$18,509 - $27,441

2018 Jeep Cherokee Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Jeep Cherokee was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 7.8

On the plus side, the 2018 Jeep Cherokee has superb off-road chops, a smooth on-road ride quality, and a competent available V6 engine. However, its standard engine is sluggish, and its fuel economy ratings are among the lowest in the class.

  • "The Trailhawk gives up a little in ultimate handling and acceleration in return for off-road capability that's a cut above any other crossover. It's still nicely balanced. Those who don't go off-road can get the Latitude or Limited versions." -- Edmunds
  • If you have your heart set on [a Cherokee], get the 3.2-liter V6 in Limited trim. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder is slow and gets lousy fuel economy for the class at just 22 mpg overall. The nine-speed automatic is not all that responsive or refined." -- Consumer Reports (2017)
  • "Even in its most formidable trim level - that being the rugged Trailhawk - the Cherokee surrenders nothing in the way of comfort or handling. When the need arises, however, the Cherokee's low-range mode and three different 4-wheel-drive systems permit everything from light off-roading to rock crawling through passes unnavigable by most Cherokee rivals." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The Cherokee's standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine has a 184-horsepower rating. It takes time for this engine to get the Cherokee up to speed, partly because this SUV is heavy for its size. The four-cylinder tends to drone at highway speeds. Jeep also offers a 271-horsepower 3.2-liter V6 engine, which feels much more capable for passing and towing. Both are mated to a smooth-shifting, though sometimes tentative, nine-speed automatic transmission.

With either engine, fuel economy is below average. The four-cylinder gets 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. The highway rating drops by 1 mpg for the V6, but because it requires a higher grade of gasoline, annual fuel costs are about $250 higher.

  • The Cherokee's nine-speed transmission serves up smooth upshifts and ready downshifts. Initial throttle response is subdued, making for easy low-speed control. Note, however, that this transmission is not as well suited to the four-cylinder engine." -- Edmunds
  • The standard 4-cylinder engine is adequate but runs out of energy at highway speeds and tends to drone at higher revs. The 3.2-liter V6 brings extra punch without drinking too much gas; it also has a stop/start function. The 9-speed automatic transmission (still quite a novelty) rarely makes its presence felt. But if asking for full power in a passing situation, it sometimes hesitates before finding the right gear." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • 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 (2017)

Handling and Braking

To see the high points of the Cherokee's handling, you need to venture off road. This compact SUV can keep up with rugged rivals, and the Trailhawk edition comes equipped with trail-ready components for extra grip, including a four-wheel drive system with low-range, an off-road suspension, a rear locking differential, and five terrain modes (Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud, and Rock).

On paved roads, the Cherokee feels stable. Its suspension soaks up most harsh jolts from rough roads but does allow a bit of body roll in the corners. Overall, the ride is comfortable though not sporty.

  • "Despite appearances, the off-road-ready Trailhawk isn't more harsh or uncomfortable than an SUV meant solely for street duty. It remains a comfortable and quiet machine you could happily drive every day." -- Edmunds
  • "Jeep claims the Cherokee Trailhawk negotiated the famed and daunting Rubicon Trail, which we have no reason to doubt. This is a highly capable vehicle over the dirt. Realistically, though, the vast majority of Cherokees will keep to the tarmac, and on-road behavior is just as impressive. Road noise is less prominent than this segment's norm, and the ride remains smooth, even on rutted roads. The handling is safe and secure, thanks to a car-based platform." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • Handling is competent, but short on agility and the ride is jittery." -- Consumer Reports (2016)

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