Buyer's Guide

2021 Jeep Cherokee
Select a Different Model (15 Available): 80th Anniversary Edition 2WD
Fuel Economy $ 20 / 29 mpg
Cargo (Std/Max) 26/55 cu.ft.
Seating (Std/Max) 5/5
Horsepower 271@6,500
See All Specs
Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer
2021 Jeep Cherokee MODEL OVERVIEW

Pros

  • Trailhawk's off-road abilities
  • Comfortable seats and ride quality
  • Well-executed tech features

Cons

  • Cargo area is small for the segment
  • Unimpressive acceleration and fuel economy
  • Hints of substandard build quality

Jeep's long-running Cherokee nameplate now applies to a bold SUV one size below the Grand Cherokee model. Introduced for the 2014 model year, the current-gen debuted with unconventional styling that distinguished it from Jeep's boxy designs. A 2019 refresh toned down the looks a bit.

For 2021, three engines are offered, with power distributed to the front or all four wheels. Cherokee trim levels range from urban runabout to trail-ready adventure-mobile.

What's New

  • Automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, and rain-sensing windshield wipers are now standard
  • The Latitude trim gets a one-touch up/down front passenger window
  • The Latitude Plus trim now gets the following as standard: Heated front seats, leatherette-wrapped steering wheel, remote engine start, and windshield wiper de-icer. The Trailhawk model gets these and a heated steering wheel
  • The Limited trim now includes a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, automatic high beams, and a semi-autonomous parking aid
  • The 80th Anniversary Edition joins the lineup featuring trim-specific appointments and decorations

What We Think

Combining everyday usability with real off-road capabilities, the Jeep Cherokee is built to suit diverse preferences. Unfortunately, the Cherokee is let down by practical weaknesses that make considering the competition a good idea—if you're not already smitten by the Jeep brand's appeal.

On the road, the Cherokee is comfortable thanks to its supportive seats and smooth ride. There's plenty of legroom in every seat, though some competitors are even more spacious. Jeep's UConnect infotainment system is among our favorites for its responsiveness and ease of use (especially on the larger-available screen), while USB ports in both rows are available. The Cherokee makes a nice road tripper, especially when fitted with adaptive cruise control. However, cargo and fuel tank capacity aren't as great as in some segment competitors.

When fitted with available AWD or 4WD, the Cherokee lives up to its Jeep heritage. In loose conditions, it shows off rally-car reflexes, and the Trailhawk model is one of the best off-roaders in the compact crossover segment.

One example we tested displayed some NVH issues, making us wonder about overall quality. Those didn't shake our memories of quality problems in our 2014 Cherokee in a year-long test car. We like certain trims of the Cherokee (like the Trailhawk or any model with the turbo-four). But if you're looking for maximum fuel economy, driving range, cargo space, or even safety ratings—the Cherokee earns four stars out of a possible five in the NHTSA's overall rating—other options may work better. See our current rankings of compact SUVs here.

Performance and Fuel Economy

Regardless of engine, all Cherokee models use a nine-speed automatic transmission. FWD is standard, while AWD or 4WD are available or included depending on trim.

The Cherokee's standard engine is a 2.4-liter I-4 that produces 180 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque. In MotorTrend testing, an AWD Cherokee with this engine took 9.5 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph. EPA-rated fuel economy is 22/31 mpg city/highway for FWD models, and 21/29 mpg for AWD models.

If you can, upgrade to the available 2.0-liter turbo-four. It makes 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, which resulted in 0-60 mph times ranging between 6.6 and 7.6 seconds in MotorTrend testing of AWD Cherokees. Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 23/31 mpg for FWD models, 21/29 mpg for AWD models, and 20/27 mpg for 4WD models.

An optional 3.2-liter V-6 generates 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque. MotorTrend measured 0-60 mph times between 6.8 and 8.3 seconds from AWD Cherokees with this engine. EPA-rated fuel economy is 20/29 mpg with FWD, 19/27 mpg or 18/26 depending on the 4WD system chosen, and 18/24 mpg for the Trailhawk model.

Safety

The NHTSA gives the Cherokee a four-star overall safety rating out of a possible five stars. The IIHS gave the Cherokee 2019 Top Safety Pick designation, but rated its LED headlights Marginal and Acceptable, depending on trim (higher trims have high-beam assist).

Driver-assist and active safety features have become standard equipment for 2021. These include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Cargo Space and Interior Room

Cargo space measures 25.8 cubic feet behind the Cherokee's second row seats. With the second row folded, maximum cargo space increases to 54.7 cubic feet. That may work for most situations, but compare that to the Honda CR-V (39.2/75.8) or Ford Escape (up to 37.5/65.4).

Front-row legroom is 41.1 inches in the Cherokee, close to the Toyota RAV4's 41.0 inches. Second-row legroom is greater in the Cherokee, measuring 40.3 inches to the RAV4's 37.8 inches. Front-row headroom is 39.4 inches in the Jeep, more than the 37.7 inches in the Toyota. There's an inch less rear headroom in the Cherokee though, which has 38.5 inches while the RAV4 has 39.5.

Technology

The base Cherokee is equipped with a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, while an 8.4-inch touchscreen is included on higher-end trims. Both are compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; the larger screen can be had with built-in navigation. Two front-row USB ports are included, and two for the second row are available. On higher-end trims, a color 7.0-inch gauge cluster display replaces the standard black-and-white 3.5-inch unit. Instead of the standard six-speaker audio system, a nine-speaker Alpine premium setup can be optioned.

Recommended Trim

Among 2021's crop of compact crossovers, we prefer many SUVs to the Jeep Cherokee. These include the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, and Subaru Forester, to name a few. But none of those have the trail-ready capabilities of the Cherokee, and that's best exemplified in the Trailhawk trim.

The Cherokee Trailhawk is equipped with some proper off-road hardware. It gains a locking rear differential, standard 4WD, lifted suspension, and wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires. The Cherokee Trailhawk's distinctive bumpers improve approach and departure angles, and various off-road driving modes are programmed in. Red-painted tow hooks are there in case things go awry.

Road noise increases due to the Trailhawk's larger tires, but it still rides comfortably on pavement. Body control is also good given the modified suspension. The Trailhawk is one of the most expensive Cherokee trims, but it's also the most real-deal Jeep capable.

Key Competitors:

2021 JEEP CHEROKEE SPECIFICATIONS
OVERVIEW
FEATURES
WARRANTY/RECALL
SAFETY
REBATES
Engine Name
Engine: V6 3.2 Liter
Transmission Name
Transmission, AutoStick 9 Speed Automatic with Manual Mode (948TE)
Trim
80th Anniversary Edition 2WD
Class
Mid-Size Utility
Horsepower
271@6,500
Standard MPG
20/29
Body Style
SUV/Crossover
Drivetrain
FWD
Fuel Type
Unleaded Regular
Seating Capacity
5/5
Package Invoice Retail
Show Full Specs
Corrosion Warranty Miles
Unlimited
Maintenance Warranty Months
none
Corrosion Warranty Months
36
Powertrain Warranty Miles
60,000
Full Warranty Miles
36,000
Powertrain Warranty Months
60
Full Warranty Months
36
Roadside Assistance Miles
60,000
Maintenance Warranty Miles
N/R
Roadside Assistance Months
60
IIHS Best Pick
0
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
N/R
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
IIHS Front Small Overlap
N/R
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
IIHS Overall Side Crash
N/R
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
IIHS Rear Crash
N/R
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
IIHS Roof Strength
N/R
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
Amount Description Expiry Date
$500 FCA announces a Bonus Cash offer on select models for eligible Military personnel. 01-03-2022
$750 FCA announces a Bonus Cash offer on select models when financing or leasing through Chrysler Capital. 02-01-2021
$500 FCA announces a Bonus Cash offer on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 02-01-2021
$500 FCA announces a Retail Bonus Cash offer on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 02-01-2021
$500 FCA announces a Bonus Cash offer on select models to returning lessees. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 02-01-2021
$500 FCA announces a Lease Bonus Cash offer on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 02-01-2021