Ford Escape vs. Jeep Cherokee

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website

, Automotive Editor - April 19, 2017

The Jeep Cherokee bucks the soft-road trend that's dominated the compact CUV segment, thanks to its unusual off-road capability and towing capacity. But how do these more rugged capabilities translate into competitiveness in a realm designed for family-friendly soft-roaders like the Ford Escape?

Keep those eyes moving down the page to find out.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Cherokee & Escape »

What the Escape Gets Right

The Escape is one of the best-driving crossovers in its class, with a ride that's soft when it needs to be but still plenty firm in the corners. Pairing well with the nice handling is the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that injects 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. Even the Escape's midrange 1.5-liter with 179 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque is respectable.

The Escape is also a bit more fuel efficient than the Cherokee, as its range of four-cylinders deliver up to 23 miles per gallon city, 30 highway, and 26 combined while the Jeep maxes out at 21 mpg city, 30 highway, and 25 combined.

The Escape also trumps the Cherokee in cargo-hauling capabilities. The small crossover can swallow 34.3 cubic feet of cargo with the seats upright and 67.8 cubic feet with the seats folded. This is 9.7 cubes more than the Cherokee with the seats up and 8.9 more cubes with the seats down.

While the Cherokee and Escape aren't IIHS Top Safety Picks, the Escape’s “Acceptable” rating in the small-overlap test will leave buyers more confident than the Cherokee’s “Marginal” rating.

What the Cherokee Gets Right

It’s tough to find a small crossover with V6 power, but the Cherokee has just that. And not only is it more potent than anything the Escape offers, at 271 hp, but it also delivers its power smoother than the Escape's turbocharged four-cylinder engines. What’s more, the 184-hp 2.4-liter base engine easily outmuscles the Escape’s base 2.5-liter.

Utility is another area where most small crossovers come up short – the Escape, for example, can tow a maximum of 2,000 pounds. The Cherokee, on the other hand, can handle up to 4,500 pounds with the optional towing equipment installed.

The Cherokee also has a 3 more inches of rear seat leg room compared to the Escape (40.3 inches versus 37.3 inches).

Finally, the more rugged Trailhawk version of the Cherokee puts this Jeep on a pedestal for buyers who like traveling off the beaten path.

Close, but No Cigar

The Cherokee gets close to the Ford Escape, but just barely misses the mark. However, for buyers concerned with off-road capabilities and towing, the Cherokee could be the perfect compromise when debating between a crossover and traditional SUV.

Verdict: Ford Escape

The Escape inches out ahead of the Cherokee by a narrow margin. Ultimately, it comes down to the Escape's better crash ratings and its roomier cargo area. The Escape’s trio of engines, which gives buyers plenty of options, helped out too.

Take a closer look at the Jeep Cherokee »

Take a closer look at the Ford Escape »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website