As with its larger, more luxurious Grand Cherokee sibling, the 2015 Jeep Cherokee drives more like an all-weather sportwagon than a tall, lumbering SUV, offering sharp steering, a carlike ride and precise handling control. All-new for the 2014 model year, it replaced the Liberty in Jeep’s lineup. Built on Fiat’s CUS Wide modular platform, the Cherokee is a compact 4-door SUV featuring unitized body construction, an all-independent suspension and a choice of front-wheel drive (FWD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD). The Cherokee’s cargo space is a bit less than that of its competitors, but the cabin offers ample room for five, and the Jeep’s rear seat slides fore and aft to accommodate varying load-carrying needs.
The base Cherokee with a 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive may shine on sections of twisty pavement, but heavier 4WD versions are best with the optional V6 engine. In addition to the simple on-demand 4WD system, a Trail Rated Trailhawk model with a raised suspension, off-road tires and a 2-speed transfer case with creeper gearing and a locking rear differential holds up Jeep’s legendary off-pavement reputation. A 4WD Selec-Terrain system allows drivers to tailor throttle-response, gear-changing and other parameters according to Sport, Snow, Mud/Sand or Rock settings. All 4WD Cherokees get a compact spare, while front-drive models replace the spare with a tire-inflator/repair canister.
New for 2015 is a standard backup camera on Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk models, plus a fuel-saving stop-start system on V6 models. The optional collision-warning system adds automatic braking. See the 2015 Jeep Cherokee models for sale near you
What We Like
FWD models have great on-road performance; Trailhawk model’s off-road capability; good seats; choice of two 4-wheel-drive systems; Uconnect infotainment; unique front-end look
What We Don’t
No power front passenger seat; lazy acceleration with 4WD and 4-cylinder engine; below-average cargo volume; no spare tire on front-drive models
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
Standard on all models is a 2.4-liter double-overhead-camshaft 4-cylinder with 184 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. With front-wheel drive, it has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, while 4-wheel-drive models with Active Drive I are rated at 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy. Active Drive II 4WD versions with low range get a 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy rating, and Trailhawks achieve 19 mpg city/25 mpg hwy, according to the EPA. The 4-cylinder runs on regular unleaded.
Optional on all but the base Sport model is a Pentastar 3.2-liter DOHC V6 producing 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque. It runs on regular unleaded and works through a 9-speed automatic transmission. New for 2015 is a stop-start system that shuts off the engine at stoplights to save fuel, then restarts when the driver lifts their foot off the brake pedal. Front-wheel-drive models are EPA-rated at an improved 21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy, while 4-wheel-drive models with Active Drive I get a 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy rating, and Active Drive II and Trailhawk 4WD versions achieve 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy. Max towing with the V6 is 4,500 pounds.
Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Cherokee is available in Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk trims.
The Sport’s standard equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control, cloth seat trim, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, a 6-speaker AM/FM stereo with a 5-inch touchscreen, USB port, Bluetooth and voice command, a split-folding rear bench with recline and fore/aft adjustment, 17-in steel wheels, stability and traction control, hill-start assist, dual front airbags, front- and rear-seat side airbags, overhead airbags, front knee airbags, anti-lock 4-wheel disc brakes, Active Drive I with a single-speed transfer case (4-wheel drive only), and power door locks, mirrors and windows.
The Latitude trim gains a backup camera, 17-in alloy wheels, fog lamps, deep-tinted glass, bright roof side rails, a 115-volt power outlet, ambient interior lighting, a fold-flat front passenger seat with under-cushion storage, a leather-wrapped shifter and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with auxiliary audio controls. Four-wheel-drive versions get Active Drive II with a 2-speed transfer case, neutral and hill-descent control.
Upgrading to the Limited nets 18-in alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, leather seat trim, heated front seats and steering wheel, a power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment, automatic headlamps, a rear tonneau cover, cargo net, windshield wiper de-icer, heated side mirrors and an upgrade 8.4-in touchscreen audio with SiriusXM.
The Trailhawk trim brings a Trail-Rated off-road suspension with increased ground clearance, wheel flares, skid plates, a locking rear differential, a 2-speed 4WD transfer case, all-terrain 17-in tires and cloth and leather seats with red stitching.
Among the many Cherokee options, a Technology Group package adds lane-departure and forward-collision warnings, adaptive cruise control and parallel/perpendicular parking assist. A Safety-Tec package brings blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic detection and rear park assist. Other popular options include a panoramic sunroof and a navigation system with an 8.4-in touchscreen.
The Cherokee has great name recognition and reputation for all-weather/all-road ability in the SUV sphere. In the 1990s, the previous-generation Cherokee helped popularize compact SUVs. Four-wheel drive is almost a given for Jeeps, so expect front-wheel-drive versions to command lower prices.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2015 Jeep Cherokee:
Improperly tightened seat fasteners may allow the seats to move, increasing the risk of a crash.
Some radios have software vulnerabilities that allow hackers to access some vehicle control systems, creating a crash risk.
Water may enter and short-circuit the power lift gate module, creating a fire risk.
The overhead and seat side airbags may deploy inadvertently while driving, creating personal injury and crash risks.
Automatic transmission models may suddenly shift into neutral, increasing the risk of a crash.
A misrouted air conditioning hose may contact the exhaust manifold, increasing the risk of a vehicle fire.
Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
NHTSA rated the 2015 Cherokee at four stars overall, with four stars for frontal impacts, five for side impacts and four stars for rollover performance.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2015 Cherokee a Marginal rating for small-offset front impacts, but Good ratings for moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, roof strength, head restraints and seats.
Jeep covered the 2015 Cherokee with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain and 5-year/unlimited-distance corrosion-perforation warranties.
Jeep certified pre-owned cars cannot have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be 5 years old or less. Those that pass a 125-point inspection receive a 3-month/3,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, plus a 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty from the car’s original date of sale. Also included is a Carfax report, 24-hour roadside assistance, a car-rental allowance and a SiriusXM radio 3-month trial.
Other Cars to Consider
2015 Mazda CX-5 — The CX-5’s mix of engaging handling, precise steering and a nicely trimmed interior is best served with the uplevel 184-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. Less convincing is the stoic 155-hp 2.0-liter.
2015 Honda CR-V — Updated for 2015, the CR-V gets a direct-injected 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with more torque and improved fuel economy, a continuously variable automatic transmission, an optional power lift gate and optional advanced safety, such as active lane-keeping and forward collision-mitigation braking.
The value play here is the Cherokee Latitude, which offers alloy wheels, cloth seats, deep-tinted glass and a leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel. The 4-cylinder front-drive Cherokee is a good everyday driver, but if you want 4WD, look for one with the peppier 3.2-liter V6. Given the choice, go for a 4WD version because resale value will be better. Always get a Carfax vehicle-history report and look for a Jeep that’s seen obvious care. Certified pre-owned is a smart way to go, and be sure to check with the dealer to make sure the Cherokee you want has had all applicable safety recall items handled.