By on March 23, 2021

2020 Jeep Cherokee Limited

2020 Jeep Cherokee Limited Fast Facts

2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (270 horsepower @ 5,250 rpm; 295 lb-ft @ 3,000-4,500 rpm)

Nine-speed automatic, part-time four-wheel drive

20 city / 27 highway / 23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

11.5 city, 8.6 highway, 10.2 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $34,595 (U.S) / $36,891 (Canada)

As Tested: $42,075 (U.S.) / $45,182 (Canada)

Prices include $1,495 destination charge in the United States and $1,995 to $2,695 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Before I became an automotive journalist, I wanted to write about sports. And one of the first things I learned from more-experienced sportswriters while I was in journalism school is that writing about a .500 team sucks unless there are colorful personalities on the roster.

This is because it’s generally more interesting to write about really good or really bad teams. I am sure there are exceptions, but generally speaking, mediocre teams were more challenging to cover.

In a decade-plus of writing about cars, I’ve discovered this applies to vehicles, as well.

I find it easier to reach for the best adjectives when praising or ripping a car. I use the thesaurus less. The creative juices don’t need much to get going.

Give me a car that’s perfectly fine, neither particularly good nor bad, and I have to work harder to convey my thoughts. Sometimes, y’all even notice and tell me so in the comments.

The 2020 Jeep Cherokee is one of those vehicles that is just, well, fine.

2020 Jeep Cherokee Limited

I’ll do my best to be creative and interesting, regardless. It won’t be easy – even my test unit was painted a pedestrian gray.

(Full disclosure: In the time between my loan and this write-up, one of my parents bought a Cherokee, though a different trim.)

Jeep has its hands full – the Cherokee has to fend up recently re-done stalwarts like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Ford Escape, and now the Escape-based Ford Bronco Sport is coming to play, complete with a Badlands trim that is meant to square off against the Trailhawk. Nissan has an updated Rogue. And the Chevrolet Equinox still exists, too.

Not to mention Kia’s Sportage and Hyundai’s Tucson, and others.

2020 Jeep Cherokee Limited

I’ll get to how the Cherokee stacks up later. On its own, it’s a fine little commuter crossover, which is enough for many people.

It’s not quick, even with the 2.0-liter turbo four that is the most powerful of three engine choices. Two-hundred and seventy horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque isn’t bad on paper, but it doesn’t blow any doors off here. You’ll have enough thrust to merge onto the highway without stress, but that’s about it.

Oh, and the much-reviled nine-speed automatic trans is standard across the board, though I don’t recall any misbehavior on the part of this particular example. Getting the thing to actually shift into ninth gear does seem nigh impossible, though.

2020 Jeep Cherokee Limited

Perhaps the best part of the on-road experience is the steering – it feels nicely heavy and it seems accurate with little play. The handling is also a pleasant surprise. While there’s some body roll, the Cherokee is spritelier than one would expect. It’s not the best handler in the class, but it’s competent enough in cornering.

The ride is acceptable, if a tad on the stiff side.

Another standout is the interior – Jeep, as with most of the rest of its Stellantis brethren, does a good job of laying controls out logically, with big knobs and easy to reach buttons, and Uconnect remains one of the best infotainment systems in the biz. There’s plenty of headroom and legroom up front, too.

Aesthetically it’s a bit boring, but it works.

2020 Jeep Cherokee Limited

The same can’t be said about the wonky snub-nose styling that has never quite worked for me. Ugly is too strong a word, but pretty she ain’t.

New for 2020 are features including more available driver’s-aid tech: An advanced safety group includes lane-departure warning plus, forward collision-warning plus, and rain-sensing wipers. There are also new exterior paint color choices, a new skill for Alexa with the right Uconnect and touchscreen combo, new standard wheels for Latitude trims, and newly available 19s for the Limited. Limited Plus models get one more interior color choice, as well.

Maybe some of those things can bring more spark to a mid-pack crossover.

2020 Jeep Cherokee Limited

Certainly, the Limited isn’t limited in terms of standard features (the long-time OEM convention of using “limited” to represent a top/luxury trim that isn’t limited in terms of features or production numbers continues unabated) – this one includes blind-spot detection, rear cross-path detection, power liftgate, keyless entry and starting, automatic start/stop, hill-start assist, Uconnect, Apple CarPlay, 8.4-inch infotainment screen, Android Auto, satellite radio, Alpine stereo, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, 18-inch wheels, and automatic headlamps.

Options included the Technology Group (advanced brake assist, rain-sensing wipers, lane-departure warning plus, automatic high beams, full-speed collision-warning plus, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, side-distance warning, and park assist). This model had an off-road-tuned suspension with hill-descent control and Jeep Active Drive II. Other options included the 2.0-liter engine, sunroof, navigation, and Wi-Fi hotspot.

Total price? A tick north of $42K.

The Cherokee isn’t a bad vehicle. But it’s not as a strong an all-around package as the RAV4, not as refined as the CR-V, not as fun on a curvy road as the Escape, not as stylish as the newest Rogue, and not as cool as the new for 2021 Bronco Sport. It’s also pricey, and some of the competition can be had with similar equipment for a lower MSRP.

2020 Jeep Cherokee Limited

Yes, this is a 2020 model, but that doesn’t fundamentally change things. The addition of the Bronco Sport is notable, but the Cherokee was mid-pack before the baby Bronco hit the market.

There’s no reason – save, perhaps, concerns over Jeep reliability – not to buy the Cherokee. But there isn’t a strong reason – save, perhaps, for cash on the hood – to buy one, either.

Mired in the middle. Just like a .500 sports team.

[Images © Jeep]

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45 Comments on “2020 Jeep Cherokee Limited Review – Moving in Anonymity...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    “But there isn’t a strong reason”

    The V6 version offers 4500lbs towing capacity, which I believe is class leading. That’s a nice feature for someone looking to tow a pop-up or one of the larger teardrops while.staying with a compact CUV.

    Unfortunately for ’21 the V6 and tow package is behind a higher trim paywall. It used to be available at each level.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The Cherokee’s problem is packaging. The latest couple generations of compact/midsize CUVs from the big Japanese brands have gotten notably roomier inside without expanding dimensions much outside. The Cherokee is a throwback to earlier generations of compact CUVs, with a much higher floor and less efficient use of other space. There’s less cargo room and the back seat feels tighter than some of the competition.

    The V6 is an interesting selling point but I’d rather have the jacked hybrid powertrain in the RAV4 Prime, at least if Toyota could make remotely enough to meet demand. (I have a neighbor who’s been eyeing a RAV4 Prime and he’s reporting 6-month-plus wait lists at local dealers.)

    • 0 avatar
      midnite_clyde

      I was considering trading in our Cherokee Limited for a Grand Cherokee. I just double checked the interior space to make certain:

      Passenger Space
      Grand Cherokee 105 cu ft.
      Cherokee 128 cu ft.

      Cargo Space
      Grand Cherokee 36.3 cu. Ft.
      Cherokee 25.8 cu. ft.

      Nevermind trading for the current GC. I’ll wait for the non “L” new version late this year. The Cherokee does have small storage space and a small gas tank (my biggest pet peave) but it has a sold feeling ride.

      Car and Driver latest issue trashes the Cherokee in comparison to the new little Bronco and the Mazda whatever. I knew the Mazda would win before I read the article because that’s Car and Driver. Honda and Mazda they fawn over.

    • 0 avatar

      Part of the packaging issue is to accomadate the higher trim 4wd systems and keep some offordability. I’m guessing the next generation of these will be bigger but we will have to wait and see.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’m sure whomever is in charge would scoff at this, but would it make sense to produce a model with real off-road chops and one without? They ran Patriot and Compass for years despite the fact they were the same platform, why not the same here?

  • avatar
    here4aSammich

    I’ve got a ’19 Limited with the V6. It’s been uneventful. Aside from one trip to the dealer to adjust a rattle in the pano roof, It’s only been back for scheduled service. The 9-speed auto isn’t an issue, and yes, it’s hard to get it u into 9th gear. I generally see between 29-31 mpg on the highway. The quality, feel and wear of the interior is a step above the class (work requires a lot of National rentals). As pointed out, UConnect is among the class leaders for connectivity. MSRP is just a number, your local Jeep dealer will add to the cash already on the hood. Question is,what do I do when the lease is up at the end of the year? The combination of V6 and convention transmission is almost gone in this size class. I prefer the growl of the V6 over the whine of the turbo, and IMO FCA worked the bugs out of this 9-speed. I’m strongly considering purchasing it at the end of the lease. The buyout number is too my advantage as well.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “There’s no reason – save, perhaps, concerns over Jeep reliability – not to buy the Cherokee”

    Paying 42 large for an albeit loaded but dated model and no V6 seems like another good reason.

    The final XJ Cherokee Limited with true 4×4 and I6 forged by Thor’s hammer was $23,385 in 2001. So 90%ish inflation in 20 years for… this?

    https://www.autotrader.com/jeep/cherokee/2001

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I don’t think Thor forged much with Mjolnir.

      But, yeah, this thing is basically a lifted/stretched Dodge Dart with a bigger engine and AWD, for $42,000.

      What. The. F**k.

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        The Chrysler Voyager crushes this in terms of value, with a V6, 3 rows, sliding doors standard, and optional 3-zone climate control for less than $29k. If you need AWD, however, you have to step up to the Pacifica for almost $10k more.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          You’re comparing a loaded compact CUV to a stripper minivan? I doubt a single buyer has ever cross-shopped those two things.

          • 0 avatar
            SPPPP

            Actually, no, I factored in the difference in options, which may not be as much as you think.

            But I disagree with your premise. In a way, people cross-shop these all the time. They know they *should* buy the minivan, but they *want* the perceived status of a 4WD crossover.

            Most families would be far happier with the added comfort and utility of the minivan, I am pretty sure.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            The “minivan” is nearly two feet longer and seven inches wider. That’s a considerably larger footprint and a comparative PITA for parking situations if you don’t need the extra space.

            YMMV but the only people I know that have shopped the Cherokee were single, childless women. Telling them to get a larger van instead would have been a bizarre recommendation. This is a Dart crossover, I don’t think many people are looking at this Jeep to be the family cruiser.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree with Dal but excluding trims in design and basic use case (people mover) the two are not that far off. To Ajla’s point such buyers would traditionally qualify for secretary cars, I find it curious they’d be attracted to a model which image wise is intended for some kind of family usage.

          • 0 avatar
            SPPPP

            Ok, fair enough. In my own defense, when I look at this, I just see a regular car. It’s not attractive (to my eyes), not a convertible, not a 2-seater, not an off-roader, not fast or sporty, and not cheap. So I don’t get what its selling point or “elevator pitch” is.

            In the traditional definition of a “secretary’s car”, I thought one or more distinctive and attractive traits was supposed to be present. Especially affordability and style, which I don’t find here. I guess this looks distinctive in a way, even if I don’t like it.

            So, please forgive me for not understanding that this was supposed to be a “secretary’s car”. I thought it was just supposed to be a car. Four doors, rear hatch, and five seatbelts suggests family car. And I was evaluating it as such.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @SPPPP

            I wasn’t trying to argue this was a “secretary’s car”, its a generic people mover in my view really no different than anything else in its class. I was responding to Ajla’s comment on customers he has seen mostly being single childless women who I argue would be better served in what was once called a “secretary’s car”. Whether these offerings still exist in appreciable numbers is up for debate.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Somehow the general world is finding style and image in CUVs where car people just don’t. If my wife could drive any car in the world it would be a Volvo XC90 Recharge.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Four doors, rear hatch, and five seatbelts suggests family car.”

            In the US anyway, I definitely disagree with the idea that compact or subcompact CUVs are bought as “family cars”.

            Also while I do think minivans are undershopped in certain situations, modern minivans are either bulky utility vehicles or crashy things based on European cargo vans. “Get a van” isn’t the answer for everyone buying a $29K+ sedan or CUV.

            @28:
            People want to sit up high, they want room for their dogs, and they want AWD if they live north of Atlanta. A Pontiac Sunbird just isn’t what the market is going for these days.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @ajla

            ““Get a van” isn’t the answer for everyone buying a $29K+ sedan or CUV.”

            How about, “get a life”? :D

            I live north of Atlanta, no one “needs” AWD. Constant ads saying the contrary for decades has really had a brainwashing effect.

            @Dal

            Could we be living in an auto themed version of “They Live” where we all have special sunglasses to see things as they really are?

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Pretty sure I’d rather drive this one than an XJ any day of the week, though, even without TRUE 4X4!!!!!!

      (If I cared about that, eh, a used GX sounds a lot nicer.)

      (I am surprised at how bad Jeep is at providing *technical details* about their 4WD systems, despite having a nice big section about them.

      Non-enthusiasts don’t care much, and enthusiasts care a LOT, and are one of Jeep’s target markets.

      But even non-Trailhawk Cherokees have an option for the AD2 system with a real transfer case; Trailhawks get a locking rear.

      That seems like “real 4WD” to me, even if it’s not a full-time center-diff system – and even if it’s automatic in high range.

      In 2021, with traction control systems and on-demand 4WD, a full-time center-diff system doesn’t seem like it offers much advantage anymore, just like independent brake control in the system makes a limited-slip or even a locker kinda … unimportant anymore?)

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I think a CPO GX doesn’t occur to the people who buy these.

        “a full-time center-diff system doesn’t seem like it offers much advantage anymore”

        I’m not an expert in 4×4 systems but I don’t recall ever seeing a center diff system in a transverse mounted drivetrain, and that’s the real issue. With this you have all the disadvantages of a transverse motor and transaxle then add some sort of linkage between the transaxle and transfer case/diffs etc. I think FCA still wanted their models to be able to go offroad and thus they developed a 4WD system which could work with their transverse mounted car setup. If their engineers figured out a way to make that goofy system reliable, my hat’s off to them but I’d much rather have a traditional 4WD setup in my 4WD automobile.

        I think Toyota’s recent solution for this was to keep its transverse mounting for Corolla but they added electric motors at the rear in order to give it “AWD”. I don’t even think they altered the rear suspension or added a diff, and this solution on paper sounds as if its the best one for CUVs which seldom leave pavement. FCA’s solution feels to me a compromise at best.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    42 large for a dinky crossover. And more if you want a real engine.

    Wow.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      FWIW, this is a dumb press car build.

      Here’s one with the V6, tow package and off road suspension that stickers at $35.5k and I’m guessing it wouldn’t.be hard to buy for a little under $30k.

      tinyurl.com/4nwujcbh

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    I don’t care care how close turbo is to the engine, that 9-speed will relentlessly upshift to drop rpm’s as low as possible and when you need power you will experience delay: an downshift or three, and turning lag. It may be class leading brief, but there will be lag and that’s makes for a miserable driving experience. The V6 is the engine to get.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      I’ve got a 2015 Trailhawk with a V-6 and the nine-speed and it is quick with no lag. Shifts normally and almost imperceptively in normal driving.
      Wife says the seats are very comfortable for her and that it is easy to drive and park. Her regular vehicle is a 2014 Acura MDX.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    2020?

    Shouldn’t the “big” three be releasing their 2023 models about now?

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      2020s are still on lots, and I got 2020s for a very long time due to Covid delaying things. And I was also working on other things during the end of 2020 that kept me from writing reviews at a fast clip. I’m catching up quickly.

  • avatar
    07NodnarB

    Last year I rented one to drive from Detroit to Grand Rapids and back. Thats like a 150 mile/2 1/2 hour drive. By the time I was maybe 20 minutes from my destination, all the highway imperfections of I-96 and my rental Jeep not having any finesse while going over said imperfections had caused to have a headache and sick to my stomach. It just rides too rough, never ever again…ever.

  • avatar
    TimGtoolman

    Honestly, I am perplexed by the claims of (poor)
    reliability in Chrysler products. I may be the odd man out, but in recent years, I’ve had 2 Ram 1500s (one was totaled in a crash), a Patriot, Journey and currently a Wrangler with 150,000 miles and can name my “repairs” on one hand for all of these combined. Do regular maintenance, change your fluids, don’t abuse your vehicles and you are likely to top 200,000 with few issues. Find a mechanic you can trust.

    • 0 avatar
      teddyc73

      I am too Tim. I think it comes from the fact people get something in their minds as true and they refuse to accept they may be wrong. I have had new Chrysler products since 1998, 4 Chryslers, 1 Jeep, and my current Ram, and I had no problems with any of them. My parents have had two Dodges, no problems. My brother has had 2 Chryslers and a Jeep, no problems. My Ram had a few recalls for minor issues but what brand hasn’t had recalls? The point is their products are just as good as any other company but getting people to change their old baseless tired outdated perceptions is like steering the Titanic.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      Seems like people are basing their opinions on statistics. Chrysler brands are outside the top-15 in most reliable, and Jeep is within the 10 worst for reliability for 2020.

  • avatar
    Steven in Queens

    I don’t understand the logic of having the Compass and the Cherokee for sale at the same time. Granted, I haven’t driven either of them, but I see a lot of them around and they seem very similarly sized. Is there really THAT much difference in the two? If you’re cross shopping RAV4, CRV and Jeep, which Jeep is most similar? Seems needlessly confusing to the buyer.

    • 0 avatar

      They do seem to crossover quite a bit. I’m assuming the next gen Cherokee will be bigger. The Cherokee has a lot of options the compass doesn’t but if you don’t need those or more power a compass will save a bunch of money.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Since this Tim Healey writeup is all about Tim Healey, my comment will also be Healey-centric.

    Was passed by a Toyota Prius with racing stripes on the interstate this morning [two lanes each way, far from civilization]. “This person is confused,” I said to myself.

    20 miles later, came up on the same Toyota Prius (with racing stripes), in the left lane, pacing the vehicle in the right lane (creating a line of cars in the left lane in the process). “This person is *very* confused,” said I [A. Can’t pick a speed and stick with it for 20 minutes; B. Can’t grasp the concept of a passing lane].

    Noticed the Illinois plates on the Toyota Prius (with racing stripes) (with poor lane discipline). [Quick math says ~75% chance this person is from the Chicago area.] “Ah, maybe there is a *reason* this person is very confused.”

    And then I thought of Tim Healey.

  • avatar
    rw33

    The biggest problem with this is that it and the Compass overlap too much.

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    I’m phobic when it comes to turbos and CVT transmissions. If in double, just talk to me sister who took a big hit on her Nissan.

    Therefore, I like the idea that a V6 and true automatic transmission available in the Cherokee. Its a potential replacement for my V6 6-Speed automatic Ford Escape.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The Jeep quality control issues are well known but it seems to vary from one vehicle to another and also the year. My intern drove a 2016 Cherokee V6 to work on a daily basis with about 80K on the clock and that was when several issues cropped up including the timing cover on the 3.2 V6 starting leaking, the door seal on the driver’s side was worn right out, both front wheel bearings needed replacing, the check engine light kept coming on due to a bad evap canister and shortly after he needed to replace both front axle shafts. Most of these issues were corrected save the timing cover leak and that has got to the point where it’s pouring out so thus this vehicle sits in the driveway until several grand is coughed up to correct that. He also calls the 9 speed automatic the worst piece of ill shifting crap he has ever encountered!

    Another co-worker had a 2018 Compass that ate control arm bushings and wheel bearings for breakfast and surprise her driver’s side door weatherstripping also wore out at only 35K! After getting a third set of control arm bushings changed she traded for a 2020 Hyundai Tuscon and has been very happy with it so far with zero issues.

    I would guess that a newer 2020/2021 Jeep Cherokee or GC would be pretty reliable but would still be leery after 100K with what I have seen so far.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “not as stylish as the newest Rogue”

    … wat?

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