Which would you have, an iconic piece of Jeep history or a slice of 21st century technology?
In nearly every quantifiable way, the 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Elite is better than the old, first-generation model. You’d expect that from nearly three decades of progress and development within Jeep. The original Cherokee – the XJ – launched in 1984 as a smaller alternative to Jeep’s larger offerings, particularly the SJ Grand Wagoneer. Jeep continued production until 2002, when subsequent models were named the Liberty. However, the company went back to the Cherokee name in 2014 with the KL generation.
For 2019, Jeep gave the Cherokee a more conservative face, but it still has a versatile off-road kit. But just how much has the revised 2019 Jeep Cherokee KL moved on from its ancestor? At the end of the day, can the old-school XJ’s heritage beat out the KL’s technological superiority? In this video, TFL’s Tommy Mica compares the old versus the new.
Both the 2019 Jeep Cherokee and its 1991 forebear have V6 engines. However, the new Jeep has a 3.2-liter unit with auto-stop start hooked up to a nine-speed automatic. The old Cherokee, by comparison, has a simpler 4.0-liter engine mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. That said, while the old-school option here is not as technologically advanced or efficient, it does have a well-earned reputation for reliability.
The 2019 Jeep Cherokee’s V6 makes 271 horsepower and 239 lb-ft of torque. The old warhorse makes about 190 horsepower and 225 lb-ft of torque. Even though the XJ is substantially lighter, it’s about two seconds slower to 60 mph. It makes the sprint in 11.95 seconds, to the 2019 Jeep Cherokee and its 9.96-second run.
Space and tech
You’d expect the new Cherokee to perform much better than the XJ on the road. That said, there are some areas where the old model comes out ahead. On space, for instance. Since the 1991 Jeep Cherokee XJ sports such a boxy design, it is roomier than the 2019 model. It has 11 more cubic feet of cargo capacity with the seats in place, and nearly 20 cubic feet more with the seats folded.
However, where the old model wins on space, the new Cherokee wins the tech and safety race. The 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Elite has a wide range of systems available in its off-road kit. There’s an option of selectable drive modes, including a rock mode, a locking rear differential and hill descent control, as well as crawl control. The XJ does have the option of selectable four-wheel drive, but the rest is up to the driver.
The 1991 Jeep Cherokee XJ was fairly well-equipped for its time. With power windows and locks, air conditioning and even a trip computer, it does offer some creature comforts. You can also buy one today much cheaper than a 2019 Cherokee, although this model did cost about the same as the new model back in the day, when you adjust for inflation. The 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, as equipped, costs $40,245.
Which one would you have? Let us know in the comments! Check out the video above to find out more, and come back to TFLcar.com for more news, views and real-world reviews.