If you want a small SUV that’s off-road worthy, you’ve come to the right place. The Cherokee has excellent off-roading capability and the Trailhawk trim is the most trail-ready of the bunch. It also has a nicely appointed interior and a surprisingly comfortable ride.
Starting prices for the five-passenger Jeep Cherokee range from $23,695 to $37,695. The Trailhawk starts at $31,195 and is the most capable in the Cherokee line-up. It has the two-speed four-wheel-drive system, Jeep Active Drive Lock with a rear locking differential, hill ascent control, on-off road suspension, and five different terrain settings: auto, snow, sport, sand/mud and rock.
When properly equipped, the Cherokee has best-in-class towing capability of up to 4,500 pounds.
The Trailhawk is powered by a 3.2-liter V6 that makes 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque, paired with a nine-speed automatic. The Trailhawk handles more like a car than SUV, until you corner and then you feel the body lean of an SUV. The ride is very comfortable and surprisingly smooth, tacking rough roads and bumps with ease. I took my parents on a family outing and they kept commenting on how cushy the ride was.
Fuel economy is poor for the class. EPA ratings for my tester are 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway with a combined rating of 21. I got only 18 mpg for the week with more city than highway driving. The stop/start system which is standard on the V6 works pretty seamlessly.
The interior is comfortable and upscale and very nice for the class. Fit and finish on the upper trims rival what you’d find in the more expensive Grand Cherokee. Seats are supportive with good leg- and headroom. Two adults will be comfortable in the back row.
Cloth upholstery is standard. My tester has the optional Nappa leather bucket seats. Either way, the upholstery looks and feels nice. My tester also has heated and ventilated seats and heated steering wheel. All Cherokee models come standard with Jeep’s Uconnect infotainment system with five-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, and USB port. Many options are available including remote start, rearview camera, panoramic sunroof, nine-speaker Alpine audio system, wireless charging pad for your smart phone, and enhanced Uconnect infotainment system with an 8.4-inch touchscreen and navigation. Several driver assistance technologies are available including blind spot monitoring and cross path detection.
Jeep’s Uconnect infotainment system is very user-friendly. Graphics look great, menus are easy to figure out and the system responds promptly to commands, either by voice or touch. There are also good old buttons and knobs for many functions.
The Cherokee Trailhawk has less cargo room than average for the class. There are 24.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 54.9 cubes with the rear seats folded. The rear seats fold flat and can be adjusted forward or backward, so at least you can make the best use of the space you have.
Excellent off-road capability
Smooth, refined ride
Nicely appointed cabin
User-friendly Uconnect infotainment system
Towing capacity of 4,500 pounds – the most in the class
Costs more than many rivals
Lower fuel economy than many competitors
Less than average cargo space for the class
Price can climb quickly
My tester starts at $31,195. Customer Preferred Package 27L is $4,000 and adds premium leather-trimmed bucket seats, power eight-way driver seat, power four-way driver lumbar adjustments, power liftgate, remote start system, keyless entry, A/C auto temperature control with dual zone control, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, windshield wiper de-icer, ventilated front seats, auto-dimming rear view mirror with microphone, power multi-function mirrors with manual fold-away, exterior mirrors with turn signals, exterior mirrors with memory, memory for radio, driver seat and exterior mirrors, security alarm, engine block heater, universal garage door opener, Trailhawk off-road accessory kit and tonneau cover. The Safety Tec Group is $1,155 and adds Parksense rear park assist system, blind spot and cross path detection. The 3.2-liter V6 engine with stop/start technology, 700-amp maintenance-free battery and dual bright exhaust tips are $1,745. The dual-pane panoramic sunroof is $1,755. The enhanced Uconnect system is $1,195 and adds an 8.4-inch touchscreen, navigation and HD radio. The nine-speakers with subwoofer are $595. The 17-inch x 7.5-inch black painted aluminum wheels are $655. Destination charge is $1,095 bringing the grand total to $43,390.
If you want a capable off-road SUV, the Cherokee Trailhawk is ready to go on those outdoor adventures and also provides a smooth and comfortable ride for those daily trips. But poor fuel economy and limited cargo space will make it less appealing to those who want a small SUV for a daily driver.