2021 Jeep Cherokee FAQ Review

Jack R. Nerad, Independent Expert | Jul 12, 2021

The 2021 Jeep Cherokee has a split personality. In front-wheel-drive (FWD) form, it performs much like the garden-variety compact SUV. It is comfortable, convenient, and offers a nice amount of cargo space. But there is another dimension to the Cherokee that other compact SUVs (with a couple of exceptions) don't even pretend to deliver. It is an off-roader worthy of the Jeep name. Properly equipped, it will cross very daunting terrain that would leave most compact SUVs screaming for mercy.

While a couple of compact SUV models have better than decent off-road chops, most are designed to be convenient, comfortable on-pavement vehicles. Even when equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD), crossovers like the Chevrolet EquinoxHonda CR-V, and Nissan Rogue are much more at ease picking up groceries at the Piggly Wiggly than taking on an overland jaunt into the hinterlands. And there's nothing wrong with that. They perform very well in that role.

Then there are a few other compact SUVs—most notably the Ford Bronco Sport and the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-road—that can compete with the Jeep Cherokee in its kitchen. They have the equipment that enables them to deliver more robust off-highway experiences. In fact, they revel in it. But Jeep has owned that portion of the compact SUV segment for a long time, and the brand is unwilling to give it up.

What's new for the 2021 Jeep Cherokee? - Find the best Jeep deals!

For the 2021 model year, the Jeep Cherokee is mechanically almost identical to the 2020 version, but its safety offering has been significantly enhanced. Here's what's new:

  • Standard safety features now include blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning, full-speed forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, and rain-sensing windshield wipers
  • New Latitude LUX trim level with an available dual-pane panoramic sunroof, 9-speaker Alpine sound system, and 8.4-inch touchscreen display
  • 80th Anniversary Edition based on Latitude LUX with a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, power front seats with lumbar, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, 8.4-inch touchscreen, and leather seats

2021 JEEP CHEROKEE SPECS - Find the best Jeep deals!

2021 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Gray Front Quarter View

What are the 2021 Jeep Cherokee configurations?

Jeep offers several Cherokee trims, three engine choices, and four drive systems—FWD or one of three 4-wheel-drive (4WD) systems. The subject of this FAQ Review is a Trailhawk 4WD with the 3.2-liter normally aspirated V6 engine that is standard in that trim.

The 2021 Jeep Cherokee is available in five different trim configurations: Latitude, Latitude Plus, Latitude LUX, Trailhawk, and Limited. The Trailhawk trim is only available with 4WD and the 3.2-liter V6 engine. The other trims are available in either FWD or 4WD configurations. The standard engine in the Latitude and Latitude Plus trims is a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder. The standard engine in the Latitude LUX, Limited, and Trailhawk is the 3.2-liter V6. Notably, a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is optional on the Latitude LUX and Limited.

What is the 2021 Jeep Cherokee price?

Base prices for the 2021 Cherokee range from $27,210 for the base Latitude model to $36,285 for the Limited 4WD trim. The Trailhawk has a base price of $36,085. In addition, each vehicle has a destination charge of $1,495.

What is the 2021 Jeep Cherokee cargo space?

The Jeep Cherokee offers 25.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat. With the back seat folded, cargo space increases to 54.7 cubic feet. A power-operated liftgate is standard on the Limited trim and available on the Latitude LUX and Trailhawk as part of an option package.

What is the 2021 Jeep Cherokee gas mileage?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the 2021 Cherokee should return the following fuel economy in combined driving:

  • 25 mpg for Latitude and Latitude Plus FWD trims with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine
  • 24 mpg for Latitude and Latitude Plus 4WD trims with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine
  • 23 mpg for Latitude LUX, Limited, and Trailhawk trims with the 3.2-liter V6 engine and FWD
  • 22 mpg for Latitude LUX, Limited, and Trailhawk trims with the 3.2-liter V6 engine and Jeep Active Drive I 4WD system
  • 21 mpg for Latitude LUX, Limited, and Trailhawk trims with the 3.2-liter V6 engine and Jeep Active Drive II 4WD system or Jeep Active Drive Lock 4WD system
  • 26 mpg for Latitude LUX and Limited trims with the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and FWD
  • 24 mpg for Latitude LUX and Limited trims with the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and Jeep Active Drive I 4WD system
  • 23 mpg for Latitude LUX and Limited trims with the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and Jeep Active Drive II 4WD system

During testing of the 2021 Cherokee Trailhawk with a 3.2-liter V6 and Jeep Active Drive Lock 4WD system, it averaged 19 mpg. With a fuel tank capacity of 15.9 gallons, the expected driving range is about 300 miles. It's wise to re-fuel at the 250-mile mark.

Is the 2021 Jeep Cherokee safe?

The Cherokee has an array of standard and available advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) across the lineup, including several features that are newly standard for 2021, as detailed earlier.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says the Jeep Cherokee earns Good ratings in all six of its crashworthiness categories. Additionally, the 2021 Cherokee earned a 4-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in its 5-star safety rating program.

What is the 2021 Jeep Cherokee towing capacity?

Jeep Cherokee models with the 3.2-liter V6 engine, automatic transmission, and the Class III Trailer Tow package have a maximum tow rating of 4,500 pounds when properly equipped. Models with the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, automatic transmission, and Class III Trailer Tow package have a maximum tow rating of 4,000 lbs. Models with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, automatic transmission, and Class II Trailer Tow package have a maximum tow rating of 2,000 lbs.

2021 JEEP CHEROKEE REVIEW - Find the best Jeep deals!

For this review, I evaluated a 2021 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. It had "Spitfire Orange" exterior paint, the Comfort and Convenience Group ($795), Premium Leather package ($1,195), Technology Group ($1,245), Sun, Sound and Navigation Group ($2,545), and Trailer Tow Group ($895). This resulted in a manufacturer's suggested price of $44,255, including the $1,495 destination charge.

How is the 2021 Jeep Cherokee interior?

2021 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior Dashboard

Getting into some off-road-oriented vehicles can take effort, but not so with the 2021 Jeep Cherokee. Its ride height and door opening make getting inside very easy. You simply slide into the leather-covered driver's seat without any difficulty at all.

Even with the up-level interior, the dash and trim are a bit plain, but the upside is that everything is where you expect it to be. When you are driving, hunting for buttons and controls can be distracting and even dangerous, so the Cherokee's straightforward design wins points. Mounted centrally in the dash is an 8.4-inch touchscreen flanked by a large pair of easily adjustable vents. The screen is easy to see at a glance from both driver's and front passenger's seats. Jeep uses the Stellantis Uconnect infotainment interface, one of the best out there.

The Cherokee's instruments are clearly visible through the steering wheel. They feature a round tachometer and speedometer on either side of a digital driver information screen.

The steering wheel is a modified 3-spoke arrangement with steering-wheel-based controls in familiar positions on either side of the Jeep-emblazoned horn button. The controls are well-placed and easy to identify at a glance. They include buttons for the audio/infotainment system, driver information system, and cruise control.

The gear selector is a traditional lever in the center console. Immediately in front of it is the terrain management rotary mode selector. Twin cupholders reside in a low position well behind the gear lever and the electric parking brake button. The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning controls are low on the dash and require the driver to peer down, but they are in conventional positions and easy to manipulate by touch.

Entry into the back-seat area is simple through the rear doors. The rear passenger compartment is very conventional and a bit cavern-like because of the Cherokee's relatively tiny rear side windows.

Is the 2021 Jeep Cherokee comfortable?

The seats in the test Cherokee Trailhawk were leather-covered, power-adjustable, and very comfortable even after long stints behind the wheel. The Nappa leather seats are heated and ventilated, making comfort easy to achieve no matter what the ambient temperature is.

The rear seat is a 60/40 split-folding bench belted for three passengers. The seat has six inches of fore and aft travel in the Limited (but not the Trailhawk) trim. With two adults in the back seat, the seating is comfortable, and there is good leg, hip, and shoulder room. Three adults would experience a tight squeeze—typical in any compact SUV. The rear seat will accommodate two child safety seats, however.

Another piece of good news for rear-seat passengers is the dual-zone automatic temperature control system, standard in the Trailhawk and Limited trim levels.

Does the 2021 Jeep Cherokee drive itself?

No, the Jeep Cherokee does not drive itself. The Jeep's bow to automated driving consists of lane-keeping assist, a standard system on all 2021 Cherokees that gives a gentle nudge of the steering wheel if it senses you are about to leave the intended lane of travel. The Limited also has standard parallel and perpendicular park assist with full stop, and the system is available on the Trailhawk trim.

Adaptive cruise control is standard on the Limited and offered on the Trailhawk in the same package that includes the advanced park-assist features. Adaptive cruise control is not available on other Cherokee trims.

Testing adaptive cruise control in the Trailhawk trim, it operated as expected. It enabled the Cherokee to maintain its interval from traffic ahead of it even as the traffic slowed and resumed its speed—a boon for traffic jams.

Does the 2021 Jeep Cherokee have AWD?

Yes, the Cherokee not only has AWD, but it offers three separate 4WD systems. Of these, the Trailhawk has the most sophisticated—the Jeep Active Drive Lock 4WD system with a low range that features a 2.92:1 low-range ratio. Jeep Active Drive I is standard on Latitude, Latitude Plus, Latitude LUX, and Limited 4WD trims. Jeep Active Drive II is optional on Latitude LUX and Limited 4WD.

The Trailhawk also has hill-descent control and an off-road-oriented cruise-control-like system called Selec-Speed Control to boost its off-road capabilities. The Cherokee's array of off-road systems and equipment helps it stand out in the crowded segment.

Is the 2021 Jeep Cherokee fun to drive?

Some vehicle reviewers miss the point when they assess the Cherokee's fun-to-drive quotient. Is it a top choice for those who like to fly around a racetrack or burn up canyon roads on a Saturday morning? No, it isn't. But if you derive fun from traveling to areas that others just can't reach because their vehicles won't take them there, then the Cherokee is your ticket to ride.

The Cherokee Trailhawk is not especially fast in a straight line on the pavement. The trip from 0-60 mph takes 7.6 seconds, according to independent tests. The 9-speed transmission changes gears relatively quickly, and that 0-60 time isn't slow. But a few others in the segment will top it. For everyday acceleration, the Jeep Cherokee responds just fine. The torque is there for merging into traffic and passing other vehicles when that is desirable.

The Trailhawk is only available with the 3.2-liter V6, but if your taste doesn't require all of its off-road abilities, a Latitude LUX or Limited trim with a 4WD system and the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is a nice package for on- and off-road use, delivering better fuel economy as a bonus.

IS THE 2021 JEEP CHEROKEE A GOOD SUV? - Find the best Jeep deals!

Jeep owners give their vehicles mixed scores in the three major J.D. Power studies that concern owner satisfaction. On the plus side, Jeep is above the industry average in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Initial Quality Study. On the other hand, Jeep ranks below the industry average in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study and the 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. At the model level, the Jeep Cherokee does not rank among the top three in its segment in any of those studies.

2021 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Blue Rear Quarter View.

In segment terms, the Jeep Cherokee is atypical in that it puts a much greater emphasis on off-road capabilities than its competitors. Because of that emphasis, the Cherokee isn't quite as roomy, and its on-road demeanor is not as sporty.

What is the 2021 Jeep Cherokee competition? - Find the best Jeep deals!

The 2021 Jeep Cherokee faces a growing number of competitors in a very hot portion of the market. Some of the best-known and bestselling are the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Ford Escape. The recently introduced 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is the only one in the segment that seriously challenges the Cherokee's off-road prowess.

The Jeep Cherokee is pretty typical in terms of overall length and wheelbase in the compact SUV segment. By the specifications, it offers more passenger space than many key competitors but significantly less cargo space. It is one of a relative few in the segment that offers a V6 engine.

There are two compelling reasons to choose a Jeep Cherokee over the others in the segment:

  • You desire to have the most-proven off-road-capable vehicle in the segment because you go off-road frequently.
  • You desire to have a vehicle that looks very much like a proven off-road vehicle from a brand that puts that front and center.

Jack R. Nerad has been road testing and writing about vehicles for decades for Web and print publications, including JDPower.com and others. He has a weekly podcast called America on the Road, and his work has appeared in scores of prestigious newspapers, magazines, and online publications.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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