk or nothing.

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