Jeep Cherokee Sport Mode: What Does Sport Mode Do In a Jeep Cherokee?

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I remember like it was yesterday using Jeep Cherokee Sport Mode feature when the Selec-Terrain was introduced in Jeep Cherokee (KL) in 2014; it was a feature Jeep had introduced earlier in 2011 with the Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK2). Since then, we have been used to the Selec-Terrain 4×4 System located in the center console with its five selector settings that allow us to calibrate the Jeep Cherokee with four-wheel drive to “Auto,” “Snow,” “Sport,” “Sand/Mud” and “Rock” for the best performance on-road and off-road.

On the Jeep Cherokee center console, the Sports mode selector setting is located in the 2nd position after snow, and before sand/mud, it is positioned between the two off-road modes.

Being a veteran in the industry and having used the Jeep Cherokee for years, our inbox is full of DMs and letters from Jeep Cherokee owners asking what sports modes do in their Jeep Cherokee and when they should use sport mode. This article will highlight all the technical information you need about Jeep Cherokee Sport Mode, its purpose, and the appropriate circumstances for its use.

But first, let’s talk about the Jeep Cherokee Selec-Terrain 4×4 System’s five settings so that you may understand the difference between “Auto,” “Snow,” “Sport,” “Sand/Mud,” and “Rock.”

Jeep Cherokee Selec-Terrain 4×4 System.

Jeep Cherokee Selec-Terrain 4x4 System showing the Jeep Cherokee Sports Mode, Snow Mode and Sand/Mud Mode

The Jeep Cherokee Selec-Terrain 4×4 System has five settings; “Auto,” “Snow,” “Sport,” “Sand/Mud,” and “Rock.” You can see which Selec-Terrain 4×4 System is selected using the Jeep Cherokee Selec-Terrain 4×4 System selector.

Jeep Cherokee Auto Mode.

Jeep Cherokee Auto Mode is mostly used when you want your Jeep Cherokee to adapt to any driving conditions that you want optimal traction and steering to improve on the handling of your Jeep Cherokee, the Jeep Cherokee, while in auto mode, can engage the 4×4 AWD system when it necessary, to improve your Jeep Cherokee efficiency, this helps in fuel economy and also reduces emissions.

Jeep Cherokee Snow Mode.

Jeep Cherokee Snow Mode is best suited when driving on slippery roads like snow, sleet, and ice. Jeep Cherokee Snow Mode will adjust your Jeep’s engine, suspension, and steering systems for maximum traction and handling. When the Jeep Cherokee is in snow mode, the engine’s power is variably distributed between your Jeeps Cherokee’s front and rear axles, and its torque is split, giving more power (60%) to the front wheels and less power (40%) to the rear wheels.

Jeep Cherokee Sports Mode.

Our main focus in this article is snow mode, so we will spend some time explaining the Jeep Cherokee Sports Mode. When activated, Jeep Cherokee snow mode is supposed to provide an aggressive shit pattern from your Jeep Cherokee transmission that gives you a sportier driving experience when it comes to the torque distributed to the wheels in sports mode, it’s the opposite of snow mode, and Jeep Cherokee snow mode will provide 40% of the torque to the front wheels and 60% to the rear wheels.

Its also important to note that other parts of your Jeep Cherokee will be adjusted to sports modes, such as the engine, transmission, and steering system; this is to allow your Jeep Cherokee to provide improved throttle response and modified transmission shift points, all to improve acceleration, throttle response, and control of your Jeep Cherokee which the greater amount of steering feel can feel.

Its also important to note that your Jeep Cherokee is equipped with Quadra-Lift Air Suspension that employs air springs, and when your Jeep is in sports mode, they will adjust your Jeep Cherokee rides height across a span of 4.1 inches (104 mm), suspension settings and also the traction control to improve the performance and handling of your Jeep Cherokee.

Since Jeep Cherokee sports mode settings are the opposite of Jeep Cherokee snow mode, we don’t recommend activation when driving in wet conditions or at high speeds due to twitchy handling and increased fuel consumption; according to our experience when in sports mode, our Jeep Cherokee averages 18 gallons per mile, while in auto mode it averages MPG 21 city 28 highway.

Customizing/Tuning Jeep Cherokee Sports Mode.

For Jeep Cherokee owners who would love to tune their Jeep Cherokee sports mode, whether you use your Jeep for off-roading or Overlanding, we have great news for you; since we are experienced in that field and have tuned our Jeep Cherokee, we will let you know how we did it, and the reasons why tuning your Jeeps sports mode is ideal than using your Jeeps factory settings.

To tune our Jeep Cherokee sports mode, we use a throttle calibrator that provides more throttle response and performance; the tuning device we use is called Pedal Commander. We installed the pedal commander on our Jeep Cherokee to eliminate the response delays in the electronic accelerator pedal, allowing your Jeep Cherokee engine to respond faster and improve its acceleration.

The Pedal commander has two sports mode customization; Sports and Sports+, the other modes are Eco and City modes bringing the control modes to four; each mode has eight sensitivity levels and allows up to 36 customization parameters, all designed to improve your Jeep Cherokee improve its performance and handling.

The pedal commander is user-friendly and easy to use with its plug-and-play design; you can also control it with the Pedal Commander app, which can be downloaded on the Google Play store and Apple Store.

As we said, the Pedal Commander is a plug-and-play device; we haven’t mentioned that it utilizes tour Jeep Cherokee OEM factory plugs for seamless integration and will reduce the disadvantages associated with the electronic gad pedals of the Jeep Cherokee.

To finalize the tuning of your Jeep Grand Cherokee sports mode, we would like you to know that we recommend the Pedal Commander because it is certified by CE and TUV, which means that installing it will not void your Jeep factory warranty.

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PEDAL COMMANDER for Jeep Cherokee

Pedal Commander transforms your Jeep Cherokee Sport Mode with improved throttle response, customizable settings, and a safe, warranty-friendly performance upgrade.

Charging Speed (7/10)
Accuracy (9/10)
Efficiency (8/10)
Bluetooth Reliability (6/10)
Customer Satisfaction (9/10)
Reasons to Buy
  • Enhanced Jeep Performance
  • Increased Fuel Efficiency
  • Easy Installation and Customization
Reasons to Avoid
  • Potential Confusion with Jeep ECO mode
  • Risk of User errors or mistakes
  • Mixed opinions on Bluetooth usage
PEDAL COMMANDER for Jeep Cherokee

Unlock Your Jeep Cherokee True Potential

How We Picked and Tested

We installed the Jeep Cherokee Pedal Commander and tested it for a month in both on road and off-road terrains, we focused on evaluations highlight its safety, positive performance impact, and customer satisfaction based on its throttle calibration features.

Jeep Cherokee Sand/Mud Mode.

We also have experience using Jeep Cherokee Sand/Mud Mode since we use our Jeep Cherokee for off-roading and overlanding, and we often come across loose or viscous terrains, we use Jeep Cherokee Sand/Mud Mode to maximize the ability of the torque transfer case to provide variable torque up to 100% to the rear wheels.

When should I use Sport Mode?

When you activate your Jeep Cherokee sport mode, your Jeeps AWD will remain activated; this also happens when you activate other selec-terrain modes other than auto mode; triggers such as dynamic driving behaviors, the environmental conditions, and terrain, your selected selec-terrain mode can be used to connect your Jeeps AWD system, according to our experience and consultation with Jeep engineers there are more than 20 triggers that are used to determine when your Jeep Cherokee AWD will be activated.

Since your Jeep Cherokee can determine when your AWD is activated, and one of the triggers is your selec-terrain mode activated, we recommend activating sports mode to let your Jeep know that you need an improved performance of the engine, transmission, steering, and also handling capabilities especially when driving at a brisk pace on a twisty mountain road or going flat out on paved roads.

What does sport mode do in a Jeep Cherokee?

As we have learned, your Jeeps sports mode is used to sharpen how your Jeep Cherokee can respond to your inputs by letting your Jeep Cherokee ECU adjust your Jeeps parts such as engine, throttle sensitivity, and transmission shift points (on automatic Jeep Cherokee); however, there are a lot of things that happen when you activate your Jeep Cherokee to sports mode:

Jeep Cherokee Sport Mode Enhances Acceleration and Gear Shifts

As we have said, sports mode provides better acceleration as it allows you to alter the shift range to provide improved acceleration of your Jeep Cherokee; we have also said that the power split is 40% front and 60% rear power split; we will also add that the gears shifts are also held longer before upshifting, and we have been able to top up to 6th gear, we use the sports mode enhanced acceleration and gear shifts enhancement that comes in handy especially when driving around town also when entering freeways where enhanced acceleration is needed.

Increased Engine Braking and Rougher Ride

Something else we would like to mention is that we have noted increased engine brakes and rough rides compared to driving in auto mode; this is because the Jeep Cherokee in sports mode will downshift and hold t gears for longer before upshifting, and this will result in a rough ride experience, we have also noted that when we release the gas pedal since the Jeep Cherokee will not upshift immediately, it will result to engine breaking to some extent.

Rapid Transmission Changes and Rear-Wheel Bias

When driving on-road, we have noted that a Jeep Cherokee with sports mode activated will provide a sportier driving experience since the Jeep Cherokee transmission can change gears more rapidly; when engaged, the Jeep Cherokee will operate with more of rear wheel drive.

Unfortunately, due to power distribution being 60% on the rear and 40% on the front of your Jeep Cherokee (rear-wheel bias), your Jeep Cherokee will experience more tire wear in the rear compared to the front. We recommend frequent Jeep tire rotations and visual inspection compared to Jeepers, who use mainly auto modes.

Decreased Gas Mileage and Shift Behavior

On our Jeep Cherokee, we average 18 miles per gallon when using sports mode, compared to MPG 21 city 28 highway when in auto mode; this is because the transmission ceases shifting at normal speeds and the gear remains in the 5th gear that will maintain the RPM our Jeep Cherokee average around 2400 RPM at these conditions, while this scenario improved performance and handling of your Jeep Cherokee in winding and mountain roads it negatively affects your Jeep Cherokee fuel economy.

Lowered Suspension and Handling Advantages

Activating sports mode also lowers your Jeep Cherokee suspensions to an aero height; lowering your Jeeps Cherokee’s center of gravity will affect the ground clearance of your Jeep Cherokee, which in turn will improve the handling of your Jeep on the road, such as in sportier turns but negatively affect your off-road handling and performance.

It’s also worth noting that activating the sports mode will alter the primary stability control and disable traction control, so we don’t recommend activating it on wet roads. You should use snow mode in such cases, however when on-road, the sports mode will provide greater driving satisfaction, especially if you are driving early models of the Jeep Cherokee with fewer transmission gears; this is because when in sports mode, the suspension will remain unaffected unless your Jeep Cherokee has Quadra-Lift (QL).

Reduced Transfer Case Wear and Variable Torque Distribution

When you activate sports mode on your Jeep Cherokee, your Jeep Cherokee clutches have less engagement and firmer shifts, which are generally easier on your Jeep Cherokee transmission due to reduced clutch slippage, this causes reduced transfer case wear that will reduce your maintenance and service cost over time.

Talking about the Jeep Cherokee clutch in sports mode, there is a torque transfer device (TTD) located in the rear drive module (RDM) of your Jeep Cherokee that controls the torque distribution of your Jeep; the torque transfer device is a wet clutch controlled by your Jeep Cherokee computer allowing slippage or pulsing of your Jeep Cherokee clutch allowing for a variance of your Jeep Cherokee torque on certain triggers such driving behavior or environmental conditions.

The variable torque distribution is triggered when in sports mode, and the Jeep Cherokee can split its torque variably influenced by factors such as the Jeep Cherokee throttle position, steering angle, the Jeeps dynamics, and also drivers influenced factors such as the selected Selec-Terrain 4×4 System mode.

Locking Front and Rear Axles in ADII

Since 2014 Jeep has introduced Selec-Terrain 4×4 System in Jeep Cherokee with Active Drive I or Active Drive II systems; our experience with sports mode on Jeep Cherokees with Active Drive I or Active Drive II systems is different, when it comes to Jeep Cherokee with Active Drive II systems sports mode locks the front and rear axles which results in a 50/50 torque split, this means that Jeep Cherokee with Active Drive II systems in sports mode can offer more enhanced traction and stability control especially when off-roading.


We have discussed the technicalities, capabilities, and limitations of using Sports mode on your Jeep Cherokee, we recommend using sports mode and if you are into off-roading and overlanding, tuning your Jeeps using a pedal commander is recommended, as both stock and tuned Jeep Cherokees with Selec-Terrain 4×4 System offer a thrilling experience when sports mode is activated offering enhanced acceleration, throttle response and control, and handling capabilities, due to increased power and traction.

We don’t recommend using sports mode on wet roads; instead, we recommend using snow mode in such cases as the settings configurations are different, and sports mode is not ideal for wet conditions. Finally, we recommend toggling between modes on a Jeep Cherokee Selec-Terrain 4×4 System when driving at lower speeds or pulling over for safety reasons.

Last update on 2024-04-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

James Ndungu - Jeep Runner Writer

Author: James Ndungu

James is an Automotive Service Writer, I4WDA certified trainer, Jeep enthusiast, and shop owner specializing in Jeep parts, accessories, and Electric Vehicles Charging Station Installation services. His interest and first-hand experience in electric vehicle charging technology motivated him to achieve certification through the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP).

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