- High-quality cabin
- Sliding second-row seat
- Trailhawk off-road capability
- Sharp infotainment system
- Wide range of powertrains
- Lack of standard active safety tech
- Bland styling
- So-so fuel economy
- Inconsistent 9-speed transmission
- Smaller interior than competitors
features & specs
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee cashes in on off-road prowess and luxury features but comes up short elsewhere.
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee is a compact crossover SUV with off-road prowess and heritage, but that may not be enough to set it apart from the pack for most buyers. We give the Cherokee 5.5 out of 10 overall for its comfort and capability but take away points for crashworthiness and interior space. (Read more about how we rate cars).
For 2020, the Cherokee can be had in Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, Overland, and Trailhawk trims. It gets some minor updates to keep it fresh, including expanding the availability of active safety features to more models, adding Amazon Alexa tech to its upgraded infotainment system, and including a few new paint, upholstery, and wheel choices.
The current Cherokee is a big departure from the famously boxy model that was sold for nearly two decades. The current edition adopts swoopy styling that splits the difference between the Grand Cherokee and smaller Jeep models like the Compass and Renegade. It’s a handsome SUV all around, though we almost miss the controversial split headlights from before the visual refresh, as the newer units are plain-looking by comparison. Inside, the Cherokee sports high-quality materials and a sophisticated (if somewhat bland) design. The cabin has a sliding second-row seat and good cargo space, though it’s down on rivals by 15 cubic feet or more.
Cherokee buyers have the option of three engines: a weak 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 of which offer good power, towing ability, and decent fuel economy despite an increase in power. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available, but all Cherokees get a 9-speed automatic that could use some refining. The Trailhawk model adds real off-road prowess through knobby tires, more ground clearance, plastic bumpers and fenders with improved approach and departure angles, and skid plates.
Crash test scores leave something to be desired, but most Cherokees can be had with active safety features as an extra-cost option. While other competitors are starting to offer this tech as standard, Jeep has some catching up to do. Luxury features abound in the Cherokee, enough to justify its higher price. Nappa leather, a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, LED headlights, and a configurable gauge cluster screen are all either optional or standard on some models.
2020 Jeep Cherokee
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee is altogether better-looking than ever, but also less interesting.
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee is undeniably sharp but lacks the quirky weirdness and character of past iterations. We give it 5 out of 10 here.
Gone are the controversial split headlights in favor of a more conventional design, and while the change makes the Cherokee look like its “grander” sibling, it’s less interesting than in years past, and nowhere near as charming as its boxy ancestor.
The interior is subdued and business-like, again like the Grand Cherokee, and features a symmetrical design that emphasizes function over form. Soft touch materials abound, and little Easter egg details like small Jeeps on the interior glass and in the infotainment screens increase intrigue, but many competitors feature more interesting designs with similar quality.
The Trailhawk model is the best-looking Cherokee to our eyes, sporting higher ground clearance, knobby tires, and red accents like tow hooks and interior trim details that make it look as off-road ready as it actually is.
2020 Jeep Cherokee
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee is comfortable and competent on-road and capable off-road.
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee features a trio of engines, one of which is easily superior to its brethren. We give it 6 out of 10 here with special consideration for the Trailhawk trim’s off-road ability.
As standard, the Cherokee gets a 2.4-liter inline-4 that’s shared with the Compass, and it’s outmatched in a larger SUV such as the Cherokee. With just 180 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, you’re better off choosing one of the upgraded engines if possible.
A 3.2-liter V-6 offers old-school power and improved refinement, makes 271 hp and 239 lb-ft and comes standard on some models. A relatively new 2.0-liter turbo-4 is the superior option of the three, offering 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, improving on both the power of the V-6 and the fuel economy of the inline-4.
Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional, and the only transmission option is a 9-speed automatic that has the same problems here as in other Jeep models. Namely, it’s hesitant to shift and indecisive when selecting a gear upon acceleration.
A recently updated suspension has made the Cherokee a comfortable cruiser and competent handler, though the steering system offers little feedback. Towing capacity is 4,500 pounds with the V-6 equipped, but the turbo-4 can handle 4,000 pounds. Skip the inline-4 if you intend to tow, as it can only manage 2,000 pounds.
The Trailhawk model is for those who intend to take their Cherokee off-road at least a handful of times and is plenty capable thanks to the brand’s trademark know-how. An upgraded suspension, knobby tires, increased ground clearance, improved approach and departure angles, a lockable rear differential, and trick traction management software make the Cherokee easily the most capable crossover SUV off the beaten path, though many who want increased off-road prowess will likely opt for the Wrangler instead.
2020 Jeep Cherokee
Comfort & Quality
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee is plenty comfortable but not particularly practical compared to rivals.
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee delivers on comfort and material quality but falls behind on practicality and interior space. We give it 6 out of 10 here
While just as long as most rivals, the Cherokee is narrower, and therefore surrenders some interior space compared to top competitors. Its front seats offer good support, but the seating position itself can be offset for some drivers. At 40.1 inches of leg room up front and up to 40.3 inches in the rear (the back seat slides forward and back), the Cherokee is reasonably comfortable for four adults, but fitting three across in the rear seat is tricky.
Cargo space is 29.1 cubic feet with the rear seats pushed as far forward as they will go but shrinks to 24.6 cubes when in their most rearward position. That’s noticeably less than top rivals, as is the available 54.9 cubic feet available with the rear seats folded down, nearly 15 cubic feet less than the most spacious offerings.
Despite its relative lack of space, the cabin features high-quality materials and some of the most comfortable seats in the business, especially when finished in nappa leather on higher-trim models. Storage cubbies abound as well, with a deep glove box, generous center console, big cupholders, a small bin at the center of the dashboard, and a cellphone slot at the base of the center stack.
2020 Jeep Cherokee
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee has mixed crash test results and offers expanded safety tech this year, but still doesn’t make it standard.
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee manages only mediocre crash tests and fails to offer active safety features as standard while other competitors jump on the bandwagon. For that, we give it 4 out of 10 here.
While the 2019 model got “Good” scores all around from the IIHS minus “Marginal” and “Poor” headlight ratings, the NHTSA doesn’t agree, giving the 2020 Cherokee just four stars overall with four-star front crash and rollover test ratings.
Jeep does offer a safety equipment package on all Cherokee SUVs this year, including lane-departure warnings with active lane control, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, and rain-sensing wipers, but fails to make this equipment standard as competitors from Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and more have done so.
2020 Jeep Cherokee
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee is available in nearly any option combination you could want, but gets very expensive at the top of the range.
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee is one of the most feature- and trim-laden compact crossover SUVs on the market. It scores extra points for infotainment and for optional gear. However, its value drops off quickly as you climb the trim ladder, warranting 7 out of 10 here.
The 2020 Cherokee can be had in Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, Overland, and Trailhawk trims, increasing in price and features as you go up the list. Latitude models include the 2.4-liter inline-4 engine, front- or all-wheel drive, 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 trim adds a few creature comforts, including cloth and vinyl upholstery, additional USB charging ports, satellite radio, power driver seat adjustment, fog lamps, and the option for the turbo-4 engine.
Stepping up to the Limited trim 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 trim 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 trim adds all the off-road functionality and hardware mentioned earlier, and includes unique exterior graphics, styling accents, and interior trim pieces as well as some creature comforts. It’s only available in four-wheel drive and with either the turbo-4 or V-6 engine.
Unfortunately, while Latitude Plus models with active safety tech equipped represent decent value at close to or under $30,000, a fully-loaded Trailhawk or Overland can run nearly $45,000 while competitors top out at nearly $10,000 less than that.
2020 Jeep Cherokee
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee is behind the pack of compact crossover SUVs in terms of fuel economy.
The 2020 Jeep Cherokee sacrifices fuel economy for capability but does make up for it in terms of power. We give it 5 out of 10 here.
The least powerful engine in a vehicle is often liable to be the most efficient, 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 V-6 doesn’t fare better but offers 90 more horsepower, managing 20/29/23 mpg with front-wheel drive and 19/27/22 mpg with all-wheel drive. Adding the Active Drive II system, which locks 4x4 in place for certain scenarios, comes with a 1-mpg penalty for both the V-6 and turbo-4 models.
Speaking of the turbo-4, this engine offers the best combination of fuel economy and power, managing 23/31/26 mpg with front-wheel drive and 21/29/24 mpg with all-wheel drive.
The Trailhawk suffers slightly in the mileage department thanks to its raised ride height and standard all-wheel drive, reaching only 18/24/21 mpg for the V-6 and 20/26/22 mpg for the turbo-4.