SUV Review: 2020 Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep Cherokee is a good sports car, but would you really take it over the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4?

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It’s a crazy time in the car world. Ford is building a better sports coupe than Jaguar, some of the most exciting new luxury cars come from Korea, and the Jeep Cherokee is less “jeep-like” than its competitors. Strange times, actually.

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The Cherokee nameplate has a long and varied history with the Jeep, but today it is attached to their entry into the controversial and highly competitive compact crossover segment. Our tester is the almost fully loaded High Altitude model; in the 1970s it meant you had a unique catalytic converter and emissions system, but today you get a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, black and gray exterior accents, 19-inch wheels, FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system with GPS navigation and an 8.4 -inch touch screen, and an alpine stereo with nine speakers with a subwoofer. It apparently also comes with special gray accent stitches, but you have to squint quite carefully to see it contrast with the very black interior.

Cherokee accumulates many wins inside. There are soft materials anywhere you want to touch, and the seats are very comfortable. I’ve been nagging about the FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system before, and it’s in line with the Cherokee. It’s one of the best in the industry, and I like how it combines touch screen commands with physical knobs and switchgear – there are even buttons on back on the volume dial and preset radio stations. All these redundant controls mean that you can choose things in which way you think is most convenient. Pairing my phone was never a challenge, and the quality of the sound system was very good. I give the Alpine unit a Clayton rating of 7.5 out of 10.

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Compare Jeep Cherokee against Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 here

The only thing more comfortable than the Cherokee seats is the ride – and I have to admit that this was very unexpected. My first experience with a Cherokee was completely off-road and it blew through mud holes with such authority that I simply was not prepared for so much softness and sophistication on the sidewalk. It runs better than the Honda CR-V and even the Toyota RAV4. When you consider that the CR-V seats are rock hard in comparison, the Cherokee is one of the most comfortable vehicles in this segment. In many ways, the RAV4 drives more like old jeeps!

Depending on which trim level you choose and which options you choose, there are three motors available. At the bottom of the steps we have a naturally sucking 2.4-liter inline-four with 180 horsepower. The nicest thing I can say about that engine is that it provides basic motivational power. By and large, the only reason you choose it is if you have a very tight budget.

Next on the list is the 3.2L Pentastar V6. It’s an engine’s absolute darling and one of my personal favorites. Torquey down low and peppy up top, Pentastar is a smooth worker and sounds good when you do. As more and more competitors turn to turbocharged four-cylinder engines, the Pentastar is a bit of a standout in the class. It provides 271 horsepower and 239 lb.-ft. of torque, and I would consider it a perfect match for the Cherokee.

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However, this tester did not have my beloved Pentastar. Instead, you can pay an additional $ 995 to decorate your engine compartment with a 2.0L turbo-four that provides 270 horsepower and 295 lb.ft. of torque. To be fair, it’s a decent bump in torque, but it’s also exactly one horsepower less than the V6, and for that privilege you have to drive premium fuel. It’s also not as agile as the V6, and I honestly would not specify this engine in front of the V6 same price, let alone for almost $ 1,000 extra. V6 is standard on High Altitude.

Cherokee’s closest rival is the Honda CR-V. The Cherokee starts at $ 31,045 for the most affordable FWD model, while an AWD Cherokee will put back at least $ 35,540. The CR-V beats the Cherokee by $ 2,355 to $ 28,690 to start, while for Honda the top-level CR-V Touring would be closest to our High Altitude tester. At $ 40,340 for the CR-V Touring, you’ll spend less on the Honda and you’ll actually get more cargo space.

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If you strictly follow the price and cargo space numbers, Honda is the winner, but there are benefits for the Cherokee that are not visible on the specification, such as the softer and more powerful V6, the smoother driving and more comfortable seating. For these reasons, I would personally take the Jeep in front of the Honda, but you should take a closer look at the reliability of both before calling it yourself.

The High Altitude package starts at $ 40,995 and all in, our tester called in for an expensive $ 47,170. It’s a big part of the coin for a not very large crossover with a four-cylinder engine. I can see the value of $ 40,995, but when the price approaches fifty large it becomes harder to see the value. One of the packages on the specification is the $ 995 Technology Group which includes lane departure warning, parking assist, frontal collision warning with automatic braking, rain sensing wipers, automatic high beam and adaptive cruise control.

I think these are all pretty handy features to have, and the $ 595 tow pack seems like a smart investment to increase Cherokee’s usability, but I’m less sure about the benefits of the $ 1,295 Luxury Group giving you a powerful tailgate, rug loaded load area, front ventilated seats and a backrest adjustment for the rear seat.

Overall, the Cherokee is a well-designed entry into this hot segment and if you value driving comfort and a stylish interior over pure usability, this Jeep may be for you. Just skip the turbo four and stick to the V6. Trust me.

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