Although nearly every manufacturer is jumping into the game, many buyers are attracted to brands that have some credibility in the market. Jeep, of course, is the trailblazer of the genre, and the Cherokee has been around for longest. But is history enough to make it a better buy for you, especially against the newly refreshed Hyundai Santa Fe Sport? Let's put them side-by-side and see.

2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport vs Jeep Cherokee


How a vehicle looks almost always matters, but it really matters with crossovers. The Santa Fe Sport is the shorter wheelbase version of the Santa Fe, and this year's substantial refresh has only further enhanced its appeal. The new front and rear fascias, new headlights, new trim panels, and new taillights have taken the Sporty look of this model to new heights. It's sleek and modern, but still upright and tall enough to feel very SUV-like.

The front fascia of the Jeep Cherokee is very unique and instantly identifiable, but that's not necessarily a good thing. The look was very modern when it was launched a few years ago, but it's dated itself very quickly. The rest of the Jeep's styling is pretty vanilla and, dare we say, boring as a whole. There really is no comparison here whatsoever as the Santa Fe Sport is by far the more attractive vehicle of the two.

Engines & Performance

Hyundai has chosen to go with a pair of four-cylinder engines for the Santa Fe Sport. The standard unit is a very capable and worthy non-turbo, 185 horsepower 2.5-liter inline-four, and the other is a 240 horsepower 2.0-liter turbo. The more powerful unit lives up to the sporty claim in the Hyundai's name, but the naturally aspirated unit will be enough for most buyers.

The Cherokee offers the choice between a 184 horsepower 2.4-liter inline-four and a 3.2-liter V-6. The Jeep's V-6 is more powerful than the 2.0-liter turbo in the Hyundai, but because it's not the most modern engine it's also not as powerful as some might think. But at 271 horsepower, it is more than the Santa Fe Sport can muster, so this is a narrow win for the Jeep.


Crossovers are not always as highly rated for safety as some buyers assume, but the Santa Fe Sport fares pretty well in this area. The Hyundai gets a full five-star rating from the feds at the NHTSA, and it holds Top Safety Pick status from the IIHS, which is close to being as good as it gets.

Although the architecture of the Cherokee is relatively new, the Jeep is having a tough time impressing the safety ratings agencies so far. The NHTSA only gives it four stars overall, and the IIHS stops short of making it a Top Safety Pick, which therefore hands another round to the Hyundai.


You'll get 108 cu.-ft. of passenger volume inside the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, which is pretty good for the relatively compact exterior proportions. A lack of a third-row seat definitely helps make the Santa Fe Sport more spacious for its five passengers--front and rear leg and head room is more than adequate. The style and levels of comfort are very good for the price.

As far as dimensions for passengers are concerned, the interior of the Jeep is almost identical to the Hyundai. However, when it comes to cargo space it's another matter entirely. The Jeep offers just 24.6 cu.-ft. behind the rear seats, while the Hyundai trounces its rival with a massive 35.4 cu.-ft. The materials and surfaces are those of a more expensive model, but the cargo space deficiencies give another win to the Santa Fe Sport.

Learn More about the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

The Jeep Cherokee is a good choice if you're looking for a crossover with very unique styling and is reasonably good all around. In company like the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, though, reasonably good just simply isn't enough. The Hyundai does far more than the Cherokee, making the Santa Fe Sport the best choice for the money.