When Jeep unveiled the Cherokee back in 2014, the pot known as “controversy” had been stirred quite vigorously over its looks. A leaked, grainy photo of a Trailhawk model didn't help matters. After the fuss calmed down some 4 years later, Jeep has updated the Cherokee and did more than add Botox to the face. Thanks to RMAP's annual RMDE driving event, I got to see what this new Cherokee was all about.
Before I get into the Trailhawk, I need to preface the article with this: The Trailhawk we had didn't have the 2.0-liter Turbo. Yes, we only had the 3.2 V6. As unfortunate as that might've been, it was what we had. Anyway, here's what I thought of the Cherokee Trailhawk...
The Engine Is Good.
I'd love to talk about how admirably the engine performed when pulling onto the highway, but I can't. As David (a Journalist I was riding with), didn't step on the gas that hard. With that being said, he did get up speed relatively quickly. I don't know how far he was into the throttle but I was expecting a bit more grunt. Then again, one could say my words about how David didn't seemingly need to get into the throttle all that much is a testament to the engine's power. Outside of this, the engine was quiet and smooth.
Of course, you can't talk about the engine without also talking about the transmission. Simply put, the 9-speed did a splendid job. Shifts were pretty much if not unnoticeable. The overall combo of the 3.2 V6 and the 9-Speed auto should be more than enough for the average driver on a daily commute or in some less-than-whimsical snow.
Despite The Off-Road Tires, On-Road Comfort Was Pleasant.
Yes, even with the aggressive tread pattern, the Cherokee performed impressively on the road. It soaked up the bumps without fuss and handled the highway cruise like a champ. The road noise did catch me off guard a little though. Then again, the Trailhawk has off-road specific tires. Normal Cherokees with on-road oriented tires would probably be a bit quieter. So I suppose “noticeable” road and or wind noise is to be expected.
The Interior Is Satisfying.
Remember the days back in the early 2000s when Chrysler Group interiors left a lot to be desired? Those days are thankfully long gone. The 2019 Cherokee's interior, in terms of materials, is on par with that of the Tiguan Limited. I know this because our family has a Tiguan Limited. While there are some designs elements I prefer in the Tiguan compared to the Cherokee (specifically how there's visually less plastic where the door handle is in the Tiguan than in the Cherokee), the Cherokee holds up and even beats the Tiguan Limited in other areas. The dash design is one of those areas. To me it's more modern, has the (undoubtedly) superior infotainment system and, while this could be me nitpicking, I think the “redundant controls” are better in the Cherokee too. The Tiguan Limited's buttons are wider in diameter but they don't have the depth that the Cherokee does. As a result, I imagine using the controls with gloves on would be more difficult in the Tiguan than in the Cherokee, as you simply don't have as much surface to grab.
To the VW's credit, it does have a roomier interior. The Cherokee has good legroom, but the Tiguan Limited has more. The shoulder room is pretty good in the Cherokee, but it's the same story here too. On the whole, I'd give this one to the Cherokee. Nevertheless, the Cherokee could do with a slightly bigger interior.
The Verdict: The Cherokee Trailhawk is a solid package with actual off-road capabilities. It's comfortable, pretty quiet on the road, has a potent engine in the 3.2 V6 and a nice looking interior with one if not the best infotainment systems in the industry. The only thing I really have a problem with is interior space, which will hopefully be addressed in the next-gen Cherokee.
Thanks for reading! See you soon.