With a new, more conventional front fascia, the refreshed 2019 Jeep Cherokee scores points for its class-above interior materials, available active safety features, and the off-road prowess of the Trailhawk model. But interior space falls short of competitors, the nine-speed transmission has been problematic, while fuel economy is only middling.

Best Value

Prices for the 2019 Cherokee start at $25,440 for a front-wheel-drive Latitude and climb to $43,760 for a four-wheel-drive Overland. Two engines carry over from last year: a 180-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder as well as a 271-hp, 3.2-liter V6. New to the model this year is a 270-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. All three are matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission. All trims, with the exception of the all-wheel-drive-only Trailhawk, are also available with front-wheel drive.

We'd skip the base Latitude and Latitude Plus models and opt for the Limited 4x4, which brings upgrades that include leather seats, a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated power driver and front passenger seats, an 8.4-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and 18-inch alloy wheels, along with access to a number of advanced safety features. Here's how we'd build it:

  • Model: 2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4
  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Output: 190 hp / 295 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Nine-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive
  • MPG: 21 City / 29 Hwy
  • Options: 2.0-liter turbocharged engine ($500), Technology Group ($995, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, park assist, rain sensitive wipers, automatic high beams), Dual-pane sunroof ($1,295, panoramic, power front, fixed rear).
  • Base Price:$35,065 (including a $1,445 destination fee)
  • Best Value Price:$37,855

Performance

Jeep Cherokee

For 2019, Jeep has updated the Cherokee's suspension with different springs, dampers, and roll bars, further elevating a ride that was already smooth. Both the V6 and turbo-four offer brisk acceleration, while the nine-speed automatic has been re-tuned for drivability over fuel economy, improving its performance, as well.

Three 4WD systems – Active Drive I, Active Drive II, and Active Drive Lock, in ascending order – offer everything from increased traction to true off-road capability. The Trailhawk model is the trim of choice for off-roaders with its improved approach, breakover, and departure angles, along with taller tires, skid plates, and tow hooks.

On the flip side, even commuters will find the base engine to be only adequate, while re-tuning the nine-speed transmission – which has been problematic in the past – may adversely affect fuel economy, which isn't one of the Cherokee's strong points to begin with. Moreover, the transmission lacks paddle shifters, handling is uncommunicative though competent, the top-performing turbo-four requires premium fuel, and its safety scores are near the bottom of the class despite available advanced active features.

Style

Having eighty-sixed the odd six headlight look, the 2019 Cherokee's new mainstream front fascia is more cohesive and brings it in line with the upmarket Grand Cherokee, which is a good thing. It's wrapped around an attractive interior that's trimmed in class-above materials and offers a back seat that slides backward for more legroom and forward to maximize cargo capacity. The look is upscale with a soft-touch dashboard, door panels, and armrests, buttery smooth switchgear, and, unlike some rivals, there's no useless third row.

Skinnier than rivals, space remains an issue as bigger drivers might come into contact with the door panels and center console, while three adults will find accommodations tight in back. At the same time, storage space of 29.1 cubic feet with the rear seat pushed forward shrinks to 24.6 cubic feet with the seats pushed back. When folded, the resulting 54.9 cubic feet is at least 15 cubic feet less than the most spacious rivals.

The Best and Worst Things

The 2019 Cherokee's off-road skills set the bar in the compact crossover class. We only wish its fuel economy numbers and safety scores were better.

Right For? Wrong For?

Jeep Cherokee

The Cherokee's off-road prowess – especially that of the Trailhawk model – should attract family-oriented weekend warriors.

A long list of active safety options aside, the Cherokee's poor crash-test ratings could turn off safety-conscious buyers.

The Bottom Line

Despite unimpressive fuel economy and middling crash-test ratings, the 2019 Jeep Cherokee is a solid choice in the compact crossover class thanks to an upscale interior, plenty of active safety options, and segment-leading off-road skills.