The Jeep Cherokee nameplate came back to North America at the 2013 New York International Auto Show after a 12-year hiatus. For those 12 years, Jeep’s compact SUV was called Liberty, but Cherokee just sounds better doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the current-generation Cherokee which receives only a few improvements for 2019 has struggled to carve out a major space for itself in its highly competitive segment.
The Jeep Cherokee ranks 7th in compact SUV sales with 16,847 units sold between January and August. To put things in perspective, the Honda CR-V has sold 37,825 units over the same period while the RAV4 has sold 35,705 units. The Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, Hyundai Tucson and Mazda CX-5 are all more popular than the Cherokee.
For 2019, the Cherokee gets a few minor improvements to the interior and exterior, but the big change is the addition of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine to the mix. Will that help the Cherokee close the gap that separates it from the top of the sales charts? Of course not.
The engine on its own makes the Cherokee a more appealing and efficient compact sport utility vehicle, but at what price? Indeed, pricing is a major issue with the Jeep Cherokee, and always has been. We’ll get back to it, but let’s just say for now that we are far from the most affordable option in this segment.
On the other hand, you get perhaps the most capable off-road compact utility vehicle on the market right now. For city dwellers with a cottage deep in the woods and a young family, the Cherokee should be on your list.
Check out our Nissan Rogue vs Honda CR-V comparison here.
What the 2019 Jeep Cherokee does well
1. With three engine options including a 2.4-liter four-cylinder (184 horsepower), a 3.2-liter V6 (271 horsepower) and a turbocharged four-cylinder (270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque), there are more powertrain options in the Cherokee lineup than any other compact SUV. In other words, you’re sure to find the right engine for your needs.
2. Still on the engines, the fact that it’s still offered with a V6 will please purists while the turbo is among the most powerful engines in this vehicle segment. Even the entry-level engine is more powerful than most other compact SUVs. Buyers looking for power will find their needs fulfill with the Cherokee.
3. The 2019 Jeep Cherokee has one of the best towing capacities in its segment with 4,500 lbs or 2,041 kg.
4. Off-road capabilities are everything you expect from a Jeep, especially in the Trailhawk version with its Selec-Terrain management system and Jeep Active Drive Lock differential.
5. We absolutely love the Uconnect infotainment system. It’s among the easiest to use and figure out in the industry.
What the 2019 Jeep Cherokee doesn’t do so well
1. Pricing is a major issue with the Cherokee, and so is resale value. The Sport model starts at $26,745 while the top-of-the-line Overland starts at over $37,000. That’s not so bad and you do get rebates, but the problem is with the engines. For example, a North mid-level model starts at $27,495. Then you have to add $1,695 for the V6 or $2,590 for the turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Even with the rebates, you’ll be paying almost $33,000. A fully-loaded Cherokee will run you over $40,000, and you can’t lease it. It’s finance only on the Jeep Cherokee at the moment.
2. The V6 may be powerful and rugged, it’s fuel economy will leave you with a deepened understanding of why four-cylinder engines are so popular these days. That being said, the Cherokee’s entry-level four-cylinder isn’t really that fuel-efficient either despite a nine-speed automatic gearbox.
3. There’s less cargo room than in the Jeep’s main competitors.
4. Reliability has been an issue in the past which is not something you have to worry about with most other compact SUVs.
What we tell our friends
You can get a really good deal on a Jeep Cherokee and we can understand how one could find its design unique, rugged and attractive. It’s one of the best off-roaders available at its price range, maybe even the best. But that price is an issue as deal or no deal, you’ll be paying more than average in this segment if you go with one of the more powerful engines. And we’re not quite sure if those reliability issues are squared away. Sadly because the Cherokee has a unique personality, there are still better compact sport utility vehicle options out there.