The 2021 Jeep Cherokee Disappointed in Road Tests

If you’re on the hunt for a capable SUV, you might have the 2021 Jeep Cherokee somewhere on your list of vehicles to check out. But not so fast. Because, as it turns out, the 2021 Jeep Cherokee didn’t do so hot in road tests. 

2021 Jeep® Cherokee Limited driving down a sunlit roadway
2021 Jeep® Cherokee Limited | Jeep

What engine does the 2021 Jeep Cherokee come with?

Standard under the hood of the 2021 Jeep Cherokee is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. Teamed with a 9-speed automatic transmission, the Jeep Cherokee’s base engine is able to churn out 180-hp. If that doesn’t quite do it for you, this year’s model is also available with your choice of a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine or a 3.2-liter V6. 

RELATED: The 2020 Jeep Cherokee Already Has Some Concerning Engine Issues

This is what it’s like to drive the 2021 Jeep Cherokee

Let’s get this out of the way. The 2021 Jeep Cherokee’s base 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine is underpowered. While Consumer Reports called it “woefully sluggish,” Kelley Blue Book recommends skipping the Cherokee’s base engine altogether. As for its available turbocharged engine? Kelley Blue Book reports that it benefits from better torque delivery and feels pretty lively. But don’t count on the Cherokee being quick, even if it is available with a V6.

In fact, don’t expect the Jeep Cherokee to offer much of anything once you get behind the wheel. Because, unfortunately for this year’s model, it’s not all that enjoyable to drive. As a matter of fact, this year’s model was downright disappointing to drive for many. According to Consumer Reports, the Cherokee’s standard transmission is “neither responsive nor smooth.” Consumer Reports added that “it’s slow to react to a driver’s demands for more power.”

RELATED: 3 Reasons to Pass on the 2021 Jeep Cherokee

Turns out this year’s model is pretty thirsty too

The 2021 Jeep Cherokee’s road test scores aren’t its only problem. According to Car and Driver, this year’s model is also pretty thirsty and boasts some of the worst fuel economy ratings in the compact-crossover and SUV segment. The EPA reports that the 2021 Cherokee’s standard engine should be able to manage 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. And, according to Car Connection, with these numbers, the Cherokee lags behind competitors like Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V.

A 2021 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk
2021 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk | Jeep

RELATED: 3 Reasons You Gotta Pass On the 2020 Jeep Cherokee

You might want to consider these alternatives instead

Fortunately, the 2021 Jeep Cherokee isn’t the only SUV out there. So, if you’re on the hunt for an SUV that’s able to satisfy all of your daily driving needs, you might want to consider these alternatives instead. Take, for instance, the 2021 Mazda CX-5. This year’s CX-5 earned much higher marks from Consumer Reports and, unlike the Jeep Cherokee, was tapped by the IIHS as a Top Safety Pick+. The Jeep Cherokee? Its safety scores didn’t even come close. 

And if the 2021 Mazda CX-5 isn’t the right fit for you? Well, according to Consumer Reports, the Jeep Cherokee is outranked by plenty of competitors, including the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and the Subaru Forester. 

A red 2021 Mazda CX-5 driving down a highway road
The 2021 Mazda CX-5 displaying its athleticism | Photo via Mazda

RELATED: The 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Beats the Jeep Cherokee in All But 1 Area

Is the 2021 Jeep Cherokee a bad SUV?

While this year’s Jeep Cherokee may have earned some disappointing scores from Consumer Reports, and may not have left Kelley Blue Book all that impressed, that doesn’t mean this year’s model isn’t worth buying. After all, choosing a new SUV is a pretty personal decision. So, why not take this year’s model out for a test drive before making your final decision?