Jeep Cherokee shows toned down face and turbo four-cylinder in Detroit

Pat Wise
January 16, 2018

Jeep focused on material improvements rather than broader design changes, ditching the boring black plastic around the infotainment system with Piano Black trim and using chrome accents around HVAC vents and other areas.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles unveiled the 2019 Jeep Cherokee with new styling and engine options ahead at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Tuesday.

If you didn't love the Jeep Cherokee's face when it debuted at the end of 2013, then you'll be happy to see this.

"As an SUV brand we need to be able to be successful in that segment", said Mike Manley, global head of Jeep and Ram brands.

There is still more catching up to do.

Sales of the Jeep Cherokee were down around 15 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year, so the redesign couldn't come at a better time for the company.

FCA says it will make the 2019 Jeep Cherokee at the Belvidere Assembly Plant in IL, and that it is due out in the first quarter of 2018. The new lid refocuses the tail by moving the license plate and tailgate handle up in to the center of the liftgate, allowing Jeep to deliver a cleaner, more attractive rear bumper.

2019 Jeep Cherokee
The Cherokee Trailhawk can take you far from the pavement. FCA US LLC

Cars.com's Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. Beginning with styling updates, the Cherokee design team looked to bring more iconic Jeep styling back to the Cherokee. All halogen lights have been replaced by LEDs, even on base models. Though it seems to overshadow the 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6 (271 hp, 239 lb-ft), the latter's 4,500-pound tow rating means it will be sticking around, as will the basic 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder.

Fiat Chrysler SA confirms that the new Cherokee is planned for local launch sometime in the third quarter of 2018, but it's too early to say which models or specifications are destined for our market.

But a new motor has appeared - an Alfa Romeo-derived turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 270 hp but 295 pounds-feet of torque. Items like a redesigned front engine cradle, the aforementioned liftgate redesign and other measures should bump fuel economy up nicely.

All engines are mated to Jeep's nine-speed auto gearbox, but there's a choice of three separate all or four-wheel drive systems depending on derivative.

On the inside, customers will have the option betweeen the 7- or 8.4-inch touchsreen that can come with three different Uconnect systems. This locks the front and rear driveshafts for better crawling and towing. Active Drive Lock adds a locking rear differential for gnarlier off-road conditions. All offer a terrain traction control system with auto snow, sport, sand/mud and rock modes. A polymer tailgate is among the changes that help save 200 pounds. This system is standard on the Trailhawk trim, which is the most off-road focused Cherokee available created to appeal to the true enthusiast.

It was the job of Winnie Cheung, chief interior designer, to add a more premium feel and there are two new interior colors: Storm Blue (available on Latitude and Latitude Plus) and a Dark Sienna earthy tone available on the Overland trim. Each is compatible with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, but only the top tier unit comes with navigation. A welcome touch is the addition of more room for a phone near the charger and the addition of a rear USB port. Behind the rear seats, cargo capacity has climbed from 24.6 cubic feet to 25.8 cubes, although overall cargo space remains the same. Better utilization of interior space provides four more usable cubic feet. Available on the new Jeep are parallel/perpendicular parking assist, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor with cross-traffic detection, and a backup camera to name a few.

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