Ever for the reason that fifth-generation Jeep Cherokee went on sale in 2013, it has been a notable jack of all trades within the compact SUV class. You may get a Honda CR-V if you’d like extra cargo house, or possibly you’d decide a Toyota RAV4 for its concentrate on gasoline effectivity, however the Jeep Cherokee’s by no means been dangerous at any of that stuff, both. A slew of updates for the 2019 mannequin yr assist the Cherokee grow 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 highway journey out to Zion Nationwide Park to let the 2019 Cherokee flex its Path Rated talents whereas additionally seeing the way it composes itself over lengthy distances.

Highway trip-worthy

Though 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 highway — not that anybody is shopping for a rugged Cherokee for sporty driving dynamics, after all. The Cherokee Trailhawk works simply high quality 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.Zero-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 Four,260-pound Trailhawk shifting up to the mark with cheap alertness, however on the freeway, the nine-speed is gradual to reply while you put your foot to the ground. That makes for sluggish freeway passing, however the transmission is in any other case high quality whereas upshifting or driving round city.

With a prolonged Zion highway journey below my belt, after 976 miles of principally freeway, I ended up averaging 26.5 miles per gallon. That is 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.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

You may as well equip the Trailhawk with a three.2-liter V6 that produces 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque. Regardless of much less twist, the V6 is rated to tow Four,500 kilos; 500 greater than the four-cylinder mannequin. Gas financial 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. In consequence, the EPA says your annual gasoline price may very well be $2,200 versus the four-cylinder Trailhawk’s $2,250.

Non-Trailhawk Cherokees could be had with front-wheel-drive and a 2.Four-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, with 180 horsepower, 170 pound-feet of torque and 22/31 metropolis/freeway mpg scores. The bottom Cherokee begins at $24,545, however my almost loaded Trailhawk Elite 4×4 is available in at $43,620 together with $1,495 for vacation spot.

Off-road trip-worthy

Twenty minutes south of Zion Nationwide Park alongside the Smithsonian Butte Again Nation Scenic Byway — “Crybaby Hill,” because the locals name it — you may discover loads of alternatives to check the Jeep Cherokee’s off-road chops. In need of rock-crawling, I used to be capable of expertise the Trailhawk’s confidence-inspiring hill-descent management, 56:1 crawl ratio and eight.7 inches of floor clearance. The Firecracker Pink Trailhawk feels in its factor kicking up mud amid Utah’s outstanding vistas.

The Jeep’s suspension makes straightforward 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 facility the two.Zero-liter turbocharged engine has to supply and the four-wheel drive merely hooks up and launches you to the subsequent off-road problem, nevertheless it’s additionally tremendous straightforward to modulate while you’re crawling over rocks or negotiating difficult passes. Over washboard-like surfaces, physique motions are stored in examine, however just a few 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.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

Chiseled outdoors, plush inside

The Trailhawk boasts extra aggressive appears and a one-inch greater experience peak than different Cherokees. Pink 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 admire 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 very good factor? The Jeep’s cabin is loads plush, by no means leaving me in ache after six-hour stints behind the wheel. My highway journey isn’t boring, both, because of the Jeep’s enveloping, full-bodied 506-watt Alpine premium audio system.

With clear roads forward welcoming me with open arms, I can sink somewhat deeper into the Cherokee’s warmed (and cooled) Nappa leather-based seats and benefit from the SUV’s quiet cabin. Driving on a set of all-terrain tires, essentially the most off-road-worthy Cherokee trim presents a muted cockpit complemented by a easy experience.

Additionally forward of me is an eight.Four-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment interface I discover straightforward to make use of whether or not by way of the native menus or by way of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Different tech options on my Trailhawk embrace embedded navigation, plus HD and satellite tv for pc radio. The Cherokee can also be out there 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 completely different from final yr, however I am not mad about that.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

How I might spec it

If I had been out there for the one compact SUV that may actually tussle off-road, then I might be sure that to choice it with each efficiency enhancement whereas balancing that functionality with each creature consolation.

My tester’s black wheels, which assist the purple paint pop somewhat extra, are $655 and price it. The identical goes for my instance’s $2,995 Elite package deal, which amongst different gadgets, 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 Know-how Group that provides the driver-assistance options talked about earlier.

Along with all of my tester’s optionally available extras, I might keep on with that spicy Firecracker Pink paint, and I might dish out one other $115 for the engine block heater in case I wished to road-trip to Alaska. I might additionally shell out $795 for the towing package deal and $1,095 for rock rails, bringing my out-the-door complete to $45,625.

Black wheels and Firecracker Pink paint are absolute musts for a Trailhawk.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

Pay for the prowess

Make no mistake, $45,000 is a fairly penny for a SUV on this section. You will 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. In the end, it is as much as you to determine 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 most recent tech, a refined turbocharged engine and loads of room inside for passengers and cargo. In its extra grocery-getting trims, it price a glance when you’re out there for a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, however when the going will get powerful, it is Trailhawk or nothing.

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