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Chevy Equinox vs. Jeep Cherokee

1. Introduction

In terms of driving, the steering is one of the most improved features, providing smooth driving and more confident handling on curvy roads compared to past generations of Jeep Cherokees. Front-wheel drive has Electronic Stability Control to avoid wheel slip and maintain vehicle stability on slippery roads. This is a good safety feature, but it still might not give a confident alternative to having a 4-wheel drive system for winter driving. Some Cherokee models have a rear axle disconnect system when 4wd is not necessary, which further improves fuel economy. Suspension improvements also give a comfortable ride and minimize bouncing on rough terrains. Off-road, the Cherokee still offers superior capability with the choice of three different 4wd systems to choose from, depending on how much off-roading you do. It has good ground clearance and skid plates in case it gets stuck. Overall, the choice of 4wd systems and the off-road package still make the Cherokee a choice for off-road enthusiasts.

The redesigned 2019 Jeep Cherokee has now diverged its appearance from the traditional round headlamp design to slimmer, modernized LED headlamps, which appeal more to on-road and city drivers. There are a lot more trim choices than before, such as Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, and Overland, as well as the off-road insane Latitude Trailhawk. Browsing through the details below, it is still the only vehicle in the category that offers superior off-road capability. The base engine remains a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder Tiger-shark engine producing 180 brake horsepower from the previous model, but with a significant improvement of 3-4 miles more per gallon than the Equinox. This might be a little underpowered option along with the Cherokee weighing heavier. An optional upgrade is the 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 producing 271 brake horsepower and adding 56% more towing capacity compared to the 2.4-liter engine. This is rated for a towing capacity of up to 4500 pounds. However, the new engine that solves both fuel economy and performance needs is the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine producing 270 brake horsepower. This engine comes with stop-start technology, which disconnects the engine during stops to improve fuel economy. The transmission for this engine is a new 9-speed automatic to save on the ever-rising cost of fuel. This transmission makes smoother shifts compared to the same engine on other Chrysler vehicles. It provides better acceleration and pickup compared to the 2.4-liter engine, but still with better fuel efficiency than the 3.2-liter Pentastar V6.

Chevrolet has discontinued the four-cylinder engine from its long-time popular models for the Equinox lineup for 2020. This means that the base engine is now a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder Turbo producing 170 brake horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission. This change might raise some dust according to some car experts, but Chevrolet still offers a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 252 brake horsepower combined with a new 9-speed automatic transmission, making it a choice between fuel economy and performance. Chevrolet has also introduced a slightly revamped design for the interior and exterior, as well as more features like adaptive cruise control, HD surround camera, and the Infotainment 3 system. The rest of the vehicle remains quite the same, which has already superseded other car models, making it a very rare vehicle in the SUV market in terms of comfort and a firm ride. This accommodating-sized vehicle can easily seat 5 passengers and still has enough room for cargo. Although it looks more like a family head turner, it fails to provide a good ground clearance and the 4wd system might limit its ability to go off-road. The step-in height is lower than expected.

1.1. Overview of Chevy Equinox

The main strength of Chevrolet Equinox is its fuel economy, providing great fuel efficient engines with more horsepower. The V6 Equinox version is to include fuel-saving direct injection technology to provide a more efficient driving experience. This version has also been an IIHS top safety pick and has a top five-star rating in the NCAP frontal crash test. Crash test ratings are a strong consideration in this family-car class, and the Equinox does better than most. Despite doing this great, the sales compared to other cars are not that impressive. But this time Chevy has come to stay in the market. Let's hope this car will bring a revolution in the market of SUVs and cross the limits of its competitors and present a tough time for Honda, Toyota, and Ford.

Chevrolet Equinox is a perfect looking small size SUV which offers next-gen styling, great fuel economy, ability to run on E85 Ethanol, and a ton of features at a very low price. Its good comfort and crash test factor also make it worth mentioning. Although Equinox has done a great job of adding value to cheaper SUVs with a low cost of only around $23,000 to $32,000, it can start to get a bit pricey with the V6 AWD version. The interior is designed with a 2-tone color and light grey two-tone trim and has comfortable rear seats. Pricing is what matters in present days of economic downturns.

Chevy Equinox is a mid-size SUV introduced by General Motors in 2005. Chevrolet Equinox has been divided into 2 generations and in all of two generations it has shown its worth. There is also a compact SUV introduced by Chevrolet Equinox in 2010 but there are numerous articles available to discuss the comparison between the compact version and winners of the industry.

1.2. Overview of Jeep Cherokee

The Cherokee KL platform was a joint development project between Chrysler and FIAT that was intended to replace the Liberty KK platform and continue the consumer move to crossover vehicles. The KL platform will be used with the Chrysler 200 and the upcoming replacement of the Dodge Avenger. With Chrysler taking a very hard hit in the automotive industry crash, the Cherokee would be a key factor in make or break for the company, and the crossover nature would bring in a more global demand than previous generations, with sales reaching 150 countries. The overall design phase took three years and was unveiled at the 2013 New York International Auto Show for release in October of the same year as a 2014 competitively aimed for fuel economy and price with prime rivals Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4. Marketing includes a new advertising campaign launched at the end of April 2014 featuring an apple as the product with a callback to the root logo showing how the vehicle will appease the buyer's needs.

Today's Jeep was a division of Chrysler that was acquired by Daimler-Benz in 1998 and then by Chrysler, with Chrysler holding a 20% stake in handover to the current owner, FIAT.

The Jeep Cherokee has an interesting history spanning almost 40 years now. When introduced in 1974, the first generation was a sporty two-door that was recognized more for its use by the military than as a daily driver. The second generation ran from 1984-2001, and this is when Jeep made the move to focus more on the consumer and less on the military. This was the badge on the hood for the first time, and it was this generation that helped spark the SUV craze of the 90s. This led into the third generation that was a large departure from the second. In 2001, the Cherokee took the form of the Jeep Liberty, and the boxy unibody design shifted focus to a new generation of consumers. It was this design that continued in the fourth, still holding a place in the market although having received mixed reviews. Now in 2014, the fifth-generation Cherokee takes a completely different path with a radical redesign to take on the more mainstream crossover market.

2. Performance and Handling

Considering 2014 Jeeps are a far cry from the original brand, it is no surprise that Jeep has designed the Cherokee's new front-WD based system for superior on-road performance while maintaining the Jeep brand's benchmark for off-road capabilities. With best-in-class V6 towing capabilities and likely best-in-class ride and handling, the Equinox is ideally suited as a family-friendly crossover and occasional trailer tower.

Changes in the Equinox and Cherokee's 4-wheel independent suspension and precise rack-and-pinion steering rack for 2014 result in ride and handling improvements for both vehicles. Equinox's long wheelbase and wide stance, in addition to upgraded shock absorbers and hydraulic bushings, provide a smoother, more controlled ride and reduced body roll. Available 18-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels, and a unique 18 or 19-inch wheel package for the 3.6-liter V6, are also new for 2014. The Jeep's new "ZF-based" system provides a more dynamic handling performance for the new Cherokee than the previous model and is particularly noteworthy for its reduction in vehicle noise and vibration. Both vehicles feature rack and pinion steering systems and state-of-the-art 4-wheel disk antilock brake systems. The Equinox is also available with a trailer package that includes trailer assisting features such as hill start assist, a system which holds the vehicle in place for 1.5 seconds on a hill for safer pulling away. Both the Equinox and Cherokee are available in FWD and AWD models.

Both the Equinox and the Cherokee come standard with a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine. However, the Equinox earns a fuel efficiency edge with an estimated 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, compared to the Cherokee's estimated 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. At Equinox LT and LTZ levels, the available 3.0-liter DOHC direct injected V6 engine with 264 horsepower and 222 lb.-ft. of torque provides extra power and capability, while achieving an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. The CRDI engine and its towing capabilities place the Equinox in a class of its own with the ability to tow 3,500 pounds. Jeep offers customers the option to upgrade to a 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 engine with 271 horsepower and 239 lb.-ft. of torque, available only on the Cherokee Limited and Trailhawk 4x4 models. Its fuel efficiency is rated at 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. The upper level engine options for both vehicles certainly validate the Equinox and Cherokee as two of the most powerful crossovers in their class, with an advantage to the Equinox in towing capacity and fuel efficiency.

2.1. Engine Power and Efficiency

The engine power and efficiency are the characteristics that have the most effect on the performance of the SUV. The Chevy Equinox comes with a standard 2.4-liter engine or a 3.0-liter V6 offering. The 2.4-liter engine offers good power output compared to other 4-cylinder engines found in this class, producing 182 horsepower and 172 lb feet of torque. The engine has been criticized in the past for being underpowered but with the significant weight reduction of the new Equinox, it offers acceptable power. The fuel efficiency of the 2.4-liter engine is rated at mid-20s in the city and mid-30s on the highway. This is one of the main benefits of the base engine, offering power output in line with engines in the class above it while still offering a very good fuel economy. The 3.0-liter V6 offered produces 264 horsepower and 222 lb feet of torque. This makes the Equinox one of the fastest vehicles in the class. The drawback is the fuel economy which is rated at 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Compared to other vehicles in this class that also offer a V6, the fuel economy is still not too bad. Overall, the ratings are an A for the engine power and a B for the fuel efficiency. A final option to consider when discussing the engine for the Equinox is the 2.4L engine offered in the 2016 Equinox. This engine offers power on par with the previous 2.4L and marginally better fuel efficiency. It represents the best combination of power and fuel efficiency for the Equinox. This engine is ideal for someone living in a rural area who experiences rough winters but still wants a vehicle that gets good gas mileage.

2.2. Handling and Suspension

However, it must be kept in mind that the Cherokee is marketed as a crossover SUV that is loaded with off-road technology. High body rigidity and weight, coupled with what has been proven as one of the most advanced 4x4 systems in recent years, means the Cherokee is more than competent off-road despite its relatively smooth road-oriented ride.

In addition to weight, "body rigidity" is another factor in how a vehicle handles, brakes, and rides. Body rigidity is a measure of how structurally sound a vehicle's frame and build. High body rigidity is generally a good thing, but it affects ride quality and handling negatively when related to a vehicle with a body-on-frame build or a vehicle with an off-road emphasis. Because the Cherokee uses the same platform as the Chrysler 200 and the Dodge Dart, which are both front-wheel-drive sedan-based vehicles, it is the only vehicle in its class to employ a front-wheel-drive-based system with a fully independent suspension. The Equinox employs a fully independent suspension as well; however, the body is mounted on a "unibody" design, which is indicative of most road-going vehicles. This is compared to a "body-on-frame" design, which uses two separate modular pieces to build a vehicle's structure. The body-on-frame design is more robust and is ideal for off-road use and/or towing; however, it is heavier and has a decreased ability to absorb shock and vibration compared to the more standard unibody design. From this, it can be determined that the unibody Equinox has an edge in handling and ride quality. The increase in weight and unibody design means that the Equinox will have a smoother ride, lower road noise, and improved handling compared to the Cherokee.

The Equinox, at a minimum, weighs 3782 pounds, and the Cherokee weighs 4000 pounds. Weight is a significant factor in how any car handles, brakes, and accelerates. The increase in weight of the Cherokee can be directly attributed to the availability of a V6 engine as well as the towing capacity that Jeep aimed to be the best in class. Acceleration and braking will be discussed in a later chapter, but it is important to note that because the Cherokee is simply heavier, it is a slower vehicle compared to the Equinox.

The Equinox and the Cherokee, despite both being marketed in similar classes, are built on two different platforms, which inherently affect how the vehicles handle. The Equinox shares a platform with the GMC Terrain, as well as with the Opel Insignia and the now-discontinued Volvo S60. Alternatively, the Cherokee shares a platform with the Chrysler 200 and the Dodge Dart. While the Equinox and the Cherokee are each the only vehicles in their class to be marketed with a 4-cylinder engine using a 6-speed automatic transmission, the similarities end there. This is due to the weight and build structure of the two vehicles affecting the ride quality, steering, and road noise.

2.3. Off-Road Capabilities

Both the Equinox and the Cherokee are available in a variety of drivetrains. Two-wheel drive models are less off-road oriented and are designed for driving on the road. Both offer a 2WD (two-wheel drive) mode; however, the system is a bit different in each. The Equinox's system is called the FWD (front-wheel drive) with Disconnect. This system is for improved efficiency as it will only engage the rear wheels when extra traction is necessary. A 2WD Jeep Cherokee comes with is called Active Drive I. This system also only sends power to the rear wheels when traction is needed, drawing power from the front wheels when AWD is not required. The Jeep system is a bit more off-road oriented and has the ability to "lock" the drive mode (4WD LOCK), which sends power to all four wheels. The Equinox does not offer a true lock mode on the 2WD models. Only the AWD Equinox has the ability to fully engage the rear wheels in 4x4 mode. The Jeep offers a more advanced FWD system in the Active Drive II and Active Drive Lock systems for real off-road capability. Active Drive II has a low range for more serious off-road conditions, while Active Drive Lock adds a locking rear differential for better traction in slippery conditions or off-road. The Equinox AWD system is more designed for extra on-road traction and the ability to handle inclement weather. The AWD Equinox has the ability to fully engage the rear wheels for four-wheel drive mode and lock them with the "4X4" button on the dash. The off-road capabilities of both vehicles are further enhanced if you have a trailer you need to get to a campsite or if the area you want to access is only accessible by towing a vehicle for part of the journey. The Equinox has a 1500lb max towing capacity on the 1.5L FWD engine and a 3500lb max capacity on all other engine types. The 2.0 Turbo engine can tow 3500lbs on the 2WD and AWD model, and the 1.6L diesel can tow 1500lbs in FWD and 3500lbs in AWD. The Jeep can also tow up to 4500lbs and has a special trailer tow group on the V6 models.

3. Interior Features and Comfort

Both vehicles will likely be utilized for family use or daily commuting, making in-car connectivity and entertainment an important feature. The Jeep Cherokee is equipped with the Uconnect system featuring an 8.4 inch display located in the center console. This provides touch screen or button press options for easy navigation between audio, climate controls, and phone functions. The ease of use for this system is considered a Cherokee strong suit, as the touch screen response time and menu flow are better than the average when compared to similar systems. The Chevy Equinox has an improved MyLink system with a 7 or 8 inch diagonal display. The system is smartphone compatible and equipped with the OnStar 4G LTE and built-in Wi-Fi which is an available paid subscription. Most USB port and power options are located in the center console for front and rear users. This may be problematic when multiple devices are being used by multiple passengers. Evident from the previous information, most consumers suggest that the Uconnect system is the easier and more convenient of the two. Both vehicles have available SiriusXM radio, Bluetooth features, and voice command recognition. It is important to cross-reference available features between trim levels, as features such as SiriusXM radio may not be available for the base models.

Another significant area of comparison considers overall interior space and comfort, as this is an especially important purchase consideration in this vehicle segment. Perhaps the quintessential example of design evolution is the Jeep Cherokee. The previous generation was criticized for its lack of cargo space and small rear seat, but the current model remedied those issues. Cargo capacity is average for the segment with 24.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 54.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. The Cherokee also features a unique sliding rear seat which allows the rear occupants to recline for additional comfort or to slide back for additional cargo space. This is especially useful for potential buyers with small children. The Chevy Equinox offers a bit more cargo space with 29.9 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 63.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. However, the lack of rear seat space in the Equinox is concerning, providing very limited head and leg room for the rear seat passengers. A larger adult or growing teenagers will lack comfort during longer car rides. This issue of rear seat space could be a deal breaker for families with older children, or those vehicles very carpool friendly.

3.1. Cabin Space and Seating Capacity

Overall, the Jeep Cherokee and Chevy Equinox are more popularly viewed cars. Broadly speaking, I personally think that a customer would be more satisfied with the interior of the Equinox. Starting with the Chevy, its four-wheel anti-lock braking system and four-wheel drive can come in handy for all sorts of weather conditions. The size of this vehicle is significantly larger, making it more family-friendly and comfortable for moving around in harsh conditions. It has second-hand cup holders which come in handy for both the passenger and the driver. The seats are adjustable and removable as well. The fold-down rear seats are great for extra trunk space. Mileage on the Equinox is 19-26 mpg. Now on to the Jeep, the four-wheel drive option is definitely a plus, although it lags behind the Equinox. The Jeep's braking system is not as good, as it only has a rear-wheel anti-lock brake system which can be more dangerous than expected, especially when living in Pittsburgh with all the hills. This type of vehicle is significantly smaller than the Equinox, so it has less trunk space, making it less family-friendly and seating for 5. The gas mileage on the Jeep is 18-22 mpg. The Equinox provides seating for 5, while the Jeep Cherokee only seats 4. Both cars have the basic side driver and passenger airbags, equipped with the head and curtain airbag as well. The adjustable tilting steering wheel and cruise control come standard in each vehicle. Each vehicle provides AM/FM radio with CD player and MP3. Although both have their specific advantages in the area, the choice in vehicle being family-oriented or single plays a huge factor in what the customer is satisfied with buying. If you are single, the Jeep would be more suitable because of its size and capability on rough terrain. If you are family-oriented, the Equinox would be more suitable for its size and comfort, starting with travel and cabin space.

3.2. Infotainment and Connectivity

The Cherokees Uconnect 8.4A infotainment software package. The 8.4A package includes an 8.4-inch color touch screen, a single-disc CD/DVD player, MP3/WMA and JPEG compatibility, an audio jack, two USB ports, an SD card reader, SiriusXM where the consumer will have a one-year free subscription, Bluetooth using Voice Command, Bluetooth streaming audio, Pandora, SiriusXM Travel Link, SiriusXM Traffic, and Uconnect Access with an included six-month trial. At the one-step lower Uconnect 8.4AN package, navigation capability is added to the mix. This level of infotainment provides intuitive and easy-to-figure-out software, quick response time, and plenty of features to make the consumer happy. However, there is a price to pay. The 8.4A package sacrifices usability and response time for an extra four inches of screen. Potential buyers should take both models for a "test drive" at the dealership before purchasing. Step down to the Uconnect 8.4A system, and infotainment functionality drops significantly. Features such as Travel Link, Traffic, and SiriusXM radio all require a paid subscription to function. Access to these services is not the only advantage of the 8.4AN package. Uconnect Access, which is provided with a one-year free trial at the 8.4AN level, includes emergency assistance, vehicle finder, Send N' Go, and remote vehicle functions via a smartphone app or customer care agent. Uconnect Access can be a lifesaver and a convenience to many consumers and could possibly be worth the extra money alone for some. The services offered are varied and cover a number of situations. For example, the vehicle finder function can act both as an anti-theft device and a memory aid for the owner who has forgotten where they parked. Emergency assistance and service call provide peace of mind for the driver and passengers.

3.3. Comfort and Convenience Features

Chevy Equinox - Equinox leads again in this category beyond the shadow of a doubt. With an air of simplicity and convenience, the Equinox's layout is easy to use. The steering wheel-mounted controls and toggle buttons for the three-zone climate control are within reach yet not overbearing. Convenience and luxury features available to the Equinox include a power liftgate (with adjustable height settings to avoid hitting lower overhangs), remote start, keyless entry and ignition, memory setting for the driver's seat, and universal home remote. Aspects unique to the Equinox include several storage areas such as the oversized glove box, an oversized storage bin under the center armrest, and the generous by size and depth two-tier rear cargo area. Also available on the premier models are heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. Safety features found throughout all Equinox models include a rear vision camera, rear park assist, and rear cross-traffic alert. All mentioned features are so far unavailable on the Jeep Cherokee at any price point. The Equinox is hands down the winner in this category.

4. Safety and Technology

Chevy's Equinox is fully loaded with safety features and has received excellent scores in safety. The IIHS gave the Equinox good ratings in front offset, side impact, and roof strength tests, to name a few. Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front seat airbags, a driver knee airbag, and side curtain airbags. The vehicle also has an OnStar system, which is very beneficial during the event of a crash. The OnStar adviser can send for help for you as it detects an accident, and it comes with added features such as remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance, turn-by-turn navigation, and more. As for results in crash tests, Jeep's Cherokee also received good results on crash tests from the IIHS. The standard safety equipment it comes with, unlike the Equinox, includes child seat anchors, a remote anti-theft alarm system, an engine immobilizer, and a tire pressure monitoring system. This is quite fewer features compared to the Equinox, so the point for safety is awarded to Chevy on this one.

4.1. Advanced Safety Features

The two SUVs offer outstanding safety features, and they have both received good crash test ratings from the Insurance Institute Highway Safety. Both have a host of available active safety features including adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure prevention, and forward collision mitigation. However, the Jeep goes a step ahead and offers a more advanced parking assistance system with parallel and perpendicular park assist. It also offers an automation system for parking the vehicle using an in-built or mobile phone controlled remote, which the Chevy does not offer. Another missed feature in the Chevy is the avoidance technology coupled with the forward collision mitigation, which the Jeep offers. The Cherokee offers a safety feature targeting the protection of passengers in case of an off-road emergency. The S.O.S system lets the passengers signal for help using the application on the rearview mirror in case of any emergency. The safety features offered are more or less the same, although the Jeep offers more advanced technology in the general safety features. Both SUVs offer a 3-year/36,000-mile basic and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance.

4.2. Driver-Assistance Technologies

When choosing a new vehicle, the number of engine options and safety features can make a world of difference in the experience. In considering the Chevy Equinox and the Jeep Cherokee, we need to compare how the different options for each vehicle stack up against one another. First and foremost, the base engine for the Equinox is a 1.5L turbo 4-cylinder engine, which is more fuel efficient than the standard engine for the Cherokee, a 2.4L Inline-4 engine. However, the base engine for the Cherokee has more horsepower at 180 compared to that of the Equinox at 170. The base engine for the Equinox will suit anyone trying to save money in fuel costs and drive less aggressively, while anyone that wants more power and speed off the line will find the base engine for the Cherokee more appealing. Both vehicles have other engine options that appeal to different driving styles, such as the 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder for the Equinox. This engine has 252 horsepower and is obviously more costly compared to the standard engine, but will suffice for anybody that wants a faster driving experience. The Cherokee offers a 3.2L V6 engine with 271 horsepower, a Trailhawk Elite 3.2 L V6 engine, and a 2.0L I-4 Turbo engine. This gives the Cherokee a more expensive yet greater variety of options for those wanting to find a more powerful and faster driving experience.

4.3. Infotainment and Connectivity Options

The Jeep Cherokee's infotainment system, referred to as Uconnect, is widely known as one of the more user-friendly systems in the market. It has an easy to navigate interface, quick response times, and the redundant buttons and knobs are an improvement over previous touch-screen only generations. The Equinox offers MyLink, which has also been known for its user friendliness and quick response times. Both systems offer similar features such as voice command and smartphone app integration though Uconnect has been known to be a bit more reliable. The Jeep Cherokee starts at a base price of $23,995, and ranges all the way up to $37,695. The Chevy Equinox starts at $24,995 and ranges all the way up to $38,040. Uconnect comes as a standard in all models, but a bigger and advanced touchscreen interface is available in the upper trim levels. The same goes for MyLink, as a 7-inch diagonal color touch-screen is available on the upper trim levels and models with the bigger screen provide you with a navigation feature. Overall, the systems in both vehicles have a lot to offer and are highly competitive in terms of infotainment and connectivity. However, the quicker response time and reliability of Uconnect gives the Cherokee the slight edge.