2020 Jeep Cherokee

Performance


#12 out of 15 in Compact SUVs

MSRP
$25,740
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2020 Jeep Cherokee Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.1

The 2020 Jeep Cherokee is one of the most capable off-roaders among compact SUVs, but it's also a suitable vehicle for your daily commute. There are two potent available engines, and fuel economy is decent. However, the Cherokee is less athletic than its classmates, and its base engine is mediocre at best.

  • "The 2019 Cherokee comes with a choice of three powertrains. The base 2.4-liter Tigershark inline-four and the optional 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 carry over largely unchanged from the previous Cherokee, but new for 2019, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is available – the same one you'll find under the hood of the JL Wrangler, although without the eTorque mild-hybrid system. The V6 puts out 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque, which is plenty for pushing the Cherokee up and over the hills near Malibu, and more than enough grunt for quick merges and passes in notoriously hellacious Los Angeles traffic." -- CNET (2019)
  • "… the 2019 Cherokee isn't meant to carve canyons. It was designed to be a practical daily driver with more off-road capability than any other vehicle in the segment. And in that regard, the Cherokee delivers. Even in non-Trailhawk form, the Cherokee can do things you wouldn't think about attempting in a Rogue." -- Motor Trend (2019)
  • "The refreshed for 2019 Jeep Cherokee is not just a mall crawler, but also a capable mountain tamer too. Try the same trails in a RAV4 or Ford Escape and you'll probably have to call winch-equipped Wrangler for a rescue." -- Automobile Magazine (2019)

Acceleration and Power

The Cherokee comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 180 horsepower. This engine makes the Cherokee feel slow, and acceleration isn't quick off the line or at highway speeds.

There are two available engines: a 271-horsepower 3.2-liter V6 and a 270-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Both deliver better acceleration than the base engine, and the V6 unlocks the Cherokee's maximum towing capacity of 4,500 pounds. These engines don't turn the Cherokee into a speed demon by any means, but they have enough juice for most driving situations.

A nine-speed automatic transmission comes standard with each engine. It shifts smoothly enough most of the time, but it has trouble hunting for the right gear when more power is required. It works better with the turbo-four and V6 engines than with the base four-cylinder.

According to EPA estimates, the Cherokee with the base engine gets 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Those are in line with many competitors' ratings, but they're slightly below average for the compact SUV class. Models with the turbo-four engine get a small bump to 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The Cherokee gets its worst fuel economy with the V6: 20/29 mpg city/highway.

  • "The Cherokee's standard engine is a 180-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that is neither refined nor efficient. The Cherokee's weight makes this engine an undesirable choice, although it does keep the price in line with the competition. You'd be better off with either the 271-horsepower 3.2-liter V6 or the 270-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo. While horsepower for these two options is nearly identical, the turbo offers 56 additional lb-ft of torque needed for passing and rapid acceleration, and it does it all with fuel-economy figures nearly identical to the base 2.4-liter engine. However, the more fuel-thirsty V6 is still the engine to have for towing and hauling, with a 4,500-pound tow rating that exceeds the turbo by 500 pounds. All engines come connected to a 9-speed automatic that's reasonably smooth, but often slow to respond; it's better with the V6 and turbocharged engines." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "… both the turbo and the V-6 offered plenty of power for around-town driving." -- Motor Trend (2019)
  • "Unfortunately, the nine-speed auto's sluggish shifting continues to be a problem. It's reluctant to downshift, especially on hills, and although Sport mode rectifies this to some extent, there are always issues picking a gear. Pairing it with the new turbo-4 doesn't help things, either. When acceleration is demanded, it kicks down at least one gear too many, resulting in a violent punch in the back as short gearing and lots of boost arrive simultaneously. The V6's smooth character seems to fit the nine-speed the best, but really, an entirely different transmission is the answer." -- Autoblog (2019)

Handling and Braking

The Cherokee performs extremely well in off-road settings – it is a Jeep, after all. It can take on trails and challenging terrain that most class rivals can't handle. But it's not just an off-road brute; the Cherokee also is admirable for day-to-day driving.

Nobody would accuse the Cherokee of being a corner carver. This Jeep has slow steering with little response from the road, and there's a lot of body roll around corners, so don't expect to race down winding roads. Front-wheel drive comes standard. Multiple four-wheel-drive systems and an off-road suspension are available.

  • Curves start to throw off the Cherokee, as do situations in which acceleration demands are frequent and heavy. The steering, though weighted decently, is numb and lacks precision. It isn't particularly quick, either, and turn-in isn't eager. There's moderate body roll, too, but the Cherokee does manage to stick pretty well and for longer than you would expect." -- Autoblog (2019)
  • "Regardless of the engine, the Cherokee never felt especially quick, though, and anyone looking for sporty handling should shop elsewhere. There's too much body roll, not enough tire grip, and the brakes are too spongy to have much fun on a winding canyon road." -- Motor Trend (2019)
  • "Of course, the main attribute that sets a Jeep apart from just about all other SUVs is sensational off-road ability. That the Cherokee, which is a crossover engineered for heavier duty 4-wheeling, can tackle challenging off-pavement trails with complete confidence while delivering surprisingly sporty on-road manners speaks to its likeable dual personality." -- New York Daily News (2019)
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2020 Jeep Cherokee

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