The 2021 Jeep Cherokee remains more capable off-road than any other SUV in its class and can tow more than its rivals too.
While it’s not a full refresh, the 2021 Jeep Cherokee gets more features throughout its lineup. Not least of which is a slew of advanced safety features like lane-keep assist, front collision mitigation, and blind-spot monitoring. It also sees a special 80th Anniversary Edition released with unique wheels and trim.
2021 Jeep Cherokee – jeep.com | Shop 2021 Jeep Cherokee on Carsforsale.com
Standard Android/Apple integration
Pricey if you don’t off-road
Rough on-road ride
It could use more power
The 2021 Jeep Cherokee features three engine choices and comes in either front-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive form. Each of the three engines available in the 2021 Jeep Cherokee has its place. The standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder is a passable every day mill with 180 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. It’s not very powerful, but it can still tow up to 4,000 pounds. The nine-speed automatic does a good job of optimizing the engine’s performance and is standard throughout the engine options list.
The 3.2L V6 feels like the middle-of-the-road motor, just barely. It has 271 horsepower and 239 lb-ft of torque, which is dramatically less torque than the turbocharged four. Cruising is fine and functional, but that lower torque is noticeable. The V6 option is peppy enough that most won’t want for more power though.
Only when passing or merging does the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine option start to really shine with its 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. That added torque makes for easier navigation at higher speeds. Still, the V6 gets good marks for more low-end torque that can be used better off-road at slower speeds. That’s why the Trailhawk only comes with that engine.
The rest of the Cherokee driving experience is above average. Steering and braking feedback both benefit from the car chassis that the Cherokee is based on. Body roll is lower than many rivals. Of course, that stout suspension also leads to a slightly rougher ride when the surface isn’t great. Nevertheless, we’d pick the 2021 Jeep Cherokee over many competitors if driving feel was all that mattered.
The 2021 Jeep Cherokee might be fairly small, but when it comes to towing, it’s quite mighty. It can tow up to 4,500 pounds when properly equipped and even the front-wheel-drive model can tug 4,000 pounds. That’s well above most of its rivals. In fact, it’s kind of an x-factor for the Cherokee.
Compared to the majority of other SUVs in its class, the 2021 Jeep Cherokee falls a bit behind when it comes to fuel economy. The best of the bunch is the front-wheel-drive turbocharged model which gets 23 mpg in the city and mpg 31 on the highway according to the EPA. Adding 4WD drops those numbers to 21 mpg and 29 mpg, respectively. Models that feature the naturally aspirated four-cylinder get 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway when paired with FWD. 4WD drops that engine’s numbers to the same 21 mpg and 29 mpg, respectively, which is the same as the turbocharged option. Cherokee models that carry the V6 engine and are FWD reach 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Tacking on 4WD with this option can drop the Cherokee as low as 21 mpg combined.
Upon entry to the 2021 Jeep Cherokee, things feel a bit nicer than one might expect. Touch surfaces are nicely textured and panel gaps are nice and tight. The seats are comfortable, but lack some support as the drive lingers on. The dash is attractive and we love how simply buttons and switches are laid out.
Visibility is good overall, but shorter drivers might feel a bit confined with the high window sills. There’s good headroom in both rows and there’s ample legroom. The front seats adjust to a wide range of body types too. The climate control inside will be excellent with fast response times and accurate automation when called upon.
However, cargo space is a bit limited when compared to other SUVs in the class. Nevertheless, we appreciate the clever use of space which maximizes every inch. Lower the rear seats and cargo space expands to 55 cubic feet. That’s still below many rivals, but it’s enough that most Jeep fans won’t mind the compromise.
If there’s any blemish on the 2021 Jeep Cherokee, it might be technology. Both the 7-inch and 8.4-inch infotainment screens are great. The UConnect interface is fast, intuitive, and easy to use. The trouble is that both of them feel a bit small. In addition, the sound system feels a bit dated too. Even the premium nine-speaker audio suite doesn’t produce the same kind of full, well-rounded sound that we’d expect from other brands.
If you can get past the feeling that some of that tech is a little behind the times, then the rest of the Cherokee should feel great. The terrain traction control settings are functional and featureful. We also love the inclusion of both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as multiple USB ports and more advanced safety equipment for 2021.
The 2021 Jeep Cherokee received a four-star crash test rating from the NHTSA and failed to pick up any awards from the IIHS. While that’s less than optimal, the inclusion of features like blind-spot monitoring, forward collision mitigation, and lane-keep assist should help quiet some concerns. In addition, Jeep offers optional features like adaptive cruise control and automatic rear-braking as well.
Jeep ups the bar for the 2021 Jeep Cherokee by offering every one of them with lane-keeping assist, forward collision mitigation, and blind-spot monitoring. The Latitude also starts buyers out with a 7-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, six speakers, rain-sensing automatic wipers, 17-inch wheels, and a 180-horsepower four-cylinder engine.
The Freedom package of the Cherokee simply is identically equipped as the Latitude, but then adds 18-inch black wheels, black exterior trim, and black premium cloth seats.
Those who select the Latitude Plus will see heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, satellite radio, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, keyless entry, remote start, and fog lights added to the Cherokee. It also adds rear-automatic braking.
The Latitude Lux version of the Cherokee doesn’t add much aside from leather upholstery and a power-adjustable passenger seat. The news is in the engine department though, where a V6 with 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque is standard. An optional turbocharged four-cylinder with 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque is also available.
Buyers who pick the Altitude get all the features of the Latitude Lux, but also add unique gloss-black 18-inch wheels, black exterior trim, and more adjustments to the driver’s seat including lumbar support.
80th-Anniversary Edition is available with some of the same features as the Limited trim level. It’s denoted by special badging, unique 19-inch wheels, a 7-inch driver information screen, and premium Nappa leather-trimmed upholstery.
Buying the Cherokee Limited will add dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-operated liftgate, 18-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a premium nine-speaker audio system, and adaptive cruise control.
The off-road-centric Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is only available with power to all four wheels and the V6. It gets the larger 8.4-inch infotainment screen, all-terrain tires, and a locking rear differential as well.
The High Altitude trim builds off of the Limited trim with 19-inch wheels, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, gunmetal finish, and satin gloss granite crystal metallic accents.
Jeep offers the same 3-year or 36,000-mile limited warranty and the same 5-year or 60,000-mile powertrain warranty that almost every competitor does. What sets Jeep apart from every other company, aside from Hyundai and Kia, is that it offers 3 years of complimentary maintenance on every 2021 Jeep Cherokee.
2021 Jeep Cherokee – jeep.com | Shop 2021 Jeep Cherokee on Carsforsale.com
The 2021 Jeep Cherokee should appeal to those who plan to go off-road or to tow with their smallish SUV. That’s where it’s fairly high price tag makes a lot more sense because few rivals can keep up with it there. On the road it’s not bad either, but if that’s where you plan to drive it, maybe cross-shop it against a Mazda or a Honda.