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Everybody loves a good show, and automakers know it. Nothing captures buyers quite like the flashy performance of off-road vehicles. No compact SUV shines quite as bright as the Jeep Cherokee when putting on the ritz off-road. It’s easy to be blinded by the 2021 Jeep Cherokee’s star power when hitting the lot for your next car purchase. However, if you’re looking for comfort over performance, the underappreciated 2021 GMC Terrain may be better suited to your needs. 

Jeep’s name recognition alone packs a powerful punch. That’s why so many buyers automatically gravitate to the brand for their purchases. It’s easy to equate popularity with high-quality, and sometimes, that isn’t always the case. 

The 2021 GMC Terrain, while not as popular, certainly holds its own when it comes to comfort and driveability. The GMC Terrain and Jeep Cherokee both offer outstanding performance. But if you’re the kind of driver who needs or prioritizes a comfy ride on your drive to work or to pick up the kids, the 2021 GMC Terrain may edge out the competition. 

Let’s take a closer look at the 2021 GMC Terrain and the Jeep Cherokee to determine where each model shines and which one is better suited for your needs. 

The 2021 Jeep Cherokee is an off-road warrior

A 2021 Jeep Cherokee 80th Anniversary Edition parked on display on rugged terrain
The 2021 Jeep Cherokee 80th Anniversary Edition on display | Photo via Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Jeeps are known for off-road proficiency, so it’s no surprise that the Cherokee dominates the Terrain on rugged ground. Shoppers can equip any 2021 Jeep Cherokee model with an available four-wheel-drive system. 

Meanwhile, the 2021 GMC Terrain’s base trim doesn’t offer AWD as an option. That means the lowest entry point for an off-road capable Terrain is the SEL AWD, which has a starting MSRP of $31,195. Plus, this AWD system isn’t quite as advanced as Jeep’s 4×4 system. So, you could say that the Terrain doesn’t quite live up to its name.

Those who live an active lifestyle will likely lean toward the 2021 Jeep Cherokee. This compact SUV is better equipped for weekend getaways, as it offers more robust engine options than the 2021 GMC Terrain. 

The Cherokee comes standard with a 180-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. A 270-hp turbocharged four-cylinder and a 271-hp 3.2-liter V6 are available for more adventure drivers. The GMC Terrain pales in comparison with its 170-hp 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine.

Morning commutes are more relaxing in the 2021 GMC Terrain

A black 2020 GMC Terrain Denali driving down a road
The 2020 GMC Terrain Denali in action | Photo via GMC

Many drivers may want to pass on the Jeep Cherokee, despite its off-road prowess. Jeep gave the Cherokee a more luxurious trim for 2021, but it still doesn’t quite match the 2021 GMC Terrain’s premium quality.

The Terrain’s base model is relatively well-equipped with features such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and automatic high-beam headlights. All of these features will cost you extra on the Cherokee.

Meanwhile, the 2021 GMC Terrain Denali toes the line of luxury. It has a pricey MSRP of $38,300, but it’s loaded with high-end amenities. These include a wireless charging pad, ventilated/heated front seats, heated rear seats, an upgraded suspension, and a Bose premium sound system with seven speakers.

Plus, the Terrain offers better fuel economy for your morning commute. Its standard engine gets an EPA-estimated 27 MPG city/highway combined compared to 25 MPG with the Cherokee’s standard engine.

The final verdict


The 2020 GMC Terrain Has 1 Important Advantage Over the Honda CR-V

Every driver is unique, so it follows that shoppers will prioritize different features when shopping for their next car. There’s no question that Jeep Cherokee will get you where you’re going, no matter how remote that location may be. However, if you want a vehicle with a little added comfort and better gas mileage, the 2021 GMC Terrain is a compact SUV that will catch your eye.