2019 Jeep Cherokee Review

A full video review of the 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk and compared to the Latitude model.

The Thompsons Take

Cherokee Trailhawk - The Drum's Still Beating

by Mitchell Weitzman 

Let's cut to the chase: this is not your typical crossover SUV. It's not designed to run to the store, commute to work, drop the kids off, nor cruise the city boulevard. No, it has one real goal in mind - to be able to go anywhere at anytime over anything. Rocks? Sure. Mud? Done. Sand? Bring it on. Meet the Trailhawk, an object so devious the Earth shivers at its approach. The best part though? All those aforementioned things such as commuting and normal car uses, the Trailhawk will do any of those in spades, perfectly. That's the real beauty of what we're dealing with here; a true multi-discipline talent. It's made for the off-road, but it'll do the street just perfectly fine as well.

Technical highlights? Standard, all-wheel drive with selectable terrain modes and low-range gear, a crawl and downhill descent control, and a locking axle. That's the real meat of the Trailhawk. How many other cars have features like that for under forty grand? Zero. Well, besides other Jeeps, that is. An optional eight speed does the shifting for you, while upfront there's either a naturall aspirated 3.2L V6 with 270 horsepower or the optional obligatory 2.0L 4-cylinder fed by a turbo. Power is equal to that of the V6, but it produces significantly more torque at 290, some 45 more than the V6. Which one you prefer is up to you, but more on that later.

Other bits include the Jeep UConnect infotainment system, a touchscreen that is genuinely easy to use and navigate around, if sometimes a little slow to respond. Radio and phone duties are handled with a real lack of effort. Blindspot monitoring is standard on the Trailhawk as well for those concerned with safety.

Outside the car you can distinguish a Trailhawk most easily by the eye-grabbing red tow hooks up front, wider wheel arches, a black hood stripe, black wheels and matte finish on all accent pieces instead of chrome. It really looks the business, having an aggressive demeanor as if it's ready to pounce and leap over the nearest river bed. Taller, all-terrain tires connect you to the asphalt and earth. Purposeful, yet functional hopistality is what the Trailhawk instills visually.

So what's it like? Honestly, pretty good. It's not a rough-and-tumble Jeep like older Wranglers, something that you have to be committed to. Rather, it's quiet, and supremely comfortable and easy to drive. The steering has a nice neutral weighting to it, successfully not falling down the path of too light and too overtly heavy that some many other cars are victim to. It's direct as well, with the Trailhawk responding well to inputs. Driving down a winding canyon pass, placement on the road is remarkably confidence-inspiring as the mass of the car seems to shrink.

Up the pace slightly and the task of pace and hustling do not become a chore, rather somewhat enjoyable as you guide the nose through apexes. There is no push from the front at well at these reasonably sane speeds. Sports car this is not, but driving it like your running a minute late to work is actually enjoyable. An SUV shouldn't be fun to drive on a road like this, right? The attitude of the Trailhawk makes it fun.

The four cylinder turbo in this particular Cherokee lacks a little character and an indulging sound, but the pull once the boost comes on is addicting to play with. The engine is all midrange for power, making real world speed and acceleration easy to attain. The transmission shuffles between ratios amiably, with smooth engagements on upshifts and downshifts.

But say you decide to leave the asphalt, the normal roads, for that of the Earth's natural dressing. That's where the Trailhawk becomes special. Rotate the drivetain control to whatever surface you're on and the 4WD system adjusts electronically for it. Need some real grunt? Click the button for 4-Low. Anything reasonable in front will be soon underneath you. It will nearly idle over anything, not requiring any real throttle input. And at the most extreme of settings, there's the locking axle. There's a reason a 'trail-rated' badge rests upon the front fender. Once you're out of the desert or forest and back on pavement, change it all back and you can drive home in comfort and peace.

So to sum up, the Trailhawk is nicely equipped, well dressed (interior pieces feel like real quality pieces now), and is truly a do-it-all SUV. Nothing else in its price point and class can do everything like it can - be driven normally on the street, yet ready for any adventure you throw at it.

-the Thompsons Take



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