Jeep Cherokee vs. Subaru Forester (Latest Model): 11 Big Differences


The Jeep Cherokee and Subaru Forester aren’t the best-selling vehicles in the crowded small SUV segment, but they more than hold their own. The two vehicles also have distinct personalities in a segment dominated by lookalikes. The Jeep Cherokee may be the market’s most capable compact sport utility vehicle. Similarly, the Subaru Forester has taken the lead in class safety, echoing one of the brand’s most important messages. 

Though we prefer the Cherokee’s versatility, both vehicles have something unique to offer drivers. The 2020 Jeep Cherokee has three powertrain options, starting with a four-cylinder engine as standard, whereas the Forester only has a four-cylinder engine option. The difference is that the 2020 Jeep Cherokee has excellent towing capacity and off-road performance with a 4-wheel drive. The Cherokee and Forester appeal to buyers who would never consider segment leaders like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, so let’s see how they compare.

Engine & Horsepower

The Cherokee has several engine options, the most advanced being a 2.0-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder engine with 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. It comes with an efficient 9-speed automatic transmission and stop-start engine technology. A normally aspirated 180-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard, and a normally aspirated 271-horsepower 3.2-liter V6 engine is optional. The 2020 Jeep Cherokee offers three distinct 4×4 systems — Active Drive I, Active Drive II, and Active Drive Lock — demonstrating Jeep’s commitment to off-roading.

Unlike the Cherokee, the Forester is powered by a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed direct-injection 4-cylinder engine that produces 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired with continuous transmission of Subaru Lineartronic CVT, contributing to the SUV’s combined fuel economy of 29 miles per gallon. While the Cherokee has front-wheel drive and three 4-wheel-drive systems, all Foresters have Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. Standard Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-DRIVE) is a multi-mode system that allows the driver to tailor settings to the driving conditions.


The interior of the Jeep Cherokee is both visually appealing and perfectly comfortable. The well-sculpted dash and high-quality materials give the impression of being in a luxury vehicle, especially in higher trim levels like the Overland. Optional heated and ventilated front seats with memory are available, as are 60/40 split second-row seats that adjust fore and aft for increased comfort and cargo capacity.

A USB port and 115-volt outlet are located in the media hub ahead of the center console, along with a convenient location for smartphone storage and charging. The Cherokee is a comfortable, cozy place for five people.

The Subaru Forester seats five people and offers increasing levels of luxury as prices rise. The leather-wrapped steering wheel, 10-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, rear-seat air conditioning outlets in the center console, and a cargo area cover are standard on the high-volume Premium trim level. The interior of the Sport trim is unique, featuring dark gray material with orange stitching and accents.

Perforated leather-trimmed upholstery and dual-zone climate control distinguish the Limited trim. The Touring trim level includes heated rear seats, black or saddle brown perforated leather upholstery, a 10-way power driver’s seat with 2-position memory, an 8-way power front passenger seat, and heated rear seats.

Specification & Features 

Although both vehicles are well-known for their off-road prowess, only the Forester comes standard with all-wheel drive. All Forester models come standard with symmetrical all-wheel drive, which provides the best traction and control when tackling Arizona’s rugged terrain. The Cherokee has a 4×4 system, but it only comes with front-wheel drive as standard.

All 2020 Subaru Forester models are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine with 182 horsepower. The Cherokee falls short with a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine producing 180 horsepower.

The Forester gets up to 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, which helps you save money at the pump. The Cherokee offers slightly less, up to 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

Fuel Economy / Gas Mileage 

In the wake of the rising gas prices across the world, fuel economy has gained further importance in factors considered when choosing an SUV. Regarding fuel economy, the 2020 Subaru Forester gets slightly better results than the 2020 Jeep Cherokee. The 2020 Subaru Forester has a city rating of 26mpg and a highway rating of 33mpg. In comparison, the 2020 Jeep Cherokee gets 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The Subaru Forester wins here, although the 2020 Jeep Cherokee has a larger tank. 

Read More: 2022 Subaru Forester Review + Specs, Price & All FAQs


Vehicle maintenance is an essential factor for proper vehicle operation. The 2020 Subaru Forester is easy to maintain, as it has the lowest average yearly repair cost in Subaru’s all-wheel-drive lineup. On the other hand, the annual maintenance cost of a Jeep Cherokee is $520. The 2020 Subaru Forester has its 

Common Problems 

The four most common Jeep Cherokee issues are erratic electronic shifting, engine stalling while driving, alternator failure, and ignition switch malfunction. As for Subaru Forester, the common problems include issues with the powertrain, electrical issues, and the engine.


While a 2020 Jeep Cherokee or Subaru Forester can be purchased for around $25,000, most buyers prefer to move up the trim ladder slightly. While a 2020 Jeep Cherokee or Subaru Forester can be purchased for around $25,000, most buyers will prefer to move up the Cherokee buyers may be looking for more serious off-road capability, whereas outback buyers may be looking for more luxury and convenience. 

A base front-wheel-drive Cherokee costs around $26,000, plus a hefty $1,495 destination fee. The base Forester costs less than $25,000, with a $1,010 destination charge from Subaru. The off-road Trailhawk trim costs around $35,000, while the abundant Overland 4×4 trim costs nearly $39,000. A full-boat Touring trim level Forester that is heavily equipped with convenience and safety features is around $36,000.

A base The Subaru Forester is less expensive than the base Cherokee, and it comes standard with all-wheel drive, giving it a price advantage.

Safety & Reliability 

The 2020 Jeep Cherokee offers an impressive array of active safety features depending on trim level. Forward Collision Warning-Plus, Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus, and LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus are on the list. In addition to a rear backup camera with dynamic grid lines, the available ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist uses ultrasonic parking sensors on the bumper to locate and guide you into an available parking space. It also has Electronic Stability Control, Blind-spot Monitoring,  Electronic Roll Mitigation, and Rear Cross Path detection. The system controls the steering automatically, while the driver controls the forward and reverse gear selection, brake, and accelerator.

The Subaru Outback 2020 comes out on top in terms of comfort, but only just. Both models have power-adjustable front seats, a heated steering wheel, and heated front and rear outboard seats. These features are available earlier on the 2020 Outback, but the lower trim levels of the 2020 Forester get water-repellant StarTex upholstery and leather-trimmed upholstery.


The Cherokee is a few inches wider than the Forester, but the 2020 Forester’s interior space is maximized to provide more cargo space for the items you want to bring with you. The 2020 Forester is 182 inches long and 72 inches wide, with 35.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a maximum of 76.1 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. It includes a 60/40 split-folding rear seat as standard for added versatility. The front legroom is a generous 43.3 in.

The five-passenger 2020 Cherokee is also 182 inches long and 73-75 inches wide, offering 25.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat and 54.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat folded down. The Cherokee also has a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, a hidden cargo floor, and a sliding second row. The front legroom is 41.1 inches.

Why Choose Jeep Cherokee vs. Subaru Forester

Although the Subarus are generally well-known for their exceptional safety and sturdy construction, on the other hand, the Cherokee has raised the bar in terms of safety in the 2020 Jeep Cherokee. The exceptional safety features in Jeep’s Safety and Security system are unparalleled.

2020 Subaru Forester

Why Choose Subaru Forester over Jeep Cherokee

The 2020 Subaru Forester distinguishes itself by including all-wheel drive as standard. Furthermore, the Forester has a high fuel efficiency rating. The Forester has a combined real-world fuel economy of 28 mpg.


You’ll be in control of your 2020 Cherokee thanks to Jeep’s SelecTerrain traction capabilities, whether you’re driving through snow, mud, sand, or rock. The 2020 Subaru Forester gets an impressive 33 mpg on the highway, but the 2020 Cherokee isn’t far behind with 31 mpg. Because of the Cherokee Trailhawk’s specifications, you’ll be fording water, maneuvering tight corners, and dominating unblazed trails. 

With seven trims, the Cherokee offers more options than the Forester, which only has five.

Regarding all-around rugged off-road capability, the Subaru Forester will deliver – regardless of trim level. While the Jeep is equally at home in the suburbs and on the sand, it can only compete with the Forester if you pay more for the extras.

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