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2015 Jeep Cherokee

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Overview (Final Score: B+)
The 2015 Jeep Cherokee is a five-seat, small to midsize sport utility vehicle that is offered in a four- or six-cylinder engine and front- or four-wheel drive. It's noted for its unique look, excellent interior, and powerful offroad capability.

True to the Jeep name, the Cherokee can get you there, roads optional. It's a strong contender in what is the most popular and highly-contested vehicle market today.

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What We Loved About the 2015 Jeep Cherokee

  • Excellent capability.

  • Upscale and surprisingly comfortable interior.

  • Strong value proposition in its mid-level packaging.

What We Didn't Love About the 2015 Jeep Cherokee

  • Small cargo space.

  • Under par fuel economy.

  • Uncharted quality and reliability expectations.


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Exterior View (9/10 relative to market)
The Jeep Cherokee was re-introduced in the 2014 model year with a polarizing design that distanced some fans of the brand, but which has proven to be a well-played gamble for Jeep. The new Cherokee has a bold, unusual look that plays off contemporary crossover-SUV designs and adds uniquely Jeep features. The slotted grille, peering headlamps, trapezoidal wheel wells, low raked windscreen, and hard body lines come together in a bold package. It's a look that's both refined and ready for action.

Compared to other crossovers in the segment, the 2015 Cherokee holds a more capable appeal and a much more aggressive feel, especially at the front. It's a conscious step away from the usual contemporary, sedan-like look that most others in the small-midsize crossover market aim for. The Cherokee is definitely set apart, but may not carry the style some buyers want.

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Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (8/10)
The Cherokee is a much-improved vehicle and many of the most remarkable improvements are inside. The front seats are very comfortable, at any trim level, and value packaging through the trim points is very good. In the front, excellence amounts of head, knee, leg, and shoulder room are found. Driver's ergonomics are good with well-placed instruments and controls. Base model adjustment options are good as well.

The rear seats are bigger, more comfortable, and offer more room than previous renditions of the Cherokee have had. The 2015 Cherokee has several upholstery options through the trim points, all of which are of quality. Reclining rear seats are standard in the 2015 Jeep Cherokee as well, something many rivals do not offer. They are also split-fold to expand the cargo area.

Cargo is where the Cherokee lacks compared to competitors. It's of good size for most uses, but is smaller and not quite as accessible as some more square-built crossovers in the segment. Cargo space is 24.6 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 54.9 cubes with them folded. Upper trim levels include roof rack options.

The overall impression the interior gives is of quality workmanship and well-designed accouterments. The Cherokee is one of the more upscale small crossovers in its interior fit and finish.

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Technology (10/10)
Technology options in the 2015 Jeep Cherokee range from basic radio and Bluetooth connectivity in the base Sport model up to fully-loaded app suites and telematics options with the high-end Uconnect system packages for the upper trims. Even that base model, however, has a five-inch touchscreen as standard equipment. From the Latitude trim on up, the option to upgrade to an 8.4-inch touch screen with the full Uconnect suite is available.

This is one of the best infotainment systems on the market, even when luxury brands are included. It's intuitive, easy to use, responds quickly, and has several premium extras that may not be expected from a standard-priced vehicle brand. The Uconnect system is used throughout the Chrysler lineup (Chrysler, Jeep, Ram). It includes text-to-speech SMS readout and the ability to respond in kind (speech-to-text). Other options are smart navigation with current traffic/weather/construction updates, a WiFi hotspot, and more. Apps are integrated to the user's phone with some as stand-alone for the Uconnect system itself. It's a well-made, well-designed infotainment system.

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Fuel Economy (8/10)
Fuel economy ratings in the 2015 Jeep Cherokee range from 25 mpg combined to 22 mpg combined, depending on the drivetrain option. The Cherokee is available with a four- or six-cylinder engine and in front-wheel or four-wheel drive. Two different four-wheel drive systems are available. All of these options affect fuel economy.

The base-level Cherokee includes a four-cylinder engine, nine-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. This combination returns 25 mpg combined (22 city, 31 highway). Adding the lower-end four-wheel drive system (Active Drive I) reduces fuel economy to 24 mpg combined (21/29) with the four-cylinder. This drops to 23 mpg with the more robust four-wheel drive system (Active Drive II).

The six-cylinder Cherokee is offered with the same transmission and in FWD or either of the two 4WD systems. The FWD six-cylinder 2015 Cherokee is EPA rated at 24 mpg combined (21 city, 29 highway). With Active Drive I, this drops to 23 mpg combined (20/28). Active Drive II reduces fuel economy to 22 mpg combined.

Finally, the most trail-ready of the 2015 Jeep Cherokee models, the Trailhawk, has an EPA rating of 22 mpg combined with either the four-cylinder or the V6 engine.

Although most of these fuel economy ratings are either on par or below par for the class, depending on engine choice, it should be noted that the Cherokee is generally more offroad capable than most of its competitors. We also note that for 2015, Jeep has added a start-stop system to the V6 engine that automatically shuts off and restarts the engine in stop-and-go situations to conserve fuel.

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Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (6/10)
In the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study, the 2015 Jeep Cherokee received an overall lower than average score for expected reliability. This result is the combination of the newness of the model and the track record of Jeep overall. We note that the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study is based on consumer surveys, not hard data.

The engines used in the Cherokee are well-proven powerplants that have been in use by Chrysler for years. The transmission is new, however, and largely untested. Again, though, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles as a whole has trusted this nine-speed automatic enough to put it in many of its vehicles. This gives us a mixed set of expectations, so we are cautious to give the 2015 Cherokee anything above a mid-point score here.

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Safety (8/10)
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates the 2015 Cherokee with four out of five stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives its highest rating of "Good" to the Cherokee in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-crash, and rollover tests. It gives the same results for whiplash protection.

New this year is a standard backup camera in all but the base level Sport model. An optional forward-collision warning and mitigation system (with brake intervention) and lane-departure warning with blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts is available. A full suite of airbags are standard equipment in all Cherokee trims.

Performance (9/10)
The 2015 Jeep Cherokee has two engines, one transmission, and three drivetrain options to choose from. Nearly every trim level can be purchased with any of these combinations. This makes the Cherokee one of the more versatile in the segment in terms of powertrain choices.

The base level combination is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that outputs 184 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. This is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and either of two four-wheel drive options (Active Drive I, Active Drive II) are optional.

The up-level engine is a 3.2-liter V6 that produces 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque through the same nine-speed automatic transmission. Again, FWD or either of two 4WD options are available.

Active Drive I is the entry-level and simpler of the two four-wheel drive system. Similar to most all-wheel drive offerings on the market, it is hands-free and automatically engages when needed. No user input required. It's suitable for light off-pavement driving and for getting around in inclement weather.

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Active Drive II is the more robust of the two 4WD packages and includes a selector knob that rotates between preset trail modes: Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud. The Trailhawk model also adds Rock mode to the list. This drivetrain gives the 2015 Cherokee a more robust offroad presence and brings it in line with the Jeep of legend. In our testing, a V6-equipped Chrokee Latitude with Active Drive II was more than capable of traversing through mud and muck along a dirt trail after heavy rainfall. Our time in a similarly-equipped Trailhawk edition proved it to be even more trail-ready.

On the road, the 2015 Cherokee is remarkably well-mannered despite its potential prowess without pavement. The four-cylinder engine and transmission can feel like they're struggling sometimes, especially at freeway speeds. The V6, though, is well-tuned and easy going, providing plenty of acceleration when needed without being too greedy at the pump.

Pricing and Value (8/10)
The base price for the Cherokee, in its entry-level Sport package, is about $23,000 to include front-wheel drive and the four-cylinder engine. This is a bit more expensive than some others in the class, but also includes a few more standard features than others might offer.

Most buyers land in the mid-level price points, in the Latitude or Altitude models, which aren't much more expensive than the Sport, starting at $24,500 or so. These are more value-oriented with their packaging in terms of bang for the buck, we think, and are on par with most in the segment. About $26,000 gets you a 2015 Cherokee with four-wheel drive and plenty of accessories included. That's comparable to others on the market who are similarly-outfitted, but won't have the V6 as the Cherokee would.

Those who leave the paved path once in a while and who need the ability to tow once in a while will find that the Jeep Cherokee outshines the competition in its versatility in that regard. Those who carry a lot of stuff, but tend to stay on pavement, however, will find others might offer a better fit.

In all, though, the price and value the 2015 Cherokee offers is good and we've scored accordingly.

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Total Score and Competitive Comparison (66/80, 82.5%)
The 2015 Jeep Cherokee scores well overall, with just a couple of points pulling it down. We've given it a B+ overall. Over time, quality assessments - currently being only guesses - may rise and that would bring the Cherokee up considerably.

Rivals in this market are plentiful and nearly everyone is bringing their A-game to the small-midsize crossover and SUV market. It's the fastest-growing vehicle segment today, with sales growing quickly as consumers move away from larger vehicles and begin to question the extreme downsizing trend of recent years. Competitors here are all great choices in the segment.

The chief competitor is the best-selling Honda CR-V, of course, which offers better fuel economy and more cargo space, but is not a true sport utility vehicle and has none of the offroad prowess of the Cherokee. The Subaru Forester is another strong competitor, with excellent family ergonomics and nearly as much capability off pavement, but which has less interior refinement. The Ford Escape is a close competitor to the Cherokee with a better cargo space, similar interior fit and finish, and good fuel economy. Finally, for those who prefer a crossover that drives like a sports sedan, there is the Mazda CX-5 which has more cargo and passenger room than the Cherokee but, again, none of the prowess when the pavement is gone.

The segment is full of great choices and those who choose the 2015 Jeep Cherokee are likely to do so because they like its edgy look, strong capability, and solid value proposition.

Trim Engine Drive Train MSRP
Sport 4dr SUV 4 Cylinder FWD 23095
Latitude 4dr SUV 4 Cylinder FWD 25095
Altitude 4dr SUV 4 Cylinder FWD 25695
Latitude 4dr SUV 6 Cylinder FWD 25095
Altitude 4dr SUV 6 Cylinder FWD 25695
Limited 4dr SUV 4 Cylinder FWD 28895
Limited 4dr SUV 6 Cylinder FWD 28895
4x4 Sport 4dr SUV 4 Cylinder 4X4 25095
4x4 Trailhawk 4dr SUV 4 Cylinder 4X4 30395
4x4 Trailhawk 4dr SUV 6 Cylinder 4X4 30395
4x4 Latitude 4dr SUV 4 Cylinder 4X4 27095
4x4 Altitude 4dr SUV 4 Cylinder 4X4 27695
4x4 Latitude 4dr SUV 6 Cylinder 4X4 27095
4x4 Altitude 4dr SUV 6 Cylinder 4X4 27695
4x4 Limited 4dr SUV 4 Cylinder 4X4 30895
4x4 Limited 4dr SUV 6 Cylinder 4X4 30895

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