The Jeep Cherokee has been around since the 2014 model, which revived a longtime Jeep name as an all-new 2014 compact SUV that we bought for long-term testing. The 2019 Cherokee is the first significant update, bringing a revised look, an additional powertrain and added features and cargo space to better compete in the hot market for small SUVs.
Related: What’s the Best Compact SUV of 2019?
Our recent Compact SUV Challenge comparing seven rivals was very close, with the 2019 Cherokee finishing sixth but no single SUV far ahead. And the Cherokee offers some strengths not available in others. Full results of the 2019 Compact SUV Challenge results can be found above along with our full review here. But for a quick overview, here are eight things Cars.com editors like about the 2019 Jeep Cherokee, plus four we don’t:
What We Like
1. Power Choices
Many compact SUV shoppers expect just adequate power, but for those who want more, the Cherokee has a pair of choices over the base 180-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine. There’s a new 270-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 271-hp, 3.2-liter V-6. The turbo four puts out more torque at lower rpm. It’s also more efficient, with an EPA combined rating of up to 26 mpg, though it needs 91-octane premium for its rated power. See the Cherokee engines rated here.But the V-6 is no mpg slacker, finishing fifth with 26.1 mpg in the Challenge’s real-world mileage testingahead of two much less powerful four-cylinder SUVs.
The V-6 might be the best value, too. It’s standard on higher trim levels and a $1,745 option down to the base. The four is $2,245 on lower trim levels and $500 on those with a standard V-6. The V-6’s “power feels robust and eager, and the engine feels smooth,” said Challenge judge Joe Wiesenfelder.
2. Ride and Handling Balance
The Cherokee balances a comfortable ride with competent handling for an SUV.
“The Cherokee’s suspension refinement impresses. Tuning is firm, but it doesn’t get flustered or become harsh when you hit a rough patch,” said Challenge judge Mike Hanley.
3. A Classy Interior
The 2019 Cherokee got some more piano-black finishes and a larger bin at the front of the center console, but it already was a class act. In the Challenge, it tied the 2019 Honda CR-Vand 2019 Volkswagen Tiguanfor top interior quality, and its design was more “near-luxury” than those, with high-quality leather and stitching and the least hard plastic on areas you touch.
4. Smart Multimedia Tech
The 2019 Cherokee has a fourth-generation Uconnectmultimedia and control system that is fast and intuitive, and it remains one of the best systems available. The 7-inch or 8.4-inch touchscreens are sharper, and both include Apple CarPlayand Android Auto. The 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen is the favorite for size, ease of use and customizable row of icons. Power outlets can include USB and the latest USB-C ports, plus a household electrical outlet.
6. Quiet Cabin
The Cherokee cabin is very quiet in town and on the highway. Plus, if you get the turbo 2.0-liter or V-6, their power and conventional gear-step transmissions combine to avoid the buzzy nature of powertrains in rivals with lower-power engines and, in some cases, continuously variable automatics.
7. Aces for Child Seat Ease
The Cherokee aced Cars.com’s Car Seat Check, scoring a rare A’s-across-the-board for fit and ease of installation of the child safety seats and boosters used in our tests. That’s also a huge improvement over the 2018 Cherokee, which earned only B’s and C’s in its Car Seat Check.
8. It’s Made in the USA
The Cherokee is built in Belvidere, Ill., and much of what goes into it is made in the USA, as well. The 2018 model was No. 1 in Cars.com’s most recent American-Made Index, which analyzes where vehicles are assembled, domestic-parts content, where the engines and transmissions come from, and how many U.S. factory workers their makers directly employ relative to the vehicle sales.
What We Don’t Like
1. Nine-Speed Automatic Still Crazy After All These Years
The balky nine-speed automatic has been an issue for us since the 2014 model, especially when it is mated to the base 2.4-liter engine. To be fair, tuning and software updates over the years have made it better. Its hard upshifts mostly have been eliminated, while other bad behaviors are much less noticeable in typical driving, particularly when paired with the more powerful engines. But it still hesitates when you need a surge of power.
2. It’s Light on Hauling
If you have regular hauling needs, you might find the Cherokee comes up a little short. Jeep scooped out the rear cargo walls for 2019 to get about 1.2 additional cubic feet, and it has a sliding backseat to take space from the rear seat, but the Cherokee’s 25.8 cubic feet behind the backseat trails leaders such as the 2019 Nissan Rogue at 39.3 and CR-V at 39.2 cubic feet. And its seats-folded volume is 54.7 cubic feet compared with 75.8 in the CR-V.
3. Safety Not Standard
The 2019 Jeep Cherokee significantly improved in crash-protection scores in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing but still limits availability of advanced safety technology. It offers such tech as automatic front braking and adaptive cruise control, but you have to move to higher trim levels just to order it in a $1,095 package. That lags behind rivals such as the 2019 Toyota RAV4, which makes such tech standard, and others with it standard or optional for all. Lane-centering steering and a 360-degree camera system are not offered at all.
More From Cars.com:
- 2019 Jeep Cherokee: So, About Those Headlights…
- Which 2019 Jeep Wrangler Should I Buy: Sport, Sport S, Sahara or Rubicon?
- 2019 Honda CR-V: 6 Things We Like (and 6 Not So Much)
- 2019 Toyota RAV4: 5 Things We Like (and 5 Not So Much)
- 2019 Chevrolet Blazer: 10 Things We Like and 5 We Don’t
4. It Can Be Pricey for What You Get
Judges in Cars.com’s Challenge of high-level models downgraded the Cherokee’s value score because it had the fewest safety and driver-assistance features along with the least measured cargo room, yet it still cost more than $40,000.
Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.