The 2015 Jeep Cherokee belongs to a different tribe than the rest of the compact SUVs in this comparison test. By and large, the rest of the field in this test is made up of city mice that are country capable, but they can't make any claims to hard-country talent like the Cherokee can.

While the 2015 Cherokee starts out in base versions as the $23,000 Sport model with front-wheel drive and a 4-cylinder engine (a fairly typical setup in this class), the small Jeep's second act includes a choice of three different all-wheel-drive/4-wheel-drive systems and an available 3.2-liter V6 powerplant capable of towing 4,500 pounds. This arrangement is decidedly atypical in the compact sport utility vehicle class, but the Jeep Cherokee wears it well, and in all-wheel-drive guise, it can follow a good deal of your off-road aspirations. That goes double for the 4-wheel-drive-only Cherokee Trailhawk, which starts around $30,000.

2015 Jeep Cherokee at a Glance
2015 Jeep Cherokee Bar Graph

The test Cherokee we were supplied with, an all-wheel-drive Limited model with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $36,420, came with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. With 184 horsepower, all-wheel drive and a decided weight disadvantage vis-a-vis comparable versions of the competition, the Cherokee was neither the sports car of the group nor the highway cruiser of choice, despite the hopes instilled by its standard 9-speed automatic transmission. Nor is it on the vanguard of compact-SUV fuel economy, with the front-wheel-drive 4-cylinder rated at 22 mpg in the city, 31 on the highway, and the front-drive V6 rated at 19 city/29 highway. The heft added a feeling of solidity, and an appealing ride and quiet interior, but if strong highway passing power is on your wish list, stick with the Cherokee's 271-horsepower V6.

Overall, the 5-passenger Jeep Cherokee's interior is the place to be. At every level, the quality and feel of the materials -- from the plastics in the base models to the premium leather in the upscale versions -- are class competitive and often better than the average. A lot of editorial love was poured onto the Cherokee's standard Uconnect infotainment system, which includes a 5.0-inch touch screen at the base level and an 8.4-inch touch screen at the upper end (with available navigation). We found the Uconnect controls and operation to be a model of how a smart audio/phone/climate control/navigation system should work. That is: easily and intuitively.

That praise embedded, however, we wished for a little more room. In the second row and the cargo area, our legs and our cargo wished for more space to spread out. Conversely, the driver and front passenger have plenty of room and the front seats are very comfortable for both short trips and road trips.

Here's how the Jeep Cherokee stacks up against the competition:

Jeep Cherokee vs. Honda CR-V

When the shopping conversation turns away from the Cherokee's Jeep-bred spirit of adventure and heads towards the practical considerations of things like on-road drivability, fuel economy, quality, reliability and overall value, it's hard to turn away from the Honda CR-V. With an exterior that's as smart as the Jeep's is strong, and a roomy interior that's lighter and airier, the CR-V brings plenty of layers of appeal. Those layers include a strong 2.4-liter engine paired with a benchmark continuously variable automatic transmission and a strong set of standard features offered at every trim level. More 2015 Honda CR-V

Jeep Cherokee vs. Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage is the only compact SUV in our comparison that can give the Jeep Cherokee V6 a run for its horsepower. In fact, the Sportage SX's turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder produces significantly more torque (the power to accelerate) at a much lower rpm than the Jeep. In the Jeep's favor, however, the Kia Sportage is still only rated to tow 2,000 pounds. The base 4-cylinders of both models offer surprisingly similar power profiles, although the Cherokee beats the Sportage by a few mpg in fuel economy. And while nothing beats Jeep's Uconnect infotainment system, the stylishness and roomy feel of the Kia's interior won it points. More 2015 Kia Sportage

Jeep Cherokee vs. Mazda CX-5

True to everything that Mazda's been saying, the CX-5 is the sports car of our compact SUV bunch. It's also available with a 6-speed manual transmission with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine -- a combination that brings home 26 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The Jeep Cherokee was the anti-sports car in our test, unless by sports car you meant leave the pavement (and civilization) behind. More 2016 Mazda CX-5

Jeep Cherokee vs. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Mitsubishi's Outlander Sport is running an uphill battle in this comparison test. Against the Jeep Cherokee, it wins that battle as a small, maneuverable city-ute, but the Jeep's highway manners are more refined. Starting about $3,000 under the price of a base Cherokee Sport model, the Outlander Sport comes standard with real-value features like 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. On the other hand, while the Cherokee is by no means the resale-value leader in our test, it holds its value much better over time than the Outlander Sport. More 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Jeep Cherokee vs. Toyota RAV4

In a rear-seat and cargo area shootout, the Toyota RAV4 carries the most ammunition in our comparison test, and it offers a flat, usable load floor. Pricing for the Jeep Cherokee starts a bit lower than the RAV4, but it catches up quickly as you move up through the trim levels and surpasses the Toyota altogether when you opt up into features that the RAV4 doesn't offer like real leather upholstery, a V6 engine and a hardcore 4-wheel-drive system. Our editors also preferred the Cherokee's interior design, layout and Uconnect infotainment system. More 2015 Toyota RAV4

More Compact SUVs

Build and price your own 2015 Jeep Cherokee, read our full review or check out our Compact SUV Buyer's Guide to see even more options in the segment.

 

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