2019 Jeep Cherokee
To say that the styling of the reborn 2014 Jeep Cherokee was polarizing is an understatement. Well for 20-19 Jeep has tried to bring the “love it” and “hate it” folks a little closer together, although technically, the latest Cherokee is just a mid-cycle refresher. Still, there’s much more going on than just a styling mea culpa.
As is often the case, while many reviewers and bloggers gave the car-based squint-eyed Jeep Cherokee a hard time, it has actually done very well for the brand. Even outlasting the Dodge Dart that it was based on, and more importantly bringing many new people into the brand as first-time Jeep owners. The 2019 edition looks to broaden that appeal even more, while also attempting to more endear itself to the Jeep faithful.
While there already was a choice when it came to the engine, either a 2.4-liter I4 or a 3.2-liter V6; Jeep has added another option into the mix, a 2.0-liter turbo that outputs 270-horsepower, just one less than the V6, and 295 lb-ft. of torque, 56 more than the 6.
But even with that extra torque, it’s still the V6 that rates the highest towing capacity, at 4,500-lbs; very good for the segment. The 2.0-liter however, does feel incredibly powerful for a vehicle of this size, and indeed it has 80 more horsepower than you can get in a Honda CR-V.
Like the rest of the engines, it works with a 9-speed automatic. But, unlike in earlier versions of Cherokee, the 9- speed is much smoother and more determined in shift points. It makes this Cherokee drive almost like a totally different vehicle.
And no other cute ute in its price class can hang with Cherokee when the pavement ends. There are even 3-different Active Drive 4X4 systems to choose from. Now, some may question the need for all of that, since most Cherokees will never set rubber on anything but asphalt; but it’s a Jeep thing, and Jeep wants to make sure that is indeed still a thing. Opt for the Trailhawk, and its 1-inch of lift, if that is truly your thing as well.
Chief among the updated styling elements is a new front end that falls more in line with Jeep’s upright and conservative past. A new hood as well; and of course updated lighting. There are also some new wheel options, and even better, a lighter liftgate with hands free operation.
The cargo area has been reconfigured a bit. Space is up to 27.6 cubic-ft. from 24.6; max capacity with seatbacks folded stays about the same, at 54.7.
There’s some upgraded interior trim up front; as well as some new color choices, and the latest version of UConnect.
As for what the new 2.0-liter adds to your get-up-and-go, well it gets to 60 in 6.7-seconds. Not screaming fast, but quick for a utility; and about ½ a second quicker than what you’d expect to get from the V6.
Good snap off the line, great traction, and spirited punch from the boosted 4-banger, which likes to rev up quickly. It sounds eager and sporty as well, while the 9-speed clicks through gears comfortably but directly. The ¼-mile ends in 15.2-seconds at 90 miles-per-hour.
No major changes to the suspension, but we had high hopes that a little less engine weight over the front wheels, would work some magic on the handling side.
Well, no magic; steering is still slow and understeer present. But, grip is very solid and body sway minimal for its class.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 2.0-liter with four-wheel-drive are 21-City, 29-Highway, and 24-Combined; though Premium is recommended. That makes for an average Energy Impact Score; using 13.7-barrels of oil yearly, with C02 emissions of 6.1-tons.
Pricing starts at $26,935 for front-wheel-drive, which is a considerable step up from our ‘14’s base price of around $24,000; though that entry level Sport model is no more; leaving the much better equipped Latitude as the new base model. All-wheel-drive adds another $1,500, and things top out with Overland trim at $37,470.
Old style, new style, doesn’t really matter; the 2019 Jeep Cherokee is a wildly popular utility that seems to be attracting both compact as well as midsize buyers due to all of its capabilities. The skin may now be a bit less controversial, but the Cherokee is one adventure vehicle that harkens back to what SUVs were all about from the beginning; go anywhere vehicles that you can live with day in and day out.
- Engine: 2.0 liter
- Horsepower: 270
- Torque: 295 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 15.2 seconds @ 90 mph
- EPA: 21 mpg city / 29 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 13.7 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 6.1 tons/yr
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT
It’s An SUV On A Track, Deal With It
When we started testing cars 43-years ago, hot rod SUVs like this Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT were not on our radar. Back in those days, utility vehicles were trucks and Porsches were cars. But times have changed, and the only place to make sense of it all is at a racetrack, so hop in and join us for some high-performance haulin’.
Now, most would say the high-performance SUV is a relatively new phenomenon, but we’ve been testing them for over 30-years now, going back to the GMC Typhoon. If you don’t remember that one, we’d suggest Googling it, purely for the nostalgia of it, as this 2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is on a totally different level.
This SUV is an SUV in shape only, as a lot of its hardware as well as the driving experience are much more akin to a pure sports car… ah la the 911.
Starting with the Coupe version of Porsche’s largest SUV, which benefits from a mid-cycle styling refresh for ’24, the Turbo GT adds a carbon-fiber roof, big wing with side planes, rear diffuser, and a sport exhaust system with titanium tailpipes.
Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control is also included, making body-roll almost non-existent; and with the help of a new two-valve air suspension setup it was all traction all the time through the high-speed turns of Savannah’s Roebling Road Raceway. Though unlike last gen, if you’re aggressive enough with the throttle, you can get the rear to step out on you a little. Rear-axle steering is also included and the best praise we could heap on steering feel and feedback through corners is that it feels like a Porsche.
Tires are also wider than before: 315/35 Pirelli P Zeros in back, mounted on 22-inch GT Design wheels. The brakes behind are comprised of enormous carbon-ceramic composite discs with monster yellow calipers…
…and they truly were impressive on track, hauling this 5,000-pound, luxury-minded performance utility down from triple-digit speeds lap after lap without wavering.
This SUV is an SUV in shape only, as a lot of its hardware as well as the driving experience are much more akin to a pure sports car... ah la the 911.
Equally impressive is the powerplant that initiates those high speeds, Porsche’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 which cranks out 19 horsepower over last year for a total of 650; torque output remains the same, at 626 lb-ft. All-wheel drive is standard, as is an 8-speed automatic trans, which helps the Turbo GT get up to speed in a hurry; 3.1-seconds to 60, to be exact. That’s a couple of tenths slower than the first-gen Turbo GT we tested 2 years ago, but we’ll chalk that up to testing that one on a well-prepped drag strip versus this trip down Roebling Road’s slippery front straightaway on a 40-degree day. And it gained time back quickly, as our 11.3-second quarter-mile time was only a tenth slower, finishing at 124 mph.
Other notable changes for ’24 include a new dash and control layout for the interior. The highlight is a new 12.6-inch curved digital gauge display; it’s joined by a central touchscreen that sits higher up and is nestled into the dash more than before.
No more actual shifter in the console, as it’s been replaced with Porsche’s toggle switch gear sector which resides on the dash to the left of the touchscreen. That means a new console layout with additional storage space and new controls. While none of that helps lower lap times, it all provides a much more useful and better overall environment than before, for that time spent behind the wheel commuting or just sitting in traffic.
Front and rear seats are comfortable yet sporty feeling; and while it does do a lot of SUV-like things pretty well, the coupe body shape does limit rear cargo capacity to 20.3 cubic feet, expanding to 52.4 with rear seatbacks folded; and the central-mounted exhaust does negate adding a tow hitch.
No matter how you look at it, the Cayenne Turbo GT is an insane vehicle, but it also comes with an insane price tag, starting at $197,950. So essentially, that’s six-figures worth of high-performance hardware jammed into an already impressively capable standard Cayenne… an SUV made much better with comprehensive updates front to back for all ’24 Porsche Cayennes.
It easily remains the standard bearer for luxury-minded utility vehicles, evidenced by recently earning our Drivers’ Choice Award for Best Luxury Utility. But it’s this 2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT that really impresses the most as the ultimate track-focused SUV money can buy. You may not need it, but you know you want it!
- Engine: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8
- Horsepower: 650
- 0-60 mph: 3.1-seconds
- Starting Price: $197,950
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 625 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 11.3-seconds at 124 mph
2024 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Bringing Supercar Performance To The Street…American Style
What happens when you let enthusiasts and engineers worry less about tradition and allow them to do what they do best? You get cars like this Chevrolet Corvette Z06. What happens when GM let’s us borrow one for a few days? That’s what we’re about to find out!
While the Z06 package first became an option for the Chevrolet Corvette back in 1963, it wasn’t until the C5 that it describe the ultimate track-focused ‘Vette. And while since then every Z06 has gotten more extreme, if we were plotting things out on a graph, this is where the line of performance progression goes from a steady incline to almost vertical. Yes, the latest C8 Z06 is all that.
It starts with a brand new LT6 5.5-liter DOHC V8 that outputs 670-horsepower and delivers 460 lb-ft. of torque. It sounds great too, the very aggressive nature of its flat-plane crank design has it sounding, and feeling like it’s trying to shake its way out of the engine bay unless you unleash some of its furry.
This dual-cammer featured a dry-sump design from the get-go and is more racing engine than souped-up small block, being developed originally for the C8.R race car.
It made short work of Roebling Road Raceway’s long front straight, able to reach 160 by the end of it. With Hellcats no longer rolling off the assembly line, this is easily our new favorite V8.
But, as you can imagine, Chevy has done much more than just plop a bigger motor into its rear-midship engine bay, which was easier to do since they didn’t have to worry about anyone seeing over it. They’ve addressed just about every part of the car to ensure it puts that power to best use for coming out of corners like few other cars on the street.
That includes upgrades for the short/long arm double wishbone suspension setup that can be further enhanced with an available Z07 Performance Package that adds more aggressive tuning for Magnetic Ride Control, and Michelin Sport Cup 2R tires. Which can be mounted on 20 and 21-inch carbon fiber wheels with carbon ceramic brakes nestled behind.
It all translated into more grip than a semi’s worth of industrial strength Velcro through Roebling’s 9-turns.
With Hellcats no longer rolling off the assembly line, this is easily our new favorite V8.
Like most Corvettes, the Z06 can be as wild or mild of an experience as you care to make it but will most likely be the fastest car to show up at most track days. Yet, the same magnetic dampers that void all body roll on the track, provide an almost plush ride quality for the drive home, though not quite as plush as the standard Corvette.
We’re struggling to find something non-fan boy to say; sure the 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox doesn’t deliver shifts with the brutality of some exotics, but really, they’re just as fast, and the shifts are much smoother.
Believe it or not, almost all the body is unique. So, rather than just tacking on some fender flares, Chevy made the entire car wider to cover the 345 rear tires, yet keep the same uniform look in place.
The optional Carbon Fiber Aero Package adds a front splitter, rocker extensions, front dive planes, and a huge rear wing. We’re not sure if the multi-level nature of that rear wing was done for functional or aesthetic reasons, but it doesn’t block your rearview, and that is much appreciated.
We always talk about torque being more important than horsepower when it comes to acceleration, and the Z06 works with almost 200 fewer lb-ft. of torque than horsepower, but you sure wouldn’t know it when you mash the throttle.
Easy to use programmable launch control allows you to dial in your preferred RPM for launching; we found 4,500 was just about perfect for Roebling’s front straight, allowing for just a tiny bit of slip before rocketing us to 60 on a 40 degree day in just 2.6-seconds.
Power continues to pour on hard as the engine quickly hits its 8,600 RPM redline, and gear changes happen often. The sound inside the cabin in intense, and when the ¼-mile came to an end in 10.7-seconds at 130 miles-per-hour, it felt like it was just getting started.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are a low 12-City, 19-Highway, and 14-Combined.
For the Z06 there are 3 LZ pricing points to land on, starting at $114,395; but you can go with the top-of-the-line Z06, add 50-grand worth of options, and still come out half the price of anything you can compare it to.
Call us home teamers all you want, but America’s only exotic does it yet again, not only is it the best Corvette ever, but it is also easily one of the greatest American cars of all time, arriving at a particularly poignant time culturally as we mourn the potential loss of internal combustion engines altogether. So, come for the spectacular engine and stay for the complete performance package, and experience, that is the Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
- Engine: 5.5-liter V8
- Horsepower: 670
- 0-60 mph: 2.6 seconds
- EPA: 12 City | 19 Highway | 14 Combined
- Transmission: 8-speed dual clutch auto
- Torque: 460 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 10.7-seconds at 130 mph