2020 Kia Sportage vs. 2019 Jeep Cherokee

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Sportage’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Cherokee doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Sportage and the Cherokee have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, front and rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Kia Sportage is safer than the Cherokee:

Sportage

Cherokee

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

POOR

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

2 cm

4 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

2.4/.1 kN

3.5/1.6 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

1%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Tibia index R/L

.52/.68

.84/.45

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Good” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Sportage the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 88 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Cherokee was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

The Sportage comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Cherokee’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Sportage 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Jeep covers the Cherokee. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Cherokee ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Sportage first among small SUVs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Cherokee isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Jeep vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 30 more problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep is ranked 17th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Jeep vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 41 more problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep is ranked 24th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Jeep vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 17 places higher in reliability than Jeep.

Engine

The Sportage SX Turbo’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 21 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 239) than the Cherokee’s optional 3.2 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the Kia Sportage 2.4 4-cylinder is faster than the Jeep Cherokee 2.4 4-cylinder:

Sportage

Cherokee

Zero to 60 MPH

8 sec

9.5 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

17.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

86.4 MPH

80.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Sportage uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Cherokee with the 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder engine requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Brakes and Stopping

The Sportage stops much shorter than the Cherokee:

Sportage

Cherokee

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

131 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

131 feet

153 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

The Sportage LX’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Cherokee’s 65 series tires. The Sportage SX Turbo’s tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Cherokee Overland’s 50 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Sportage has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Cherokee’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Sportage SX Turbo AWD handles at .83 G’s, while the Cherokee Limited 4x4 pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Sportage SX Turbo AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.8 seconds quicker than the Cherokee Trailhawk 4x4 (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 28.6 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Sportage’s turning circle is 2.8 feet tighter than the Cherokee’s (34.8 feet vs. 37.6 feet). The Sportage’s turning circle is 3.3 feet tighter than the Cherokee 4x4 Trailhawk’s (34.8 feet vs. 38.1 feet).

Chassis

The Kia Sportage may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 pounds less than the Jeep Cherokee.

The Sportage is 5.6 inches shorter than the Cherokee, making the Sportage easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Sportage has .4 inches more front legroom, .5 inches more front hip room, .6 inches more rear headroom and 1.3 inches more rear hip room than the Cherokee.

Cargo Capacity

The Sportage has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Cherokee with its rear seat up (30.7 vs. 24.6 cubic feet). The Sportage has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Cherokee with its rear seat folded (60.1 vs. 54.9 cubic feet).

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Sportage easier. The Sportage’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 29.8 inches, while the Cherokee’s liftover is 30.9 inches.

The Sportage’s cargo area is larger than the Cherokee’s in almost every dimension:

Sportage

Cherokee

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

33.4”/68.2”

33.9”/67.6”

Max Width

52.3”

49.2”

Min Width

41”

39.4”

Height

29.5”

28.8”

Ergonomics

The Sportage has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Cherokee doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are optional on the Sportage to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Cherokee doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

Consumer Reports rated the Sportage’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the Cherokee’s headlights, which were rated “Poor” to “Good” (depending on model and options).

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Sportage owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Sportage with a number “8” insurance rate while the Cherokee is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Sportage is less expensive to operate than the Cherokee because typical repairs cost much less on the Sportage than the Cherokee, including $73 less for a water pump, $286 less for a muffler, $62 less for front brake pads, $301 less for a starter, $361 less for a fuel pump, $63 less for front struts and $440 less for a timing belt/chain.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Kia Sportage will be $2495 to $2564 less than for the Jeep Cherokee.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Sportage, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Jeep Cherokee isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Sportage third among small SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Cherokee isn’t in the top three in its category.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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