Although similar, the 2021 Jeep Cherokee and Subaru Forester have several significant distinctions. The Forester provides a better ride experience and a host of other benefits that put it far ahead of the Cherokee for anyone searching for their next SUV.
Here’s what you should know if you’re torn between these two compact crossovers.
What to expect from the 2021 Subaru Forester
Updated for 2021, the Subaru Forester features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 180 hp. It gets 20 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway for a combined fuel economy of 28 mpg. According to Consumer Reports, this impressive fuel efficiency means the Forester is tied with the Honda CR-V EX for the best gas mileage in the segment, excluding diesel and hybrid vehicles.
The Forester now comes standard with Subaru’s Eyesight safety suite. It includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, and lane departure warning. Subaru has updated the lane-keeping assistance feature and added a standard rear seatbelt reminder system.
Test drivers praise the 2021 Forester’s ride experience, noting the responsive steering and lack of body lean in corners. Additionally, Consumer Reports found the infotainment system intuitive and highly responsive. CR also liked the spacious cabin with “some of the best visibility of any new vehicle.”
Specs and features of the 2021 Jeep Cherokee
Much like the Subaru Forester, the Jeep Cherokee boasts updates for the new model year. However, Consumer Reports is unimpressed with many of the updates, calling the Cherokee “a vehicle that looks great on paper but doesn’t do so well on the road.”
The Cherokee has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine producing 180 hp, but a V6 that makes 271 hp is available. When equipped with this engine and a tow package, the Cherokee’s maximum towing capacity is 4,500 pounds. This compact crossover gets 15 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway for a combined 23 mpg.
Standard safety features include forward-collision warning, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic warning, and automatic emergency braking. The Cherokee also comes standard with LED headlights.
What makes the Forester so much better than the Cherokee?
Reviewers found the 2021 Subaru Forester to be light-years ahead of the Jeep Cherokee. The Forester earned an overall score of 89 out of 100 from Consumer Reports, while the Cherokee received an overall score of just 54.
The most significant difference between the two vehicles is the ride experience. CR’s expert test drivers found that the Cherokee offers a fairly stiff ride, with unresponsive steering and loud engine noises that make the vehicle sound “like a piece of farm equipment.”
Drivers also found that although the Cherokee handles corners decently, it feels like a larger vehicle than it really is. Despite its updated suspension, passengers can feel every bump on roads that aren’t completely smooth.
On the other hand, the Forester handles bumps well. It also has better fuel economy, responsive steering, and a fairly quiet engine. Test drivers found that, unlike the Cherokee, the Forester was “balanced and forgiving.”
To top it all off, the 2021 Forester is more affordable than the Cherokee. The Subaru starts at $24,795, while the Jeep starts at $26,510. This, plus the overall ride experience, means the Forester is likely the best bet for just about anyone shopping for an SUV at this price point.