2019 Jeep Cherokee: Turbo or V6?

During a brief discussion with Scott Tallon, Director of U.S. and Global Jeep Product Marketing Coordination at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, it was clear that for the brand, the compact SUV’s refresh arrived a perfect time.

First of all, FCA categorises the 2019 Jeep Cherokee as a midsize vehicle, but that segment already includes the Jeep Grand Cherokee. In a compact SUV category, we already find the the Jeep Compass. As for the Jeep Renegade, it measures up to its rivals in the subcompact class. The Cherokee ends up straddling two segments, but in regards to dimensions and powertrains, it’s a more logical fit alongside the Honda CR-V, the Toyota RAV4, the Nissan Rogue and such.

For 2019, the Cherokee obtains a turbocharged and direct-injected, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Meanwhile, the 3.2-litre V6 has 271 hp and 239 lb.-ft. By the way, the base engine remains the 2.4-litre four, which produces 180 hp and 170 lb.-ft.

In all cases, including the new 2.0L engine, the only available transmission is a nine-speed automatic. The latter has been through its share of issues in recent years, especially a lack of refinement that translates into harshness during gear changes. FCA says the transmission has been improved, so we’ll have to see this year if that’s really the case.

The V6 engine being far from an example of fuel efficiency, should the 2.0-litre turbo become the logical choice? Yes and no.

Off the bat, the V6’s towing capacity can reach 4500 pounds (2041 kilograms) with the vehicle is properly equipped. The turbo four’s pulling capacity is limited to 4000 lbs. (1814 kg). Advantage: V6.

The asking price for the 2.0-litre engine hasn’t yet been announced, but we know it’ll cost more than the V6. In the 2018 Cherokee, the latter required an extra investment of $1,595. For now, advantage: V6.

The four-cylinder turbo should normally be more efficient than the V6, but unlike the same-displacement engine that’s offered in the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL, this one isn’t equipped with the company’s mild hybrid system called eTorque. According to Mr. Tallon, it wasn’t physically possible to add the eTorque components in the current generation of the Cherokee. And it would’ve raised the price even more. Avantage: 2.0-litre four-cylinder, theoretically.

Since Jeep products are now available in numerous countries around the world—150 countries, according to Mr. Tallon—with a potential of nine million sales annually, the company certainly wants to please markets that embrace more-efficient powertrains, and the 2.0L turbo should be a popular choice. And since the 3.2-litre V6 is unique to the Cherokee—all other FCA products equipped with V6 engines use the 3.6-litre unit—it’s possible that it will eventually be removed from the options catalogue.

The four-cylinder turbo will be optionally available in many trim levels of the 2019 Jeep Cherokee, whether it’s matched to front-wheel or all-wheel drive. FCA expects that 15% to 20% of buyers choose it, so we’ll see if consumers will prefer it over the V6, an engine type that’s becoming a rarity in the compact SUV segment. The refreshed Cherokee will go on sale this spring.

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