Toyota 4Runner vs Jeep Grand Cherokee: Family 4x4 SUV Battle
Despite its advanced age, the Toyota 4Runner continues to endure as one of the best-selling and most beloved 4x4s on the market today.
There are plenty of reasons for this. It might be a 13-year-old platform with an even older powertrain, but the 4Runner continues to sell well because of its stout reputation for reliability, its rugged body-on-frame design—and also the fact that it remains “cool.”
Another reason the 4Runner continues to do well compared to other, much newer platforms is that being a mid-sized body-on-frame two-box SUV, it’s actually one of the only vehicles in its class.
In fact, it’s hard to find any vehicle that’s a direct competitor to the 4Runner. There’s the Jeep Wrangler, but it’s an open-top 4x4 with a vastly different look and a less practical layout.
The closest match then, might be a different Jeep, the Grand Cherokee. There are some big differences between these two, but they are both roomy family-friendly SUVs that can be highly capable off-road, and depending on trim they aren’t even that far off in price.
The biggest difference between the two SUVs is that the 4Runner is body-on-frame while the Grand Cherokee is a unibody design. But despite its less “rugged” underpinnings, the Grand Cherokee has long proven itself as an extremely capable off-roader.
From a performance and tech standpoint, the current Grand Cherokee blows the 4Runner out of the water, and it also gives buyers a much larger choice of options and equipment.
The 2023 Grand Cherokee can be had with three different powertrains: the 3.6L Pentastar V6, the 5.7L Hemi V8 or as 4xe plug-in hybrid which uses an electric-assisted 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder and can go about 26 miles on electric power alone.
In contrast, all 4Runners are powered by the same 4.0L naturally aspirated V6, which at 270 horsepower is outgunned even by the Grand Cherokee’s base V6. It also comes mated to one of the only five-speed automatics still being offered today, contrasted to the eight-speed in the Grand Cherokee.
However, what the 4Runner lacks in powertrain options and tech it should make up for with reliability. That’s not to say a Grand Cherokee will give you issues, but historically the 4Runner has been quite bulletproof, and Jeep products sometimes aren’t.
Luxury vs Raw Function
From a starting MSRP perspective, the 4Runner is the cheaper of the two with a 4x4 SR5 model coming in around $42,000 vs a Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 at around $44,000.
At the top of the line meanwhile, a flagship TRD Pro 4Runner has an MSRP around $55,000. A fully optioned Grand Cherokee 4xe Summit Reserve can have an MSRP as high as $85,690—which at that point is in a completely different class as any 4Runner.
Also note that 4Runner has historically had excellent resale value, while the same can’t always be said about the Grand Cherokee. This might not matter for many buyers, but if you aren’t planning to keep your vehicle long, the 4Runner should have a significant edge here.
While the average 4Runner buyer might be more into off-roading than the average Grand Cherokee buyer, the Grand Cherokee is still one of the most capable SUVs you can buy today.
The all-terrain capability of the 4Runner is well known and there’s a vast aftermarket to make it even better. The Grand Cherokee might not have the same cult following, but it’s every bit as capable, especially in its Trailhawk trim.
The Toyota is the winner on affordability and likely long-term reliability but at the expense of refinement, available creature comforts, fuel economy and the availability of modern drivetrains.
It will be interesting to see how this changes when the next generation 4Runner arrives sometime in the next year or so, but for now 4Runner vs Grand Cherokee is very much a battle of the old school vs the new school.
More From Driving Line
- Another alternative that 4Runner buyers may want to consider if the corporate cousin Lexus GX460? We break down the differences here.