Jeep Cherokee ›› 2020 Jeep Cherokee
Overview (Final Score: C+)
The Cherokee is a two-row, small midsized crossover that offers legendary Jeep capability alongside daily use, on-road comfort and stability. Fully redesigned for the 2019 model year, the 2020 Jeep Cherokee remains largely unchanged from last year. The new changes included a new look, another engine option, and upgrades to daily usability.
The 2020 Cherokee sits in the Jeep lineup in between the larger Grand Cherokee and the smaller Compass. The Cherokee often enjoys a podium spot as the best selling Jeep in the nameplate's stable of vehicles as it hits a popular size point in between smaller compacts and larger family-toting options.
With seating for five and five trim levels to choose from, the 2020 Jeep Cherokee can be had with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. There are three engine choices, all of which connect to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
What We Love About the 2020 Jeep Cherokee:
What We Don't Love About the 2020 Jeep Cherokee:
Exterior View (9/10)
The most noticeable change to the new Cherokee is in its flatter front grille and fascia, bringing it in line with the Grand Cherokee and Compass it shares the dealership lot with. The 2020 Cherokee no longer has the sharper nose of the previous-generation Cherokee. The familiar Jeep slotted grille, wide headlamps, and trapezoidal wheel wells remain, however, keeping the Cherokee looking like a Jeep.
The Jeep Cherokee enjoys a simpler, more contemporary (but still Jeep) body design and a flatter rear hatch to give it a less over-round appearance. Where the Jeep clearly differentiates is in its strong ground clearance, rugged tire-to-well spacing, and thick protective edges.
Balance for the design is achieved through a lower, wider-appearing stance to go with its less rounded, more square-ended appearance. The new-generation Cherokee uses LED lighting, some lighter-weight materials for bodywork and other components, and has several ergonomic improvements for easier daily use. Most of the changes to the 2020 Cherokee's look are there to appeal to a wider audience while retaining the Jeep-iness that brand lovers prefer.
Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (9/10)
The previous-generation Cherokee had a good interior with an upscale feel and excellent comfort. The new-generation improves on that with a more spacious feel, actual added space, and more interior trim materials.
The driver and front passenger in the 2020 Cherokee are greeted by accommodating seats with plenty of adjustability, a more spacious feel to the forward cabin thanks to a thinner center stack and slightly lifted dashboard design. This improves legroom and hip room without infringing too much on gadget storage. In fact, more storage is added to the new-gen Cherokee thanks to smarter use of materials and space, including a smartphone/gadget slot near the USB ports.
The rear seats are excellent as well and are split-fold as standard. The rear seating folds nearly flat for easier cargo loading. Parents will like the improved placement of LATCH anchors for child safety seats for easier installation. Rear seat legroom and headroom are very good in the 2020 Cherokee.
Cargo space in the 2020 Jeep Cherokee is the weakest point in the interior's design. At 25.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 54.9 cubic feet with those seats folded, the cargo area in the Cherokee is a bit smaller than that of most of the Cherokee's contemporaries. The space is very usable, however, and the addition of side pockets and tie-down placements are upsides that add usability for stuff hauling.
The 2020 Cherokee comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen (Jeep's Uconnect system), Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, and more. This quickly upgrades to a larger 8.4-inch screen in the second trim level beyond the base model. This can be further upgraded to bring better stereo options, to add navigation, and to add more app connectivity and WiFi hotspot capability.
Uconnect, which features in most of Fiat Chrysler's vehicles (including Dodge, Ram Truck, Chrysler, and Jeep) is one of the best infotainment systems in the business. The current system, Uconnect 4, includes voice-to-text capability, crisp output, and fast response times. It's easy to use and enjoyable as an in-car technology interface.
There are successive stereo options for the Jeep Cherokee as well, proceeding with each trim level to add more. HD radio is an option at most trims (once the 8.4-inch head unit is had) and added USB ports and the like also come as trim levels improve or options are added.
Fuel Economy (8/10)
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee has fuel economy ratings that vary with each engine choice. The base model's four-cylinder engine is rated at 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. These are about average for the segment, but are likely to be lower for most drivers in the real world as the base engine is underpowered for the crossover-SUV.
The turbocharged four-cylinder engine upgrade changes fuel economy to 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway and real-life returns are going to be closer to those estimates as the power output for this engine is better matched to the vehicle.
Finally, the V6 powerplant is rated at 20 in the city and 29 mpg highway. These are also fairly close to the real world. Our testing of a 2020 Cherokee with the V6 and the aggressive Trailhawk off-road package returned a consistent 28 mpg on the highway despite high altitude and rugged off-pavement tires.
Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (8/10)
Last year, we were concerned with the newness of the Cherokee and the difficulty in using the brand's reputation as a way to accurately judge reliability for the crossover. This year, we have more to go on for durability expectations.
The J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study ranks the Cherokee as "About Average" for consumer complaints about reliability with the vehicle. One recall for a steering issue adds in for our rating here. Ultimately, the 2019 model was given a similar rating from JDP and the 2020 model gets a middling ranking from Consumer Reports as well. This information gives us more confidence in our current quality ratings for the 2020 Jeep Cherokee here.
For the 2020 model year, safety ratings are basically the same as they were in 2019. The Cherokee has received four stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with four stars each for frontal and rollover crash tests and five stars for side crash testing.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has published top scores of "Good" for all crash tests performed on the 2020 Cherokee, including both small overlap tests. The Cherokee also received a "Superior" rating for its optional front crash prevention technologies and a second-best "Acceptable" for its headlight safety rating.
Although we gave the Cherokee a full 10 for performance last year, we feel compelled to drop that a point this year even though nothing has changed in the 2020 model year. That's because the base model engine is so underwhelming in the Cherokee.
The base four-cylinder is only just adequate for the Cherokee and often groans when pushed into working harder. This 2.4-liter four-cylinder has been a long standby in the Jeep lineup and produces 180 horsepower if RPM are pushed high enough. It's a good, steady powerplant, but gives little excitement and even less confidence to the SUV.
Next up is the upgrade to a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that boosts output to 270 horsepower. There is considerable turbo lag with this engine, but it's a good performer overall with hesitation only happening at the lower end of things. Smart use of the accelerator eventually overcomes the wait time.
We drove the 2020 Cherokee with its also optional 3.2-liter V6, which outputs 271 horses and does so in a long, even curve that illustrates the beauty of a six-cylinder powerplant. This setup, especially when off-road or towing, is ideal for predictable performance and easy control.
All three engines mate to the same nine-speed automatic transmission, which is tuned to match each engine. Front-wheel drive is standard in all but the Trailhawk model and all-wheel drive is optional (standard in the Trailhawk).
On the road, the Cherokee feels natural and is an easy drive while off the road, even in the base rendition, it's confident though not overly capable. With the slight lift and added equipment of the Trailhawk (plus it's more aggressive tires), though, the Jeep Cherokee can live up to its legendary nameplate pretty well. The Cherokee in all but the Trailhawk model is one of the quietest road vehicles of its class. The added weight and thick-treaded tires of the Trailhawk model bring more road noise, but still at acceptable levels for the segment.
Pricing and Value (9/10)
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee matches a lot of buyers' needs and adds more capability and comfort than most might expect in this segment's price range. Prices start at $25,740, plus delivery, for the Cherokee, and run into the low $40,000 range at its highest trim point with options. Most of the value comes in trim chosen as well as amenities for the money spent.
The middle of the road Limited and Trailhawk editions are well equipped for the money being spent, finding a sweet spot for most buyers. The Limited has leather upholstery, the larger touchscreen, a bigger and more capable driver information display in the cluster, and heated front seats and steering wheel. The Trailhawk has most of the same equipment plus upgraded off-road gear (including an improved AWD transmission setup). A locking rear differential, wider wheels with all-terrain tires, etc. are also upgrades for this model. The Trailhawk costs a bit more than the Limited, but has a better resale (traditionally) to compensate. As a side note, the ACtive Drive II AWD system found on the Trailhawk can be optioned (without the other upgrades) on the Latitude Plus, Limited, and Overland packages.
Total Score and Competitive Comparison (62/80, 78%)
The two-row, small crossover market is pretty hot and is full of great options. The 2020 Jeep Cherokee faces off against the Honda CR-V, the Toyota RAV4, and the Mazda CX-5. All three were redone at about the same time as the Cherokee, so all three have similarly up-to-date personas and technologies.
The Honda CR-V is the best seller in the segment for good reason, offering an excellent mix of practicality and capability for the buyer. It's not as off-road capable or as iconic as is the Cherokee, but the CR-V definitely does well for itself. Similarly, the RAV4 competes strongly with a good new look, strong capability, and several options for off-roading that are highly capable (though not at the level of the Trailhawk). The RAV4 also has a hybrid option not available in any of the others (so far). The Mazda CX-5 offers an unusually upscale appearance, a sporty drive quality, and more excitement overall than do any of the others listed here. It's not as off-road capable as the Jeep nor is it as all-around practical as is the Honda, but the CX-5 is definitely the surprise offering here.
For serious capability beyond just toting around a couple of kids or carrying a carpool and occasionally a big box store load of goods, the Cherokee offers a lot. It has serious "get out there, do stuff" credibility and is more rugged than the others in appearance. It's definitely a Jeep and that can be a good enough reason for buying one.
|Latitude 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||FWD||25840|
|Latitude 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||FWD||25840|
|Limited 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||FWD||31600|
|High Altitude 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||FWD||35540|
|Limited 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||FWD||31600|
|High Altitude 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||FWD||35540|
|Overland 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||FWD||36995|
|Overland 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||FWD||36995|
|Latitude Plus 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||FWD||27595|
|Altitude 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||FWD||28790|
|Latitude Plus 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||FWD||27595|
|Altitude 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||FWD||28790|
|Latitude Lux 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||FWD||29900|
|4x4 Trailhawk 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||4X4||34755|
|4x4 Trailhawk Elite 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||4X4||37950|
|4x4 Trailhawk 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||4X4||34755|
|4x4 Trailhawk Elite 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||4X4||37950|
|4x4 Latitude 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||4X4||27340|
|4x4 Latitude 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||4X4||27340|
|4x4 Upland 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||4X4||30720|
|4x4 North Edition 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||4X4||31800|
|4x4 Limited 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||4X4||34845|
|4x4 High Altitude 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||4X4||36840|
|4x4 Limited 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||4X4||34845|
|4x4 High Altitude 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||4X4||36840|
|4x4 Overland 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||4X4||38495|
|4x4 Overland 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||4X4||38495|
|4x4 Latitude Plus 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||4X4||29095|
|4x4 Altitude 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||4X4||30290|
|4x4 Latitude Plus 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||4X4||29095|
|4x4 Altitude 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||4X4||30290|
|4x4 Latitude Lux 4dr SUV||6 Cylinder||4X4||31400|
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