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#11

in Affordable Compact SUVs

MSRP: $22,995 - $30,395
Invoice: $22,646 - $29,353
MPG: 22 City / 31 Hwy
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Jeep Cherokee Performance

Most test drivers think the 2015 Jeep Cherokee’s four-cylinder engine delivers adequate power, but they suggest the optional V6 for livelier acceleration. According to auto writers, the Cherokee's automatic transmission generally shifts smoothly. Although test drivers appreciate the Jeep Cherokee’s comfortable ride quality, they say its handling isn’t as nimble through turns as that of some rivals and that the steering could use more feedback. Reviewers say the Jeep Cherokee is one of the more capable off-road SUVs in the class, particularly Trailhawk models. Still, they recommend the Jeep Wrangler for more serious off-road excursions.

  • "… 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
  • "The outlandish duds are underpinned by an Alfa-Romeo-sourced unibody platform that's shared with the Dodge Dart compact sedan. It helps keep weight down and provides a car-like driving experience that's optimized for the kind of excursions for which crossovers tend to be used these days - trips to the mall, journeys to Costco, etc." -- Left Lane News
  • "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 Jeep Cherokee’s base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine makes 184 horsepower. A 271-horsepower, 3.2-liter V6 engine is available on upper trims. A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models. The base 2015 Cherokee earns an EPA-estimated 22/31 mpg city/highway, which is average for the class.

While the majority of test drivers say the Cherokee’s base engine delivers adequate acceleration, a few say it’s loud and can feel sluggish on the highway. However, automotive journalists are pleased with the optional V6 engine, which they report provides substantial power. Most reviewers say the nine-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and without hesitation. 

  • "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
  • "The 4-cylinder offers up adequate acceleration, while the power-hungry will prefer the V6." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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)
  • "The four-cylinder is certainly adequate, but the V-6 is downright fun." -- Popular Mechanics (2014)

Handling and Braking

The majority of automotive journalists report that the 2015 Jeep Cherokee has a plush, comfortable ride. They agree that because of its soft ride quality, its handling isn’t as engaging as that of sportier rivals like the Mazda CX-5, particularly when cornering. Most say that although the Cherokee’s steering is accurate, they would like a bit more feedback through the wheel.

  • "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
  • "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 few bumps and dips we encountered in our on-pavement test drives were well damped and sideways body motions never got bad enough to make us break stride in the twisties. Steering inputs were promptly heeded, but feedback through the wheel was somewhat lacking." -- Consumer Guide (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

The 2015 Cherokee comes standard with front-wheel drive or one of three available four-wheel drive systems. Active Drive I is a full-time system that includes a single-speed transfer case, and Active Drive II includes a two-speed transfer case with low-range gearing for better off-road capability. Cherokee Trailhawk models come standard with Jeep Active Drive Lock, which includes a locking rear differential for even stronger off-road performance. All four-wheel drive models comes with Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system, which maximizes traction with driver-selectable settings that include auto (normal), snow, sport, sand/mud and rock. Test drivers are impressed with the Cherokee’s vast off-road capability. They’re particularly fond of the Cherokee Trailhawk model, which they say comes equipped with plenty of features that help the SUV cross most types of terrain. Still, reviewers agree that for the best off-road prowess, there are few options better than the Jeep Wrangler.

  • “An ‘Auto’ setting uses sensors to choose for you, and all Cherokee models offer good approach and departure angles plus reasonable ground clearance, while the off-road optimized Trailhawk version ups the ante in each department." -- 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
  • "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)
  • "On Moab's slickrock trails, the 'Hawk is probably the most capable Jeep in the family-aside from the Wrangler, of course." -- Popular Mechanics (2014)
Review Last Updated: 11/18/14

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