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2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Plus 4X4 Test Drive Review

In case you haven’t noticed by now, crossovers and SUVs are kind of popular these days. Manufacturers who have made them for decades are filling in size gaps between models. Just look at Ford as an example. The blue oval offers vehicles that range in size from the city-friendly EcoSport to the more spacious Explorer to the massive Expedition MAX. Automakers who never produced sport utility vehicles before, such as Rolls-Royce, have blended their signature features and driving characteristics with plenty of passenger space, ample cargo room, and software and hardware designed to handle anything from bad roads to snow-covered roads to no roads at all.

Perhaps the company that’s most aware of how hot SUVs are right now is Jeep. It should be. Those are what it’s known for and they’re all Jeep makes. As of the end of May of this year, Jeep has already sold more than 400,000 vehicles in the U.S. alone. According to FCA, “Jeep brand total sales rose 29 percent to 97,287 vehicles, making it the best May in the company’s history.” As iconic a brand as Jeep is, it knows that its identity and the off-road capabilities of its vehicles are only part of being a successful automaker. Even its signature vehicles need updating from time to time. The JK Wrangler was an undeniable success, but it eventually aged out and got replaced by the more modern and capable JL model.

It’s the same with the Jeep Cherokee. Jeep brought the legendary nameplate back to the North American market for the 2014 model year on a vehicle that combined a fuel-saving nine-speed automatic with midsize dimensions and class-leading off-road prowess (particularly in the Trailhawk model). As we told you earlier this year, Jeep visually and mechanically enhanced the Cherokee for the 2019 model year by giving it fresh front and rear styling, updated technology, and a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine option. At the North American media launch of the 2019 Cherokee back in February, we drove the high-end Overland and adventurous Trailhawk models around Southern California. A few weeks ago, we spent seven days driving the midrange Cherokee Latitude Plus 4X4 in Austin, Texas.

2019 Jeep Cherokee

2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Plus Exterior

The easiest way to tell the difference between the 2019 Cherokee and its predecessor is by looking at its front end. The LED daytime running lights and LED headlights are now in the same spot and flank the signature Jeep grille, although on the Cherokee it leans back noticeably toward the aluminum hood. A prominent crease in the bodywork spans the distance between the square wheel arches. Our test vehicle filled those with 17-inch alloys surrounded by 225/65R17 Firestone Destination LE2 all-season tires. Designers updated the new Cherokee’s rear end by tweaking the look of the taillights and repositioning the license plate pocket in the center of the lighter, composite liftgate.

2019 Jeep Cherokee

2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Plus Interior

Jeep’s revisions to the inside of the 2019 Cherokee are more subtle than the ones they made to the exterior. Designers re-shaped the front media center hub, which features a USB port and 115-volt outlet, and moved it more rearward. They also enlarged the front storage pocket, which can hold devices that need to be charged by the nearby USB port. The rear cargo hold is now three inches wider than before, bringing luggage capacity above 27 cubic feet. That increase now enables the Cherokee to hold a set of golf clubs.

The Latitude Plus trim line comes standard with an eight-way power driver’s seat, a six-way manual passenger seat, and a 60/40 folding rear seat. Both rows are wrapped in cloth and vinyl. Using the Cherokee’s Uconnect 4 system through the seven-inch touchscreeen to control various functions, including the standard Apple CarPlay feature (Android Auto functionality is also standard) was as quick and easy as it always has been with other Uconnect setups.

Our press loaner was loaded with a variety of options packages. The Comfort Convenience Group added features such as dual-zone climate control, a 115-volt auxiliary power outlet, a power liftgate, and a remote start system. The Cold Weather Group included an engine block heater, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. The nine-speaker audio system had a subwoofer and plenty of bass. Our favorite option was the full-length sunroof, especially when the stars were out. It made the value-focused Latitude Plus trim level feel more luxurious.

2019 Jeep Cherokee

2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Plus Performance

When we attended the media launch of the 2019 Cherokee, we were only able to experience its new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine off-road at low speeds in the Trailhawk model. Fortunately, our week-long Latitude Plus loaner had it as one of its several options. Output is 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque – more than enough to get the Cherokee up to speed in a hurry. We loved how urgently it built power, which is routed through a nine-speed automatic with new software designed to improve drivability.

The Cherokee Latitude Plus is available with either front-wheel drive or the Jeep Active Drive I four-wheel drive system. Our press vehicle had the latter. To save fuel, Jeep Active Drive I only engages the rear axle when necessary. The EPA rated the Cherokee Latitude Plus 4X4 capable of getting 21 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined.** After driving the Cherokee for more than 630 miles, we averaged 23 mpg.

Had we needed to go over anything rougher than pavement, the Selec-Terrain dial to the left of the shifter would have allowed to us to easily traverse snow, sand, or mud with just a twist.

2019 Jeep Cherokee

2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Plus Safety

More than 80 safety features are either standard or available in the 2019 Cherokee. The Latitude Plus trim level is packed with a multitude of airbags, traction control, stability control, Hill Start Assist, tire pressure monitoring, and a backup camera. Thanks to the SafetyTec Group, we were protected by Blind-Spot and Cross-Path Detection and a rear parking assist system that could stop the Cherokee from backing into another vehicle.

2019 Jeep Cherokee

2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Plus Overall

Prices for the extensively updated 2019 Jeep Cherokee start at $23,995.* As equipped, our Latitude Plus 4X4 press vehicle had a sticker price of $35,015.
If it’s time for you to join the millions of other people out there who have an SUV and you just have to have the new and improved 2019 Cherokee, go get it at an AutoNation Jeep dealership.

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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