If the Cherokee’s friendly fascia looks familiar that’s because Jeep’s compact crossover hasn’t changed much since it was first introduced in 2014. That’s Social Security Eligible in car years. Although 2023 marks the last year of the current KL generation Cherokee, the latest old Cherokee gets some fresh equipment under its old sheetmetal. As Jeep prepares to pass on the aging Cherokee, it’s left with two trim levels and a new powertrain. All-wheel drive is standard for this year across the Altitude Lux and Trailhawk offerings. Without barebones base-level trim, the Cherokee’s starting price is now significantly more expensive than rivals like the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and Kia Sportage, but Jeep at least makes up for some of that with standard goodies. A new 270-hp turbocharged four-cylinder, offered exclusively for the Trailhawk, replaces the defunct V-6 and gets better fuel economy ratings. The Cherokee’s smooth ride and abundant driver aids aren’t enough to make it very competitive against its newer, more affordable competition, but it does offer reliable off-road capability that no one else has—along with one of the strongest brands in SUV market.
What’s New for 2023?
Jeep is making serious changes in trim levels and powertrain to the Cherokee compact crossover for 2023. Now available in just two trims, Altitude Lux and Trailhawk, the Cherokee completely drops the Cherokee’s standard front-wheel drive base, which has had a significant impact on its starting price. The 271-hp V-6 is also gone, replaced by a 270-hp turbocharged 2.7-liter inline-four, available exclusively for the off-road-ready Trailhawk trim. The Altitude Lux comes standard with leather seats, a heated steering wheel and remote start. Production for the current Cherokee, which is largely unchanged in its current KL generation since it was first introduced in 2014, ends in 2023.
Price and Which One to Buy
While the Trailhawk model is the most expensive way to own a Cherokee, it’s also the best way. It’s powerful turbocharged four-cylinder not only has a higher towing capacity, it also earns a higher EPA rating than the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter found in the Altitude Lux. The Trailhawk not only looks tougher but also, thanks to the standard Jeep Active Drive Lock, which enhances the drive with a locking rear differential and a special grip mode for climbing out of muddy or rocky situations. The Trailhawk also has nearly an inch of extra ground clearance, more aggressive tires and a larger infotainment screen.
Engine, Transmission and Performance
The Jeep Cherokee uses a 180-hp 2.4-liter inline-four engine for the Altitude Lux trim, but gets a 270-hp 2.0-liter with 295 pound-feet of torque for its off-road Trailhawk offering. Both are mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission and come standard with all-wheel drive. While we’ve yet to test either powertrain, its stout 2.0-liter is one horsepower shy of the V-6 offered in last year’s Cherokee. As you’d expect from a Jeep, the Cherokee drives briskly and solidly, making it bigger than its rivals. Relatively firm suspension tuning controls body roll in corners without compromising ride quality. Impact is absorbed without much excessive hum, and the Jeep never feels like it’s floating on the highway. We wish the steering gave more feedback from the road, but it’s well weighted and precise. A firm-feeling brake pedal produces composure in panic braking scenarios, and the Cherokee’s 70-mph-to-zero emergency braking performance is average for its class.
Towing and Payload Capacity
The maximum towing capacity for the 2023 Jeep Cherokee is 4000 pounds for the Trailhawk model with the optional Trailer Towing Group equipment package. This is 500 pounds less than last year’s Cherokee whose V-6 powertrain had a slight trailer advantage. It’s still a big advantage over its rivals like the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and Volkswagen Tiguan. In fact, the Cherokee compact crossover has a higher tow rating than large SUVs like the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Edge.
Real World Fuel Economy and MPG
The Cherokee has among the worst fuel economy in its compact crossover-and-SUV segment, according to EPA. The most fuel-efficient version is equipped with a 180-hp 2.4-liter inline-four; it gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg city and 29 highway. The Trailhawk’s more powerful 270-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four is rated poorly, at 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. That’s 2 mpg better, for EPA city and highway, than the previously offered V-6-powered Trailhawk from last year. We are not yet subject to any version our 75-mph fuel economy route. For more information on Cherokee fuel economy, visit the website EPA website.
Interior, Comfort and Cargo
With supportive seats and easy-to-use controls, the Cherokee’s cabin is comfortable. However, since the Cherokee is larger on the outside than most of its competitors, we expect it to feel more spacious on the inside. Small windows and high window sills contribute to the feeling of confinement. The Cherokee’s cargo area is smaller than most vehicles of this size, and interior cubby storage is modest. It’s more difficult to load items into the back than some of its competitors due to the Jeep’s high lift-over height. In addition, the cargo area is much smaller than the main competitors such as Ford Escape (34 cubes) and Honda CR-V (39).
Infotainment and Connectivity
Jeep’s available Uconnect infotainment system is among the best in the business, with well-organized menus and ample features. The standard touchscreen measures 8.4 inches. Starting on the Latitude Plus trim, each model adds two USB ports to the rear of the center console for use by rear-seat passengers. Every Cherokee has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot is available.
Safety Features and Driver Assistance
Jeep now provides a variety of standards driver assistance technology as well as some optional help. For more information on Cherokee crash test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) website. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking
- Standard lane departure warning and lane keeping assist
- Standard blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Cherokee warranty coverage is average for its class. Competitors like Kia Sportage and also Hyundai Tucson is the only competitor to offer a longer powertrain warranty. However, all models come with three years free maintenance.
- The limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Three years of free maintenance included
2021 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 4×4
TYPE OF VEHICLE
front engine, all wheel drive, 5 passenger, 4 door wagon
PRICE AS TESTED
$42,525 (base price: $37,045)
DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and head, port fuel injection
198 in33239 cm3
271 @ 6500 rpm
239 @ 4400 rpm
Suspension (F/R): strut/multi-link
Brakes (F/R): 13.0-in vented disc/12.6-in disc
Tires: Firestone Destination A/T, P245/65R-17 105T M+S
Wheelbase: 107.1 in
Length: 182.9 in
Width: 74.9 inches
Height: 67.8 inches
Total passengers: 101 feet3
Cargo volume: 26 feet3
Curb Weight: 4377 lb
C/D TEST RESULT
60 mph: 7.6 seconds
100 mph: 21.8 seconds
110 mph: 33.2 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.8 seconds @ 88 mph
The above results leave a 1 foot launch for 0.3 seconds.
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 7.9 seconds
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.8 seconds
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.6 seconds
Top speed (governor limited): 114 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 183 feet
C/D OIL ECONOMY
Observed: 17 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 21/18/24 mpg
More Features and Specifications