By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
Although the 2017 Jeep Cherokee is sized and priced like the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Nissan Rogue, it is so much more than just a compact SUV with all-wheel-drive abilities. In fact, the Cherokee line is all-inclusive, running the gamut from basic transportation to rugged off-road-ready SUV. In between are a number of models, some showing a more sporting side to compete with the SUVs like the Mazda CX-5, while others offer luxury on par with the Lexus RX, Land Rover Evoque and BMW X3. Jeep’s Cherokee compact SUV suffers from some shortcomings, however, like its underpowered 4-cylinder engine and, on upper trims, a rather exorbitant price tag. An available V6 solves the power problem, plus provides an impressive 4,500-pound tow rating.
If you’re looking for a compact SUV that offers a broad range of drivetrains, trim levels and high-end options, the 2017 Jeep Cherokee compact-crossover SUV is unmatched in this segment and even bests some luxury brands.
Jeep’s 2017 Cherokee features some rather untraditional styling. It also has less interior room than a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport or Honda CR-V. Power from the 4-cylinder engine is a bit underwhelming, and Jeep’s long-term reliability and resale figures, while improving, still lag behind most Japanese competitors.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2017, the Jeep Cherokee compact SUV gains HID headlights on all but the Sport trim. The Trailhawk gains a number of new standard features including ventilated Nappa leather seats and a heated steering wheel. Protective skidplates and a tow-prep package can now be ordered on the Overland trim.
Jeep’s Cherokee compact SUV for 2017 comes in numerous flavors, including Sport, Latitude, Limited, Overland and Trailhawk. There are also several specialty trims. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard on all...
... but the Trailhawk; however, Jeep offers three 4-wheel drive (4WD) options, all of which feature the Selec-Terrain system. Selec-Terrain allows for optimal traction with driver-selectable settings for Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud and, on the Trailhawk, Rock. The system can also be set to Auto, which allows the Cherokee to decide for you. More luxurious and certainly more off-road capable than the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 or Ford Escape, the Cherokee’s additional weight makes its 4-cylinder engine feel less peppy and spry than these competitors, and its real-world fuel economy is not all that great, either. For those needing power to pass or pull, the 2017 Jeep Cherokee’s V6 option is the way to go.
9-SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
Designed by ZF, the 2017 Jeep Cherokee’s 9-speed automatic maximizes fuel economy while delivering good performance. Although earlier versions suffered from some lag issues, our version worked flawlessly and helped the Cherokee’s V6 deliver highway fuel economy worthy of a 4-cylinder.
You won’t find anything like this on a Honda CR-V or Subaru Forester. The Selec-Terrain system on the 2017 Cherokee uses the vehicle’s brakes, traction and stability control and engine-management system to deliver optimal grip on varying road conditions.
The 2017 Jeep Cherokee SUV interior blends traditional Jeep cues -- such as the trapezoidal "center stack" -- with modern touches to create an attractive and upscale layout. The seats offer good support and come trimmed in either attractive cloth or soft Nappa leather. The heated and ventilated top-of-the-line seats also come with power adjustments and memory. The 2nd-row seats adjust forward and backward for better legroom, and split 60/40 for maximum cargo flexibility. We were particularly fond of the available wireless-device charging pad, plus the enormous glove box. However, we do wish the Cherokee offered more room overall.
"Polarizing" is the best way to sum up the Jeep Cherokee for 2017. It's one thing to stray from the traditional Jeep design aesthetic of round headlights flanking a 7-slot grille, but quite another to ditch the appearance of headlights entirely. However, we've warmed up to the newest Jeep Cherokee, and there's a lot here that says “Jeep.” The 7-slot grille has a "kink" folding it into the hood, and the less controversial rear resembles the Grand Cherokee SUV. Trailhawk versions kick up the macho with a higher ride, red-painted front tow hooks, skidplates and more aggressive front and rear treatments.
All Jeep Cherokee SUVs come standard with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, offering very good fuel economy and a range of about 500 miles on a tank of gasoline. Other standard equipment includes a Uconnect 5-inch touch-screen media center that includes Bluetooth, USB, SD and auxiliary ports. Also standard are a 3.5-inch full-color center display, 10 airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, Hill-start Assist, electric power steering, and an electric parking brake, plus cruise control, air conditioning with rear outlets, and remote keyless entry. The Jeep Cargo Management system includes standard hooks and a storage tote.
Jeep Cherokee Sport, Latitude, Altitude, Limited and Trailhawk models can get the 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 engine, which is standard on the Overland. There are three 4WD systems available as well: Active Drive I, Active Drive II and, on Trailhawk models, Active Drive Lock. Other upgrades include an 8.4-inch touch screen for Uconnect, a 9-speaker Alpine audio system and a CommandView dual-pane panoramic sunroof with power sunshade. Limited models offer leather, heated and ventilated power seats, a heated steering wheel, Keyless Enter-N-Go, and 18-inch aluminum wheels. Trailhawk models emphasize off-road capabilities with skidplates, an increased ride height and a more rugged look.
The base engine for the 2017 Jeep Cherokee is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine offering 184 horsepower. However, unlike many of its competitors, Jeep offers a V6 engine in its small SUV as well: a 3.2-liter V6 with 271 horsepower, and the added ability to tow up to 4,500 pounds. Both engines offer good fuel economy. Both engines come with a 9-speed automatic transmission, whether equipped with front-drive or 4WD. Three different 4WD systems are available, ranging from the Jeep Active Drive I and Jeep Active Drive II, to the aggressive Jeep Active Drive Lock reserved for the off-road-ready Trailhawk. V6 models get a modest fuel-economy bump thanks to the standard start/stop mechanism.
184 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
171 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 mpg (FWD), 21/28 mpg (4WD Active Drive I), 21/27 mpg (4WD Active Drive II), 19/25 mpg (4WD Trailhawk)
271 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
239 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 mpg (FWD), 20/27 mpg (4WD Active Drive I), 18/26 mpg (4WD Active Drive II), 18/24 mpg (4WD Trailhawk)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base 2017 Jeep Cherokee Sport starts around $24,500 for the FWD version. Midrange Cherokee Latitude and Altitude models start at about $26,500 and $25,500, respectively, while Limited models start at about $30,500. If you want the off-road-ready Cherokee Trailhawk, bring at least $32,000 with you, more if you decide on the Overland. The 4WD systems add between $2,000 and $3,000, while the V6 adds about $1,700. That's right in the heart of competitors like the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and Toyota RAV4, none of which offer a V6 engine. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase price to see what others paid in your area. Also note that the Cherokee's cost of ownership runs better than average, but its resale still lags behind most Japanese competitors.