Jeep’s off-road bona fides stay intact with the 2021 Cherokee. Although it doesn’t have the same boxy shape—or offer Forest Service green—with the newest Cherokee, Jeep has an off-road SUV in mall-ready crossover clothes.
It earns a 5.8 TCC Rating. It can be a monster off-road, and also a bad dream at the pump. It’s not as efficient or as spacious as rivals but if you’re considering a Jeep, we hope a hard right off pavement is in your near future. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
This year, Jeep adds active safety features including automatic emergency braking and active lane control to all Cherokees. A commendable move, but also a little later than rivals from Toyota and Honda. Our favorite engine is even more limited now—at least it’s still available in Limited trim.
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The Cherokee, which is offered in Latitude, Latitude Plus, Latitude Lux, Limited, and Trailhawk trims, rounds off some corners and takes a styling cue or three from the Grand Cherokee. Jeep still makes a box on wheels—it’s just called a Wrangler or Gladiator.
The Cherokee’s base 2.4-liter inline-4 is forgettable with just 180 horsepower to motivate up to two tons, although it’s the most efficient at up to 25 mpg combined. The uprated 271-hp, 3.2-liter V-6’s thirst is forgivable thanks to better power, but we’d opt for a 270-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes power like the latter with the fuel economy of the former.
Jeep wraps its interior in comfortable, durable materials but it’s more cramped compared to others in its class. Rear seat room is on par with the likes of the Honda CR-V, but it compromises cargo space at just 24.1 cubic feet with the seat all the way back.
Safety scores are mixed with four stars from the feds but a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS.
The Latitude gets a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 17-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, and active safety features. We’d spend up to a Latitude Lux and opt-in for a turbo-4. At more than $31,000, it’s pricier than competitors, but adds leather upholstery and the option for an 8.4-inch touchscreen.
The Cherokee Trailhawk is king of the hill among compact SUVs for off-road talent, unless you don’t consider a two-door Wrangler to be a compact SUV.