Compact crossovers are all the rage these days, but most are only slightly more rugged than commuter cars. The Jeep Cherokee is a welcome exception, with a name built on its off-road abilities. It can also tow up to 4,500 pounds, which is top-of-class. The cargo area is small, and fuel economy is subpar, but the interior comes with many standard features. The Jeep Cherokee is for drivers who want a small SUV that’s comfortable on- or off-road.
- Better off-road capabilities than rivals
- Superb 4,500-pound max towing capacity
- Easy-to-use Uconnect infotainment system
- Lacks the sporty handling of other crossovers
- Fuel economy is below-average for the class
- Cargo capacity could be better
Drivers can select between three engines for their Cherokee. The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder makes 180 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. It’s not very fast, but it works well enough for daily driving. The EPA estimates the front-wheel-drive variant should return 25 mpg combined. That’s not a very high score for the compact crossover segment.
Upper trims get a 3.2-liter V6, which has plenty of power and can tow more. It produces 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy slips to just 23 mpg combined.
The High Altitude trim gets a unique engine — a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes about the same horsepower as the V6, but torque is now 295 pound-feet. It’s plenty of pulling power for steep hills and dusty trails. Surprisingly, it offers the best fuel economy of the bunch, at 26 mpg overall. All new Cherokees have a nine-speed automatic transmission and a 15.8-gallon fuel tank.
Drivers who want a vehicle they can comfortably drive on-road and off will appreciate the Jeep Cherokee’s strengths. Unlike most crossovers, it comes with a four-wheel-drive system that has a low range for maximum traction. It also makes the Cherokee a good choice for those who live in environments that get a lot of snow.
The Jeep’s stout towing abilities make it a practical way to transport a small boat or RV. The interior space is adequate, and there are many standard tech features. Drivers have access to a suite of advanced safety aids that provide extra peace of mind. Cargo space isn’t as good as rivals, nor is fuel economy, impacting the Cherokee’s credentials as a daily driver. But overall, for drivers looking for something small and affordable that can handle dirt trails as well as stop-and-go traffic, the Cherokee could be right for them.