$17,187 - $26,770

2017 Jeep Cherokee Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Jeep Cherokee was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 7.7

Performance with the 2017 Jeep Cherokee depends on whether you opt for the four-cylinder engine or the V6. The drivetrain matters too, since the extra weight of a four-wheel drive system makes the four-cylinder engine feel even more underpowered. Fuel economy is subpar for the class, and it gets worse with the four-wheel drive system and V6 engine. If you plan to go off-roading, the Cherokee is one of the best in the class at tackling trails, especially with the four-wheel drive system in the Trailhawk trim.

  • … the really surprising thing is that despite its off-road capability - especially the Trailhawk - the 2015 Jeep Cherokee gives up nothing on-pavement, where most drivers will spend their time." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • The Cherokee's personality is more dependent on the drivetrain and option packages than perhaps any Jeep before." -- Popular Mechanics (2014)
  • "There are finally a few current crossovers, the Cherokee among them, that fulfill the first, idealized promise: it really does drive like a car. It sits on the same Compact US Wide platform as the Dodge Dart, and the architecture has given up nothing in the composure department when going from sedan to on- and off-roader." -- Autoblog (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 Jeep Cherokee comes standard with a 184-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission. A 271-horsepower 3.2-liter V6 is optional.

For the Cherokee’s best fuel economy, opt for the four-cylinder engine with front-wheel drive. It returns 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, which is below average for the class. Opting for the V6 and Active Drive II four-wheel drive will deliver power and off-road capability but return the worst fuel economy at 19/26 mpg city/highway.

Models with the four-cylinder power plant feel taxed by the Cherokee’s heavy weight, especially when passing and merging. Acceleration is adequate, but with the quiet V6 option, there’s plenty of power. When you need to make the most of available power with either engine, the nine-speed automatic transmission is quick with its smooth downshifts.

  • More luxurious and certainly more off-road capable than the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 or Ford Escape, the Cherokee's additional weight makes its 4-cylinder engine feel less peppy and spry than these competitors, and its real-world fuel economy is not all that great, either. For those needing power to pass or pull, the 2017 Jeep Cherokee's V6 option is the way to go." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Although the four-cylinder engine has as much horsepower as most rivals' base engines, the Cherokee is heavy for a small crossover SUV, which makes the engine feel sluggish when accelerating up to highway speeds. This engine also has a more raucous sound than other four-cylinders in this class." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "Twisting through canyon roads near Los Angeles, the four proved itself lively enough, but the V6 clearly was stronger and quieter-even if it did give off a nice burble under acceleration. The 9-speed trans kicked down promptly and shifted smoothly." -- Consumer Guide (2014)

Handling and Braking

Some critics claim the Cherokee is tuned for sportier handling rather than a cushioned ride. Others say the Cherokee’s ride is one of the smoothest in the class. At low speeds, it navigates over rough roads with grace, maintaining its excellent sound insulation. Steering is predictable and well weighted, but it’s missing the steering feedback that would make it truly sporty. When taking corners, you’ll notice body lean, creating a heavy feel in this compact SUV. That means it’s not as fun to drive on pavement as some of its competitors, like the Kia Sportage.

  • The Cherokee is exceptionally quiet at highway speeds. And over rough city streets, the Cherokee offers about as cushy a ride as you'll get in this class. The downside is that the Jeep feels heavy and soft when going around turns. Its steering is precise, but the new Cherokee isn't sporty like the Escape or CX-5." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "The electric-assist power steering is fairly direct and predictable, but it lacks the feel and feedback that can contribute to a fun driving character. Handling is typical of the class, with a slightly tall stance that creates some lean in turns and a tendency to understeer when driven hard through corners." -- MSN Autos (2014)
  • "The Cherokee Limited is light on its feet and easy to drive quickly on a rough and twisty road. The chassis seems to be calibrated more for flat handling than a cushy ride. The steering is light at low speed but the effort ramps up nicely as speed increases." -- Popular Mechanics (2014)

Off-Roading

Front-wheel drive comes standard. Four-wheel drive is standard in the Trailhawk and optional in all other models. There are three four-wheel drive systems. First, the full-time Active Drive I comes with a single-speed transfer case. Active Drive II has a two-speed transfer case and low-range gearing for improved off-road ability. Jeep Active Drive Lock, exclusive to the Trailhawk trim, has a locking rear differential for the most capable Cherokee. With any of the systems, Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system features up to five modes.

Compared to many other compact SUVs, the Jeep Cherokee is a more capable off-roader. The Selec-Terrain feature maximizes traction by letting you pick from several different drive modes: Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud, and Rock. Ground clearance in the Cherokee is higher than many others in the class. Trailhawk models are a whole different animal, with all the extra hardware to tackle off-road trails.

  • "You won't find anything like this [Selec-Terrain] on a Honda CR-V or Subaru Forester. The Selec-Terrain system on the 2017 Cherokee uses the vehicle's brakes, traction and stability control and engine-management system to deliver optimal grip on varying road conditions." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "All Cherokees have a bit more ground clearance than the norm, but it's the Cherokee Trailhawk, which earned an ‘A’ rating from our testing department, that stands out for off-road ability. If you have the inclination, the Trailhawk can take on some pretty serious trails, thanks to its advanced 4WD system and rear locking differential." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "Remember, the Cherokee is designed for ‘Dreamers,’ and even the bit of off-roading we did would be a bad dream for most of them. If you know what you're doing, then you can go a lot of places with the new Cherokee. And if you're an expert at going off-road, then... perhaps Jeep can interest you in a Wrangler." -- Autoblog (2014)

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