In a not so distant world, when choosing a car or truck, you had to make hardline choices and essentially choose what kind of driving experience you wanted. If you wanted the fastest version of a Corvette or Camaro, that meant saying good bye to things like air conditioning, and sound deadening material, and back seat in the Camaro’s case. If you wanted a real “trucky” truck, that meant dealing with more than likely a Jeep CJ that was bereft of any amenities outside of an AM/FM radio. Cloth interior, a three speed stick shift, manual brakes and hubs that required the driver to get out and manually lock them before being able to engage true four-wheel drive were just par for the course only a few short years ago. Not exactly family friendly.
But fast forward just a couple decades and we have suddenly transformed those very difficult decisions into easy choices, and in some cases, not a choice at all. The 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is a wonderful example of just how far we’ve come being able to combine two distinctly different worlds, and offering up a very dynamic and multitalented package.
On its surface, the Cherokee looks kind of soft. It has curves and soft edges that make it look a lot like a RAV4 or CR-V than anything resembling a true truck. Inside, it looks even softer with heated and ventilated Nappa leather-trim seats, a heated steering wheel, a centrally mounted 8.4-inch touchscreen that offers up Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and all your infotainment needs, while the Driver Information Digital Cluster Display is able to be customized to suit your personal tastes in feedback. The dual-pane panoramic moonroof overhead provides the visual stimulation much in the same way the 12-channel 506-watt, nine-speaker Alpine stereo system provides the auditory fun. On paper this ‘truck’ is more like a family sedan.
But then, when the going gets tough, you will start to see another side of the Trailhawk. Right off the bat you might not notice the steep 29.9 and 32.2 degree approach and departure angles, but they sure make themselves known when you need them. You might or might not also notice the 2.92:1 low range gearing, locking rear differential or Selec-Speed control knob offers up five distinct terrain choices: Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud, and Rock modes. Not to mention that the engine’s air intake is intentionally located high inside the fender to allow for legitimate river fording, and the massive skid plates underneath the Trailhawk protect everything of value when the going gets real tough.
Power comes not from a gas-guzzling V8 anymore, but a very efficient 3.2-liter DOHC aluminum V6 that makes 271-horsepower and 239 lb-ft of torque that is then backed up by a smooth shifting 9-speed automatic transmission that routes power to all four wheels in judicious fashion. That V6 isn’t a barn burner, running the Cherokee from 0-60 mph in 8.3 seconds and through the quarter mile in 16.4-seconds, but it does help it attain a towing capacity of 2,000 pounds outright or up to 4,500 with the optional towing package. And for a 4,380 pound SUV, nets a very respectable 18/24/21 city/highway/combined MPG,
The Cherokee Trailhawk also offers up plenty of safety features never even imagined a few short years ago in an off-road flavored vehicle. Electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, blind spot monitoring with rear cross path detection, parking assist, and both adaptive cruise control and off-road cruise control to help keep a steady pace no matter what the road conditions look like.
The 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is an amazing example of just how far we’ve come in the automotive world. Gone are the days that you need to choose if you want a tried and true off-road truck to scale mountains or crawl over rock walls, or a civilized on-road family hauler that feels unnerving if a single snow flake hits the windshield. Nope, for just a base price of $35,440, you can have the best of both worlds, and never have to make those kinds of tough choices again. It’s good to be in the future.