Few SUVs match on-road performance with off-road chops, but the Jeep Cherokee is one of them. It is comfortable around town, fun on the trails, and comes with the tech features we want. The Cherokee seats five and straddles the line between compact and midsize models.
It’s been two years since Jeep refreshed the Cherokee, by updating its polarizing front fascia with a more pleasing look. Unchanged for 2020, the Jeep Cherokee starts at $25,740, plus a $1,495 delivery fee. Available in eight trims, a top-level Trailhawk Elite costs about $40,000.
The Jeep Cherokee has a rugged look with its trademark seven-slat grille, squared wheel wells, and upright roof pillars. Its high profile, especially in all-wheel-drive guise, makes it ideal for fording shallow creeks. Of course, most of its usefulness is for around-town driving. This model has standard LED lights and fog lights; Jeep offers various design enhancements, depending on the trim and chosen packages, including alloy wheels, all-terrain tires, skid plates, and tow hooks.
Inside, the cabin is open and roomy, offering ample space for five and with approximately 55 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seat folded. A tonneau cover and a carpeted cargo compartment are included within a $1,445 Luxury Package.
Jeep offers standard cloth seats, available leather, and the usual heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated seat options. Full power accessories, climate control, an available panoramic sunroof, and ample storage compartments are features of note.
Tech & Safety
Jeep outfits the Cherokee with either a 7-inch or an 8.4-inch display screen, depending on the trim. The latter offers navigation, but Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility come standard and offer a no-added-cost way to bring you to your destination.
Most models come with a six-speaker audio package; a nine-speaker Alpine system is available. Multiple USB ports, Bluetooth, and satellite radio are included. A 115-volt power outlet is optional.
On the safety front, most driver-assist features are bundled within an available Technology Group package ($1,595), beginning with the Limited trim. Here, Jeep offers such features as automatic high beams, lane departure warning, side distance warning, advanced brake assist, adaptive cruise control with full stop and go, and parking assist. Many of these features are standard with the competing Toyota RAV4.
Your Choice of Three Engines
The Cherokee’s engine offerings begin with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder generating 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. It’s not a strong performer nor is it the most efficient with its 25 mpg rating. Like the other two engine choices, this one works with a 9-speed automatic transmission.
Fortunately, Jeep gives customers two additional engine choices, beginning with a 3.2-liter V6, supplying 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque. You’ll average about 22 mpg, but you’ll also enjoy its best-in-class 4,500-pound tow capacity.
The third choice is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This one makes 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, the latter supplies off-road grunt for your rock-climbing needs. With front-wheel drive, this combination is also the most efficient, delivering 26 mpg.
We’ve driven Jeep models with all three engine choices and recommend either the V6 or the turbo. Choose the V6 if you prioritize towing, but go with the turbo if you want extra power as you tackle rock outcroppings. The top-trim models also offer more comprehensive drivetrain choices, including a locking rear differential for optimum off-road prowess. Not one Jeep competitor can match the Cherokee’s off-road performance.
Jeep Cherokee Considerations
The 2020 Cherokee is a unique player in the small SUV realm. That said, its cost runs higher than competing models. Fortunately, there’s the slightly smaller Jeep Compass to consider, which costs less, although its off-road capabilities are no match for the Cherokee. A 2020 Cherokee with all-wheel drive and the tech and towing packages will cost you about $35,000, and that’s where we’d place our money on this capable off-road machine.
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