A black 2019 GMC Terrain SLE is parked.

How the 2019 GMC Terrain and the 2019 Jeep Cherokee Stack Up


The market for subcompact SUVs like the 2019 GMC Terrain vs 2019 Jeep Cherokee has been exploding in recent years. The market for sedan-style cars is dwindling, and families are more and more frequently opting for a subcompact SUV to transport their kids around. With increasingly good engine options and available features, it’s no wonder that the American public is looking toward vehicles with more cargo and seating space as well as power on the road.

Since there has been a huge surge in the popularity of SUVs, automakers have had to step up their game to compete in a tight market and beat out the competition. This is excellent for consumers, who benefit from the added features and functionality that brands like GMC and Jeep are adding to their SUVs. The 2019 GMC Terrain and the 2019 Jeep Cherokee have many of the same features, but overall, don’t score evenly in many areas.

If you’re wondering how the 2019 GMC Terrain and the 2019 Jeep Cherokee stack up, you’ve come to the right place. Check out these subcompact SUVs’ handling, engine options, design and cargo, and technology features.


One of the biggest reasons modern consumers are more willing to buy an SUV over a sedan-style car is because of increased handling ability. In the past, many of these vehicles (which are simply a large cabin built onto the chassis of a truck) didn’t have the greatest handling. They would take corners hard and didn’t get up to speed quickly. Now, however, many SUVs boast excellent handling on and off the highway without jostling passengers, no matter how many potholes there are. In this category, the 2019 GMC Terrain takes the cake.

No matter how bumpy the pavement, the 2019 GMC Terrain provides a consistently cushioned ride to its passengers. Sharp turns and bends in the road won’t tip passengers sideways either. The Terrain isn’t meant to be a “sporty” SUV, but this vehicle outclasses many of its rivals in terms of driving dynamics. If you’re going to be maneuvering around tight areas, the Terrain won’t give you any issues, making this a good choice for city driving as well as country. The Terrain comes with FWD standard and AWD as an available upgrade.

Like the 2019 GMC Terrain, the 2019 Jeep Cherokee has FWD standard and AWD as an upgradable option. Both of these drivetrains provide a smooth, comfortable ride, but the Cherokee has some problems overall. You’ll notice some body-leaning around corners, which isn’t very pleasant for your passengers, especially on long trips. And while the steering feels to be well-weighted, it isn’t highly responsive. More agile rival subcompact SUVs are definitely out there.

Engine Performance

As mentioned above, the main purpose of these SUVs is to transport families with all their cargo around with ease. They aren’t designed as mega-powerhouses, but we’re pleasantly surprised with the power and engine options of the Terrain and the Cherokee. For fuel efficiency, the GMC Terrain has good MPG estimations and the Cherokee has one of the lowest ratings.

The base engine in the 2019 GMC Terrain is a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 170 horsepower. If you just need a daily driver, this is more than capable of keeping up with normal commutes and excursions. If you want something with a bit more kick, go with the optional 2.0-liter turbo-four engine to get up to speed even faster. This engine produces 252 horsepower and gives the driver more eager acceleration while holding its own when traveling on the highway. Something else that sets the Terrain apart from its competition is the availability of a refined diesel engine. This option makes 137 horsepower. When you’ve just got the base engine equipped, you’ll get an estimated 26 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway. The turbodiesel gets even better ratings, with 28 MPG city and 39 MPG highway.

In the 2019 Jeep Cherokee, you’ll get a standard 180-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission. This standard engine isn’t built to take into account the Cherokee’s weight, however, and you’ll find that it struggles to move such a large vehicle. You’re probably going to want to upgrade to the 270-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine which provides more power for much better acceleration.  You can also opt for an available 271-horsepower 3.2-liter V6 engine to really get the Cherokee moving. With the base engine, the 2019 Jeep Cherokee gets 22 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway, which is one of the lowest ratings for its class.

A red 2019 GMC Terrain Denali is towing red jet skis. Comparing towing and performance when looking at the 2019 GMC Terrain vs 2019 Jeep Cherokee.

Design and Cargo

Having plenty of cargo space is a large drawing point for any SUV. Many people who opt for a new SUV want one because they’ll be able to haul all of their stuff along with them no matter where they go. Both of these SUVs will help families transport sporting equipment, groceries, or luggage, but the Terrain offers significantly more room than the Cherokee which falls behind most competitors in terms of cargo capacity. Both SUVs can fit up to 5 passengers and have decent cabin designs but the insides are drastically different.

In the 2019 GMC Terrain, you can get leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats, power-adjustable front seats, and a heated steering wheel, making this SUV extra comfortable and convenient for its passengers. The cabin is known to be spacious and comfortable up front, while even two average-sized adults can fit in the back seats without a problem, which is something that many rivaling SUVs struggle with. There is 29.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats in the Terrain, which is plenty to fit a few large suitcases. If you want some more room, you can easily fold down the rear seats to create 63.3 cubic feet. Even the front passenger seat folds flat as well, making a maximum of 81 cubic feet so that you can transport even long items like skis and kayaks.

The 2019 Jeep Cherokee struggles to fit in its passengers as comfortably. Adults riding in the front seats won’t feel cramped, but adults riding in the back may find their heads brushing the ceiling, especially when an available sun-roof is installed. Jeep has increased the cargo space in the Cherokee this year so you’ll now find 25.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, an increase of 3 cubic feet over previous years. This amount still doesn’t match the GMC Terrain’s cargo hold and the over cargo area didn’t change much, coming to rest this year at 54.7 cubic feet. Since this amount is significantly lower than many other SUVs in its class, Jeep tried to compensate with a floor cargo hold to store valuables out of sight.


You’ll find plenty of available and standard features in the 2019 GMC Terrain. Every Terrain comes with GMC’s IntelliLink infotainment system and a 7-inch touch screen to go with it. You’ll also get voice recognition, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, four USB ports, Bluetooth, a six-speaker sound system, and a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot! Some available features include navigation, an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, HD radio, satellite radio, a seven-speaker Bose premium sound system, a 110-volt household-style power outlet, two additional USB ports, and wireless device charging. GMC obviously knows that the subcompact SUV market is tightening as more and more families opt for SUVs over sedans, and they’re doing everything they can to provide their buyers with extra goodies.

The Jeep Cherokee doesn’t have quite the exciting list of available and standard features that the Terrain does. The infotainment system has been improved for 2019 and a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and pinch-to-zoom capability have all been added. Luckily, air conditioning is now standard in the Cherokee, something that seems almost criminal to have omitted beforehand. If you’d like a bigger touch-screen, you can upgrade to get an 8.4-inch on. Navigation and satellite radio are also available with an upgrade.

Wrapping Up

Neither of these subcompact SUVs is a bad choice but you’ll find that the Terrain is more likely to meet your families needs and allows for more customization. And will both brands having a long list of features included and available there’s something for everyone. So, regardless of which brand you lean you towards both of these SUVs are worth a look.