Everybody, everybody, get over here! Drop what you’re doing! Surgeons, fling those scalpels to the ground! Pilots, land wherever you can, immediately! I have super-important taillight news and shaming to conduct here, and everyone needs to pay attention! Everyone here? Good, because it has come to my attention that the taillight design of the 2019 and 2020 Jeep Cherokee has some severe design flaws, and, as you know, this is the sort of thing I can not keep quiet about. So let’s get to it.
First, it should be pointed out that Jeep appears to be quite pleased with the new taillight design, as they have a special little section on their website just to show them off:
Now the problem isn’t aesthetics; they’re attractive taillights, with a nice swoopy LED taillight section and inset LED rectangular sections for the various functions, and the overall whole looks clean and modern and sleek. The look is fine.
The problem is how the taillights work, specifically, how that taillight real estate is divided up. I think the best way to explain is to start by showing you the problem, which has very fortunately been documented on video already:
See what’s happening here? The problem is with the relationship of the turn indicators and the brake lamps. The Cherokee has amber rear turn indicators, which is great, but the problem is that, for some unfathomable reason, Jeep’s taillight team decided to have the brake and turn sections of the taillight share the same area.
Now, look, back in the days of crappy, cheap-arse, one-bulb-does-everything taillights, this may have been acceptable—in some cases even elegant—but that is not the era we live in.
Sure, back in the days of shitty taillights, we all just accepted that you’d lose the brake light on whatever side was indicating a turn, and if you had your hazard lights on, you wouldn’t really have brake lights at all. These are not ideal situations.
That’s why so many cars, even ones that kept red rear indicators, designated separate sections and bulbs to turn signals and brake lamps. It just made sense, since turning on one function wouldn’t have to mean the loss of another.
The famous 1980s XJ Cherokees used this solution, generously providing individual sections for brake and turn indicator, for example.
Modern LED taillights like these have none of the restrictions of the old lights—the LEDs can change from red to amber if needed, and these new taillight designs offer plenty of places to house separate brake and turn signals.
And, yet, for some baffling reason, the brake and turn signals on the new Cherokee taillight are both crammed into the same area! So, if you’re braking and turning, you’re losing a brake light, and if your hazards on and you brake, you have only the high-mount CHMSL to let people know you’re stopping.
Why? It makes no sense!
The reverse lamps here take up three sections on the taillight, and there’s one section that appears dormant—maybe it’s for a rear foglamp?
I suppose the designers wanted to have the brake and turn signal visible if the tailgate was up—even so, they couldn’t have figured out another way to divide up the lens area to allow both at once? This just feels lazy, and there’s no excuse for it.
So, I’m calling you out, Jeep Cherokee taillight designers. I know you can do better than this. Maybe the lower reflector could have housed the brake lamps, or the area on the body could have been a bit larger, or a vertically-oriented design could have been attempted—anything but this.
I encourage everyone to remain calm and not resort to violence or uncouth attacks. We will get through this.
(Thanks to Mister Wildcat!)