2019 Jeep Cherokee vs. other compact SUVs: How it compares on paper

2019 Jeep Cherokee vs. Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Ford Escape, Kia Sportage and Subaru Forester

Though the 2019 Jeep Cherokee hasn't changed all that much, it does get a new engine option: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It's now the range-topping engine, boasting 270 horsepower (just 1 hp less than the still-available naturally aspirated 3.2-liter V6) and 295 pound-feet of torque (up 56 on the V6). The addition also means the Cherokee has a new weapon in a freshened body for challenging those compact crossovers that offer a high-output turbocharged engine.

As such, we wanted to see how it compares on paper to those competitors: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, 2018 Ford Escape Titanium, 2018 GMC Terrain, 2018 Kia Sportage and 2018 Subaru Forester. The specs are below, followed by an in-depth breakdown of the stats.

> Discover and compare small crossovers with our Car Finder and Compare tools.

Comparison chart of high-output small crossovers

Engine and drivetrain

Immediately apparent is the fact that the Jeep Cherokee has the most grunt of the group. It has 18 hp more than the next most powerful Equinox and Terrain with their 252-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged engines, and 33 more than the 237-hp all-wheel-drive Kia Sportage SX Turbo. The Cherokee's 295 lb-ft also has a 20 lb-ft advantage over the next twist-happy competitor, the Escape Titanium with 275 lb-ft. It especially outdoes the Forester XT, the least torquey option at 258 pound-feet. The Cherokee's nine-speed automatic is matched by the Equinox and Terrain. The Escape and Sportage settle for six cogs, and the Subaru ditches gears altogether for a CVT. The Cherokee offers the most ways to send power to the wheels with front-drive, single-speed all-wheel-drive, and a four-wheel-drive system with low-range. The latter can be fitted with a locking rear differential in the Trailhawk for serious off-roading. The Chevy, GMC, Ford and Kia are all available with either front- or all-wheel-drive, while the Subaru is only available with all-wheel-drive.

Towing, Cargo and Passenger Space

The Cherokee scores another win in the towing category. It has the highest maximum towing capacity at 4,000 pounds with the towing package. Not too far behind are the Equinox, Escape and Terrain, which each can tow 3,500 pounds. Bringing up the rear is the Subaru Forester at just 1,500 pounds. The Kia matches a Cherokee without the towing package at 2,000 pounds of towing ability. But when it comes to interior cargo space, the rankings shift.

The Subaru walks away with the volume award, so long as it doesn't have a sunroof. Its 34.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 74.7 with the seats folded gives it 0.4 and 6.7 more cubic feet in each respective category than the next-most-capacious Ford Escape. Add the Forester's enormous optional sunroof, and the Escape creeps ahead behind the rear seat, but is still slightly smaller than the Forester's capacity with the seats down.

At the back of the pack is the Cherokee. Despite gaining a bit of space, its 25.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 54.9 cubic feet with them folded trails the Equinox, Terrain, and Sportage by about 4 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and between 4 and 5 cubic feet with the seats folded. As for passenger space, there isn't really one stand out.

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Fuel Economy and Price

Unfortunately, we're not able to compare the fuel economy of the new Jeep Cherokee with a 2.0-liter engine as the fuel economy numbers haven't been finalized yet. Until then, the current fuel economy champion is the Chevy Equinox. The front-drive version gets 22 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway, while the Subaru gets 23 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway. That narrow gap effectively disappears when the Equinox is fitted with all-wheel drive and drops to 28 mpg on the highway. The fuel economy loser is the Kia Sportage SX Turbo with all-wheel drive. It only gets 20 mpg in the city and a paltry 23 on the highway.

We can compare the Cherokee's base price to the others, though, and there it has a nice advantage. The turbo engine is available on the second-lowest Latitude Plus trim and with front-drive, so it can be had as low as $29,935. Adding a four-wheel-drive system bumps up that price by $1,500. Next lowest is the Equinox at $30,295, also a front-drive version. The cheapest way to get four driven wheels is to go with the Subaru Forester. It has standard all-wheel drive and has the third-lowest base price of $30,410. The priciest of the bunch is the Kia Sportage with a base price of $33,890.

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