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    2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Drivers' Notes Review | Capable, yet costly


    •   As Tested Price
      $41,245
    The 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is the refreshed version of a model that debuted back in 2014. It was a controversial model. Opinions were mixed on the styling — especially the front fascia — and some considered it an insult to the Cherokee name. Still, we liked that version so much we spent a full year with one. It proved to be a solid and reliable crossover that racked up more than 27,000 miles in just 12 months.

    This refreshed model occupies a strange place in Jeep's lineup. The Cherokee is positioned between both the Compass and Grand Cherokee, though it offers less interior space than either one of those. Pricing on the Cherokee falls right on top of those two models, too, meaning shoppers have to look hard to see what the best fit may be for them. The refreshed styling is certainly less polarizing, though it now means the Cherokee is less distinctive.

    This Trailhawk model is the midsize Cherokee's most rugged variant. It features a beefed-up suspension, more aggressive rubber, new front and rear bumpers, and an enhanced four-wheel drive system. Despite its car-based platform, the Cherokee Trailhawk is still plenty capable, but there is a price to pay for all that capability.

    Editor-in-chief Greg Migliore: I would not buy this Cherokee. With a sticker of more than 41 grand, it's too expensive. You can get pretty capable Wranglers and pretty nice Grand Cherokees for this price point. But, if you really love the Cherokee, this decked-out Trailhawk Elite is kinda awesome. You get all of the Trailhawk aesthetics and off-road prowess — you just have to pay for it.

    The Cherokee is in an interesting spot for Jeep. Even with the 2019 refresh, it's still fairly old, with most of the major elements dating to the 2014 relaunch of the Cherokee model. The Compass is arguably a better deal. It's newer in its lifecycle, starts at a lower price point and offers more cargo volume than the Cherokee.

    That being said, after rolling around town in the Cherokee for a couple nights, I'd probably buy one before I'd buy a Compass. It feels more substantial and more like a Jeep. I like the design. With the smoked grille and exterior trim, meaty wheels and flared fenders, this one looks especially sharp. Besides, the Compass' cargo volume advantage is less than 2 cubic feet.
    Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale: Just as I thought on the first drive, Jeep has made the unibody, independently-suspended Cherokee feel like a truck. And that has pluses and minuses. On the plus side, it does have a fun feeling of being able to bump it around anywhere, particularly in the lifted Trailhawk model we had. Like in the Wrangler, I had an overwhelming desire to simply drive up and over curbs when blocked from an entrance by traffic. The Cherokee's high driving position and good visibility also lent it a truck-like feeling.

    The downside is that it really feels truck-like in the way it handles, which isn't good. It's probably because of the Trailhawk's all-terrain tires, but the steering was even vaguer and squishier than the road-oriented trims I experienced during the first drive event. It's a heavy vehicle that doesn't like to change direction quickly. The suspension is pretty stiff, too, so it's a bumpy, bouncy experience. And you don't get the same style, nearly unmatched trail capability, or open air experience of the Wrangler.

    Gaining back some points is the interior. The Cherokee in general is pretty quiet, and the UConnect infotainment remains among the best in the business (I especially like its redundant physical buttons). I also like how large the sunroof is.

    I would advise against the turbo four-cylinder, though. It's very coarse and buzzy. It also doesn't play well with the nine-speed automatic, which has a tendency to stumble over itself trying to pick the right gears. The torque is nice, but the V6's richer sound and smoother power delivery would make it a better SUV.

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