Over 30 years ago I wrote that 4WD SUVs are the vehicles folks should consider instead of a car since they can go in snow and where cars can’t go. And at the time there were only three top choices in Chevy’s S-10 Blazer, Ford’s Bronco II and Jeep’s Cherokee. Well today, only the Cherokee brand survived and is one of Jeep’s top sellers.
In a previous column we reviewed Jeep’s Cherokee Trailhawk, a formidable SUV that combines the luxury of a sedan with the capability to do serious off-roading and ability to traverse deep snow and so some rock climbing. All traits the similarly priced competition can’t touch.
If you have no intentions of going off-road as most SUV/crossover folks don’t, the Cherokee Limited has all the posh qualities of a luxury sedan with the ability to traverse wintry conditions. And if you want even more luxury than the Limited, check out the Overland trim model.
Cherokee is also offered in Latitude and Latitude Plus, and all trim models except Trailhawk, are offered in FWD. But those are for folks in Florida.
For 2019, Cherokee underwent a refresh with a restyled front end, posher interior, more cargo space and a new 2.0L, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.
As for the available powertrains, Jeep offers a 2.4-liter, inline 4-cylinder with 180-hp and 171 lb/ft of torque; the new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder with 270-hp and 295 lb/ft of torque; and a 3.2-liter, V6 with 271-hp and 239 lb/ft of torque and the one that was in our test vehicle. Looking at these numbers, you’ll quickly notice the close power figures of the V6 and turbo four. Well the turbo four has more torque and will provide slightly better fuel economy (20/27 mpg vs. the V6s 19/27 mpg), but the V6 can tow up to a best-in-class 4,500 pounds versus 500 less with the turbo – if you need that capability. All engines come with a 9-speed automatic transmission and start/stop technology to help attain those fuel economy numbers.
So powered, the Cherokee Limited had good grunt from a standing stop and during passing maneuvers. But its heft (3,960 pounds) could be felt which gave the impression of being lethargic.
Cherokee Limited’s interior was posh and comfy with its perforated and heated leather seats (and steering wheel) that offered sensible lateral support that had a nice rounded effect along its forward edges.
An 8.4-inch touchscreen offered a host of apps including Wi-Fi hotspot capability, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity and Chrysler’s UConnect infotainment system in addition to the usual rearview camera and audio systems. A 7-inch configurable color display nestles between the speedometer and tach and provides driver information on the vehicle’s operations.
Cherokee’s are offered with a choice of three 4WD systems (Active Drive I, II and Lock) with the Limited having Jeep’s Active Drive I Selec-Terrain system. A rotary dial on the console offers Auto, Snow, Sport and Sand/Mud gearing choices.
Ingress/egress into the rear seats required a low 19-inch step-in wherein three passengers can enjoy good leg room although head room may be a bit tight for tall folks. The 60/40 split folding seats slide fore/aft offering more or less cargo space. Which, with the rear seatbacks upright, provides 27.6 cubic feet of cargo room. As such, the space measures 34 inches deep, 41.5 deep and 29.25 high. Flip the backs and capacity expands to 54.7 feet for a full 63 inches of cargo loading depth. Load height is a low 30 inches and there’s also some small item storage beneath the cargo floor.
Ride quality on 18-inch Continental tires is stout but quiet and comfy. Road imperfections are nicely smoothed out and the steering transmits some road feel. This combines with sporty handling and scant, but controlled body roll. Engage Sport mode and the 9-speed trans holds gears a bit longer that adds to the vehicle’s sporty performance.
Cherokee Limited came with a long list of standard features and safety items, with extra cost options such as Technology package ($995 that added advanced brake assist, full speed crash warning with crash mitigation, auto park, side distance warning, lane departure and side distance warning, rain sensing wipers, brake assist and more. To that was added the Luxury Group ($1,195) consisting of tonneau cover, foot activated power liftgate and more. A panoramic sunroof fetched $1,295; a nine amplified speakers tacked on $695; UConnect with satellite radio and more added $795 and delivery ($1,445) took the base price of $33,620 to $40,040. This price is about on par with some others in the class, but is a bit higher than most. But buyers are getting a superior 4WD system and a vehicle that can far surpass any AWD sedan or crossover on the market.
Cherokee also comes with a 5-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty and was only government tested for rollover that earned it four out of five stars which is expected as it sits higher than most crossovers.
If given a choice of the entire Jeep line, the Cherokee followed by the Jeep Compass would be my affordable buying preferences.