2020 Cherokee New Car Test Drive
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee is a compact crossover SUV with off-road prowess and heritage. It gets some minor updates for the new model year, including expanding the availability of active safety features to more models, adding Amazon Alexa to its upgraded infotainment system, and including a few new paint, upholstery, and wheel choices.
The current Cherokee has handsome styling, and the cabin has a sophisticated design, and high-quality materials.
Cherokee buyers have the option of three engines: a 2.4-liter inline-4, a much perkier 2.0-liter turbo-4, and a tried-and-true 3.2-liter V-6. The latter two offer good power, towing ability, and decent fuel economy, but the turbo-4, the newest engine, gets better mileage than the V-6 without sacrificing power. All three engines are mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available.
The Trailhawk model is the off-road special. It adds knobby tires, more ground clearance, plastic bumpers and fenders with improved approach and departure angles, and skid plates.
The least powerful engine in any vehicle usually gets the best mileage, but that's not the case with the Cherokee, as the base 2.4-liter inline-4 gets 22 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined with front-wheel drive and 21/29/24 mpg with all-wheel drive. The turbo-4 has the best ratio of power to economy, managing 23/31/26 mpg with front-wheel drive and 21/29/24 mpg with all-wheel drive. The V-6 with more horsepower gets 20/29/23 mpg with front-wheel drive and 19/27/22 mpg with all-wheel drive.
The Active Drive II system, which locks 4×4 in place when traction is seriously needed, gets 1 mpg less with both the turbo-4 and V-6.
The Trailhawk suffers with mileage because of its standard all-wheel drive and raised ride height. It gets 20/26/22 mpg with the turbo-4 and 18/24/21 mpg with the V-6.
The NHTSA gives the 2020 Cherokee four stars overall with four-star front crash and rollover test ratings. The 2019 model got the top 'Good'? scores all around from the IIHS in crash tests, although only 'Marginal'? and 'Poor'? headlight ratings.
The Cherokee offers an optional safety equipment package that includes forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings with active lane control, and rain-sensing wipers.
The 2020 Cherokee can be had in Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, Overland, and Trailhawk models.
Latitude models include the 2.4-liter inline-4 engine, 17-inch aluminum wheels, cloth seats with manual adjustment, and a 7.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Bluetooth phone and audio functionality.
The Latitude Plus adds a few creature comforts, including cloth-and-vinyl upholstery, additional USB charging ports, satellite radio, a power driver seat, fog lamps, and the option for the turbo-4 engine. With the optional active safety equipment, it's about $30,000.
The Limited gains leather seats with heat in the front, a power liftgate, power-folding mirrors, 18-inch wheels, a 7.0-inch gauge cluster display, and an upgraded 8.4-inch infotainment screen.
The Overland adds full Nappa leather upholstery with heating and cooling up front, satellite navigation with traffic info, a rear tonneau cover, and 19-inch wheels among other features.
The Trailhawk is four-wheel drive and comes with either the turbo-4 or V-6 engine. It adds all the off-road equipment mentioned earlier, along with unique exterior graphics, styling accents, and interior trim pieces, as well as some creature comforts.
The Trailhawk or Overland can run nearly $45,000.