- The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2020 Toyota 4Runner are both excellent midsize SUVs for off-roading.
- Both have aging designs but have received face lifts in recent years that help to keep them modern.
- The 4Runner has a more truck-like body-on-frame architecture, while the Grand Cherokee has a more car-like unibody construction.
If you’re looking for an SUV you can drive to work every day but can also do some serious off-roading with on the weekends, then there’s a good chance the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Toyota 4Runner have shown up on your shopping list. These are both midsize SUVs with real off-road chops when properly equipped, but they have some key differences that you should know about.
Let’s take a look at the differences and similarities between the Grand Cherokee and the 4Runner and see which is better.
These two SUVs are pretty similar in size, but the 4Runner is a little taller and narrower than the Grand Cherokee, which contributes to a boxier look. Aesthetically, it’s not hard to see that these both have an off-road emphasis with rugged looks and generous ground clearance. The Grand Cherokee has a lot of variety in its model range, with different trims looking quite different from each other — such as the sporty SRT, the rugged Trailhawk and the luxurious Summit models. The 4Runner is a little simpler and just looks more off-roady in the more off-road-oriented trims.
There’s a stark difference in interior design between these two SUVs. The Grand Cherokee has a much more modern interior than the rather dated 4Runner. Granted, the Toyota‘s interior is simple, practical and uses durable materials. The simplicity of its interior is a good thing to many off-road enthusiasts who want a no-nonsense SUV, but to most drivers looking for an SUV that will also see a lot of on-road duty, it’s just plain old on the inside. See the 2020 Toyota 4Runner models for sale near you
By contrast, the Grand Cherokee’s interior is modern and varies quite a bit, depending on which trim you go with. In every trim, the Jeep uses nice interior materials, and it can get quite fancy in the higher trims, with features such as Natura Plus leather seating, a dual-pane panoramic moonroof and some impressive technology we’ll get into later. See the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee models for sale near you
One thing that the 4Runner has over the Grand Cherokee is an optional third row of seats, but that third row is very tight and should really only be used for children. The Grand Cherokee does not have an available third row, and it’s a little tight on cargo space compared with the Toyota.
The Grand Cherokee has four engines available, and the 4Runner only has one.
2020 Toyota 4Runner Engine
- 4.0-liter V6; 270 horsepower, 278 lb-ft of torque; 17 mpg city/21 mpg highway
2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engines
- 3.6-liter V6; 295 hp, 260 lb-ft of torque; 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy
- 5.7-liter V8; 360 hp, 390 lb-ft of torque; 14 mpg city/22 mpg hwy
- 6.4-liter V8; 475 hp, 470 lb-ft of torque; 13 mpg city/19 mpg hwy
- 6.2-liter supercharged V8; 707 hp, 645 lb-ft of torque; 11 mpg city/17 mpg hwy
Obviously, the Jeep has a lot more variety under the hood than the Toyota. The V6 in the 4Runner is famous for its durability, but it makes less horsepower and returns much worse fuel economy than the standard V6 in the Grand Cherokee. If you want a V8 engine, you have three V8 options in the Jeep and none in the Toyota.
A big mechanical difference between these two is body-on-frame construction for the 4Runner and unibody architecture for the Grand Cherokee. That means that the 4Runner is more truck-like and the Grand Cherokee is more car-like. Some people like the more traditional construction of the 4Runner, but the Grand Cherokee still has serious off-road capabilities, despite its unibody construction.
Both SUVs have standard rear-wheel drive and, of course, are upgradable to four-wheel drive. The multiple 4WD systems available for both SUVs can also get pretty advanced. In the 4Runner, you can get either part-time 4WD with active traction control or full-time 4WD with a limited-slip differential that has a locking feature. In the Grand Cherokee, you can get Quadra-Drive I full-time 4WD or Quadra-Drive II, which adds an electronic limited-slip differential and a low range. On the higher-performance variants of the Grand Cherokee, the Quadra-Trac 4×4 system is designed to handle high levels of power and torque for optimal performance in any driving condition.
Which SUV is better at off-roading is debatable. It really depends on which trims we’re talking about and what level of technical off-roading you’re planning on doing. However, when it comes to on-road performance and comfort, the Jeep beats the Toyota by a long shot.
The 4Runner got a technological upgrade for 2020 that helps to make this aging SUV a little more modern. It now comes standard with an 8-in infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. You also get the Toyota Safety Sense-P suite of driver assistance technology, which includes forward-collision warning, pedestrian detection, forward automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights. These technologies have never been available in the 4Runner before 2020, so this is a big improvement.
For the first time, the 4Runner has more standard safety tech than the Grand Cherokee. The Jeep comes standard with blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, and rear cross-traffic alert, but it’s available with more features, such as forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, active parallel and perpendicular parking, rain-sensing windshield wipers, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning. All of this driver assistance tech is available on every trim of the Grand Cherokee. As for the infotainment system, you get your choice of two different versions of the Uconnect system. The standard system is a 7-in screen with two USB ports, and it’s upgradable to an 8.4-in screen that adds navigation and two extra USB ports. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard.
The Grand Cherokee has a more affordable starting price than the 4Runner but can get much more expensive on the high-end thanks to the high-performance, Hellcat-powered Trackhawk model. The Grand Cherokee has a starting MSRP of $32,045, and the 4Runner starts at $36,020. The most expensive 4Runner trims are around the $50,000 mark, while the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is way up in the mid-$80k range. If you’re looking for the most off-road capable Grand Cherokee, the Trailhawk trim starts at $44,955, making it similarly priced to the 4Runner TRD trims.
While we do appreciate the technological upgrade that the 4Runner gets for 2020, the Grand Cherokee is still a superior SUV in many ways. The Jeep has a much nicer interior, more engine options and better fuel economy — and it’s a more comfortable, road-friendly SUV without skimping on off-road capability. If you’re looking for a tool that’s just for off-roading, you’ll probably appreciate the 4Runner, but if you’re looking for a well-rounded SUV that you can take off-road, the Grand Cherokee is the winner. Find a Toyota 4Runner for sale or Find a Jeep Grand Cherokee for sale