In the auto industry, the word “freshening” refers to updates of an existing vehicle for a coming model year. It’s understood that a freshening stops short of a major makeover, and generally occurs midway through a product cycle. But like so many industry terms, it’s a word with considerable elasticity.

Due to begin reaching Jeep dealers in February, the 2019 Jeep Cherokee is an example of freshening taken to the threshold of a next generation design. The basic architecture is the same, as are the chassis dimensions and some powertrain elements, but almost everything else is new or updated.

New 2.0 Turbo

While the current engines, as well as the 9-speed automatic transmission carry over, arguably the newest of the new elements is an all-new engine—a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder nourished by direct injection and turbocharging.

That brings the Cherokee engine inventory to three, with the new 2.0-liter joining the basic 2.4-liter Tigershark four (180 horsepower, 170 lb-ft of torque) and the familiar 3.2-liter Pentastar 3.2-liter V6 (271 hp, 239 lb-ft). The V6 continues to be the Cherokee’s towing champ, rated for up to 4,500 pounds.

Appearing more or less simultaneously in the redesigned Wrangler, the boosted gasoline engine is a first for Jeep, and its robust output—270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque—is expected to make it a performance rival for the tried and true V6.

There have been hints that a diesel option may join the powertrain choices in a year or so, but the Jeep publicity team had no comment on that possibility as the new Cherokee was revealed at Detroit’s North American International Show.

There are three 4-wheel drive options—this is a Jeep, after all—and the systems include a rear-axle disconnect feature, automatically taking 4WD off line when it’s unneeded, enhancing fuel economy.

Also: Check out the latest news from the Detroit Auto Show

Authentic styling

Exterior updates include the predictable restyled fascias, readily identifiable by the trademark seven-slot vertical grille. Jeep publicity materials characterize the look as “authentic.” But freshening details go beyond that, to a wider stance, new LED headlight design, augmented by LED daytime running and fog lamps. The aluminum hood is new, as is the lightweight rear hatch, which includes the option of the popular foot-swipe power opening feature. There’s LED lighting at the rear, too, as well as a new capless fuel filler. There are also new bright elements highlighting the revised front fascia, particularly lavish on the new Overland trim.

As you’d expect of a Jeep, the Cherokee’s approach and departure angles are off-road optimized, and ground clearance as well as suspension travel is substantial at both ends on all trim levels. This is particularly true of the Cherokee Trailhawk with its 31-inch off-road tires.

Also: Get your first look at the new and redesigned cars of 2019

Interior upgrades

The interior sports upgraded materials, more soft touch surfaces, and splashes of piano black highlighted by satin chrome trim. A redesigned center console is equipped with a USB port and 115-volt power outlet, and the new setup allows improved stowage for smart phones. Similarly, there’s more storage for small objects, as well as more cargo space behind the rear seats, 27 cubic feet, up 3 cubic feet from the current Cherokee.

Higher trims offer indulgences such as premium audio, a dual pane sunroof, heated and ventilated Nappa leather-clad power seats, and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a real boon in wintry climates.

Like other FCA vehicles, the Cherokee offers upgraded infotainment and connectivity with the latest edition of the corporate Uconnect systems, supported by 7.0-inch or available 8.4-inch center dash touch screens. Operating options include remote locking and unlocking, as well navigation and compatibility with Android Auto or Apple Car Play. Safety and security features include improved systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus, with emergency braking, and Forward Collision Warning-Plus, which is capable of bringing the Cherokee to a stop even when the cruise control is disengaged.

With the addition of the Overland model at the premium end of the lineup, there will be five trims in the 2019 lineup: Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, Overland, and the Trail-rated Trailhawk. 

2019 Jeep Cherokee Exterior and Interior Pics

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