Jeep Cherokee Vs Ford Edge: Off-Road Traction or Paved-Road Performance, Which SUV Is For You?

Chris Chase
by Chris Chase

The car-based crossover SUVs that dominate today’s new-vehicle marketplace were never intended to replace off-road trucks and utilities, but a market is emerging nonetheless for crossovers that can handle some rough going.

Among recent additions to the crossover landscape are the Subaru Outback Wilderness, the Toyota RAV4 Adventure, and the Ford Explorer Timberline.

Of course, those models are all playing catchup to Jeep, which for years has been making crossovers (and outright SUVs, of course) that go off the beaten track. Consider the Cherokee, which starts out as a modest front-wheel drive model but offers a rugged Trailhawk trim with serious off-road credentials.

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For this comparison, the Jeep Cherokee goes up against the Ford Edge, another popular crossover vehicle, but one that aims for mass-market appeal with a bias toward on-road performance bolstered by a sharp-driving ST trim level.

If you’re in the market for an American-made family-sized crossover, keep reading and we’ll help you decide which one of these two might best suit your needs.

Cabin space

Cherokee: Jeep measures the Cherokee’s maximum front-seat headroom at 39.4 inches (1,001 mm) without the optional sunroof and 37.9 inches (963 mm) with the sunroof. Front-seat legroom maxes out at 41.1 inches (1,044 mm).

Jeep says the Cherokee’s rear seat offers 38.5 inches (978 mm) of headroom, and up to 40.3 inches (1,024 mm) of legroom.

Edge: The Ford’s front-seat headroom is 40.2 in. (1,021 mm), and those riding in the back get a bit more, with 40.3 in (1,024 mm) of headroom. Legroom measures 42.6 in. (1,082 mm) up front, and 40.6 in. (1,031 mm) for rear-seat passengers.

SEE ALSO: Ford Bronco Sport vs Jeep Cherokee: Which SUV is Right for You?

Bottom Line: All of the Ford Edge’s cabin space measurements are more generous, in theory making it the better choice for taller drivers and passengers; in most cases the Edge’s advantage is a narrow one, but it’s enough to take the win in this category.

Cargo and towing

Cherokee: According to Jeep’s specs, any Cherokee with a Class II trailer hitch can tow as much as 2,000 lbs (906 kg). If you add the optional trailer tow package and its Class III hitch, you can tow up to 4,000 lbs (1,812 kg) of trailer weight with the 2.0L turbo engine, and 4,500 lbs (2,038 kg) in a Cherokee powered by the 3.2L V6.

Behind the Cherokee’s rear seats you get 25.8 cu. ft. (730 liters) of cargo space, which you can expand to 27.6 cu-ft (781 liters) by adjusting the cargo floor to its lowest position. With the rear seats folded, cargo volume is 54.7 cu-ft (1,548 liters).

Edge: You can use an AWD Ford Edge to tow 3,500 lb (1,586 kg), but the company doesn’t say whether that also applies to a FWD version.

The Ford Edge has 39.2 cu. ft. (1,110 liters) of cargo space behind the rear seats, and you can expand that to 73.4 cu. ft. (2,078 liters) with the rear seats folded.

Bottom Line: Which of these vehicles you consider the winner depends on whether you want to carry your cargo inside or tow it behind you. The Jeep Cherokee is the towing champ, but the Ford Edge boasts far more cargo space in its interior. For everyday driving, we think cargo space is more important, so on that basis, we give the Ford Edge the win.


Cherokee: You can choose from three different engines in the Jeep Cherokee. First is a 2.4L four-cylinder with 180 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque. A 3.2L V6 option generates 271 hp and 239 lb-ft, and the final choice is a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder making 270 hp and 295 lb-ft.

All three Cherokee engines come with a nine-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive, but Jeep offers three different 4×4 systems. Active Drive I is a fully automatic setup that only engages the rear axle if the front wheels slip. Active Drive II adds 4×4 low-range gearing and a neutral setting. Finally, the Trailhawk comes with Active Drive Lock, a full-time system that uses an active on-demand clutch, low-range and neutral settings, and a locking differential.

Edge: In the Ford Edge, SE, SEL, ST-Line and Titanium trims all use a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder (250 hp/275 lb-ft of torque) that comes with an eight-speed transmission and your choice of front- or all-wheel drive.

Edge ST models use a 2.7L turbocharged V6 that generates 335 hp and 380 lb-ft. It also comes mated to an eight-speed transmission, but gets AWD as standard.

SEE ALSO: Ford Mustang Mach-E vs Tesla Model Y Comparison

Bottom Line: We give the Ford Edge the win here for its more potent standard engine and the ST’s powerful upgrade. Like the towing versus cargo debate, you may place more importance on the Cherokee’s off-road options, but given how most buyers use SUVs, we think strong on-road performance is more significant.

Fuel economy

Cherokee: estimates the Jeep Cherokee’s 2.4L four-cylinder engine at 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, or 25 mpg combined. With optional 4WD, the Cherokee 2.4’s ratings are 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined.

If you combine the Cherokee’s 3.2L V6 with FWD, its ratings are 20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined; V6/4WD estimates are 19 city/27 hwy/22 combined.

A front-drive Cherokee with the 2.0L turbo engine is rated for 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined, and 4WD estimates for a turbo model are 21 city/29 hwy/24 combined.

Cherokee models with Active Drive II or the Trailhawk’s Active Drive Lock 4×4 system are less efficient, but the difference is most notable in the Trailhawk, where the 3.2L V6’s ratings are 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined.

Edge: Ford estimates the Edge’s fuel economy at 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined for a 2.0L/FWD model or 21 city/28 highway/23 combined with AWD. Turbo V6-powered ST models are rated at 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined.

Bottom Line: Here, we give the win to the Jeep Cherokee. It’s available 3.2L V6’s fuel economy nearly matches that of the Ford Edge’s; meanwhile, the Cherokee’s available 2.0L turbo is both more powerful and a bit more efficient than Ford’s turbo 2.0L.


Cherokee: No matter which Jeep Cherokee trim you choose, it includes forward collision detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and blind-spot monitoring with a cross-traffic alert.

Safety options include rear park assist with automatic braking, automatic high beams, radar cruise control. Notably, Jeep’s option list does not include a 360-degree exterior camera system.

Edge: Ford Edge SE comes standard with the Co-Pilot 360 suite, which includes a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping alert and assistance, forward collision alert with emergency braking, rear parking sensors, and automatic high beams.

In the Edge’s SEL, ST-Line, Titanium, or ST trims, Ford offers Co-Pilot 360 Assist+ as an option, which means you get adaptive cruise control, lane centering, and an evasive steering assist system. The Ford Edge Titanium also offers active park assist with front and rear parking sensors.

Bottom Line: The Ford Edge and Jeep Cherokee come standard with similar lists of basic driver safety assists, but Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 Assist+ option makes the Edge a better companion for long highway drives, so Ford takes the win in this category.

Tech and features

Cherokee: The Jeep Cherokee Latitude comes with 17-inch tires on aluminum wheels, and 18- and 19-inch wheels are available elsewhere. LED headlights and taillights and rain-sensing wipers are standard across the line. Latitude Plus trim gains heated front seats, passive keyless entry, and fog lights.

Altitude models get a power driver’s seat, and Latitude Lux adds Nappa leather seating. In the Cherokee’s 80th Anniversary trim, you get a panoramic sunroof, a digital gauge cluster, dual-zone A/C, and an 8.4-inch infotainment display. Limited adds a power tailgate, and High Altitude models gain navigation. You can also option Limited with a hands-free tailgate. Ventilated front seats are part of an option package in Limited trim, and an auto-dimming mirror is optional in Latitude Lux and Trailhawk models.

Edge: Among the Ford Edge SE’s notable standard features are LED headlights and taillights, dual-zone automatic A/C, 18-inch wheels, a 12.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, and passive keyless entry. SEL trim adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, upgraded seat fabric, heated front seats with power adjustments, and LED fog lights with signature lighting.

ST-Line gains 20-inch wheels, a power tailgate, wireless smartphone charging, and a universal garage door opener. Titanium also builds on the SEL model with leather seating, a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, a 110-volt power outlet, a 12-speaker stereo, wireless charging, and a garage door remote.

Bottom Line: The Ford Edge starts out with the advantage here as it gets dual-zone A/C and a 12.0-inch touchscreen as standard; dual-zone HVAC is optional in the Cherokee and the Jeep’s touchscreen is smaller. And when it comes to options, Ford offers wireless smartphone charging in the Edge, but that convenient item is not available in the Jeep Cherokee. Ford gets the win in this category.


Cherokee: 2021 Jeep Cherokee prices start at $28,705 in Latitude trim. It’s followed by Freedom ($29,990), Latitude Plus ($31,020), Altitude ($32,460), Latitude Lux ($32,370), 80th Anniversary ($34,550), Limited ($36,525), Trailhawk ($37,825), and High Altitude ($39,215). All prices include FWD except Trailhawk, which comes standard with 4WD; in all other trims, 4WD adds $1,500 to the price.

Edge: The 2021 Ford Edge is priced to start at $33,495 in SE trim. SEL carries an MSRP of $36,435 and ST-Line and Titanium are both offered for $40,185. In all trims, adding AWD costs $1,995. The sport-oriented Edge ST comes standard with AWD at $44,845.

Bottom Line: If you’re shopping based on price, the Jeep Cherokee is the clear winner, with a starting MSRP about $6,000 less than that of the Ford Edge. The Edge is more expensive when comparing high-end trims, though the difference is smaller. Also, Ford’s optional AWD system is more expensive than the Cherokee’s 4WD options.

Verdict: Jeep Cherokee vs. Ford Edge

Ford wins in five of our seven categories in this comparison, and while that gives the Edge an overall victory over the Jeep Cherokee, it’s not a runaway win for the Ford. The Jeep is less expensive, its 2.0L turbo engine is more efficient than the Ford’s, and the Cherokee can tow more than the Ford Edge.

Where the Edge shines, though, is in its everyday usefulness: it has more interior and cargo space, extra (optional) safety features, and a more generous list of standard technology items.

Still, these two SUVs are clearly designed for different audiences: the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is an off-road champ, while the Edge ST is geared for sharp on-road handling and speed. So while we think the Ford Edge is the better choice as a daily driver, both of these vehicles offer something special for an SUV driver seeking something out of the ordinary.

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Chris Chase
Chris Chase

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