In a world that is so chock full of competition, in order to stand out, you have to be really different. The car and truck market is no different. It seems that gone are the days of certain companies trying to specialize in one particular type of car or truck. Nowadays, everyone makes everything. Kia makes sports cars, Porsche makes SUVs, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!
The small SUV market, or perhaps more appropriately called the small crossover market seems to be all the rage these days, and more and more companies are pumping this class full of choices. One of the more recent additions to this class, ironically, has been the company most noted for making SUVs: Jeep. Specifically the Jeep Cherokee. For 2019, the latest Cherokee gets something of a mild revamp to help make it stand out a bit more from the crowded crowd.
The chassis stays basically the same, as does everything past the A-pillars. The one noticeable change to the front end is the upright grill, as compared to the outgoing super-slanted wedge on the previous model. The big news inside the Cherokee is the new 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 under the hood. This Mighty Mouse Motor puts down a whopping 270-horsepower and 295-pound-feet of torque. Crazy power for a fairly small vehicle as SUVs go, weighing in at a relatively slight 3,655 pounds. Oh, and that power by the way, is nearly 100-horsepower more than the Toyota RAV4 or the Honda CR-V, both of which sport about a half-liter more of displacement than that Cherokee. Even with the threat of turbo-lag, the 9-speed transmission handles the challenge very respectfully and keeps the truck in the appropriate rev range most of the time.
Beyond that, the Jeep also comes with true four-wheel drive and opting for the Rubicon option, the Cherokee offers what all the others in this class cannot: True off-roading capabilities. The heritage of Jeep shines through marvelously when the road starts becoming less cohesive and more crumbly, the Cherokee grips the and descends rock walls like a caterpillar. It instill confidence and allows its driver to contemplate paths only Robert Frost may have considered, unless he was driving a RAV4. The 2019 Cherokee is a true off-road capable machine, but it does beg the question: Will anyone care? The idea being that most of the small crossover segment will be nothing more than Millennial moms who want to be able to drive their kids to soccer practice in the rain safely, or feel like a four-season climate is tolerable, and won’t result in having to miss out on a chance to get to Target when there’s three inches of snow on the ground. Basically, has the Cherokee muscled its way out of the segment?
The answer is no. Why? Because like most other cars, we consumers just like knowing that we can do something, without every actually doing in most cases. Guys buy Corvettes with 650-horsepower that can rocket to 200 mph, yet how many of them have ever gotten past 110 mph before? We buy F350 Dually models that can tow and drag tons of payload, yet how many of them every see more than an occasional Home Depot run? The same applies with the Cherokee. While almost no one that buys one will ever need to scale a 45 degree wall of gravel, just knowing that they could is enough to convince them they should buy it over one of the other more … cute … crossovers.
The 2019 Jeep Cherokee has found a way to stand out from a very packed crowd. And with a base price just over 25 grand, it may just be the most utilitarian Utility Vehicle on the market yet.