Car Reviews SUV of the Year

Jeep Cherokee: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

Heartstring tugger

Heartstring tugger

WE LIKE Swank interior design and materials, Selec-Terrain system

WE DON’T LIKE Less adventurous restyle, underpowered air conditioning

Jeeps are emotional purchases made by fun-loving, outdoorsy, right-brain folks who can’t be bothered deciphering those tedious black and red Consumer Reports dots. The Cherokee’s abundant emotional appeal intensifies this year with the addition of a 2.0-liter turbo poached from its equally fervid cousins, the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio.

Our most fun-loving editors praised the engine’s broad torque curve, burly exhaust note, and improved pairing with the oft-maligned nine-speed automatic transmission. Scott Evans felt the extra power made the Jeep “an absolute riot in the sand.” Alisa Priddle looped the sand pit repeatedly, laughing maniacally. Miguel Cortina thought the engine’s exuberant soundtrack made the acceleration feel quicker than its middling 7.5-second 0–60 time suggests.

Our left-brain perfectionists carped about engine vibrations felt at idle, a noisy cooling fan (which Mark Rechtin likened to an air-raid siren), and some residual shift sluggishness from the transmission. They noted that despite the high-tech powertrain, mass added for off-roading purposes means fuel economy trails the pack. Rattles and secondary vibrations felt on the tortuous Belgian blocks surface belie the advancing age of the underlying chassis. And nothing in this refresh alters the Cherokee’s basic flaw—a package that is biggish on the outside but smallish in the rear seat and cargo area for this class. Jeep could learn from Honda on this one.

We unanimously agreed A) that Jeep’s Uconnect infotainment interface is among the industry’s finest; B) that even in its fully chrome-bedazzled, on-road Limited drag, the Cherokee is king of the compact CUV class for off-road capability; and C) that A plus B plus an abundance of emotional appeal still doesn’t add up to an SUV of the Year.


2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4×4
Base Price/As tested $35,490/$41,465
Power (SAE net) 270 hp @ 5,250 rpm
Torque (SAE net) 295 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
Accel, 0-60 mph 7.5 sec
Quarter-mile 15.8 sec @ 87.1 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 131 ft
Lateral Acceleration 0.77 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 27.9 sec @ 0.64 g (avg)
EPA City/Hwy/Comb 21/29/24 mpg
Vehicle Layout Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine/Transmission 2.0L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 /9-speed automatic
Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 4,094 lb (57/43%)
Wheelbase 106.6 in
Length x Width x Height 183.1 x 73.2 x 66.2 in
Energy Cons, City/Hwy 160/116 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 Emissions, Comb 0.81 lb/mile