2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs 2020 Toyota 4Runner – Costa Mesa, CA

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  • 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee

    A dark grey 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee is angled left.

    Starting at

    $34,000

    2020 Toyota 4Runner

    A dark grey 2020 Toyota 4Runner is angled right.

    Starting at

    $36,120

    707Max Horsepower (HP)270
    645Max Torque (lb-ft)278
    7,200Max Towing Capacity (lbs)5,000

    Today, most SUVs have lost their original off-road sporting nature and have become comfortable road vehicles for the average driver. However, there still remain some SUVs built for the hardcore adventurer, and there is a battle for the top spot: 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs 2020 Toyota 4Runner. Typically, these two SUVs might not be considered direct competitors. After all, the 4Runner is a three-row SUV with 88 cu.ft. of cargo space, while the Grand Cherokee is a two-row SUV with 68 cu.ft. of cargo space. However, despite these differences in dimensions, they are two of the most capable off-road SUVs on the market.

    With their rugged construction and effective off-road technologies, both the Grand Cherokee and the 4Runner are the real deal. But while both of these iconic vehicles have their fans, a detailed comparison will reveal that the American SUV offers many advantages over the aging Japanese vehicle. From far more powerful and more efficient engine options to a wider variety of more sophisticated 4x4 drive systems to additional features and technology for greater comfort and safety both on and off the road, the Jeep Grand Cherokee remains the king of serious SUVs.

  • Performance

    A grey 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee is driving past the ocean in the rain near Costa Mesa, CA.

    The heart of any vehicle is its engine, especially a vehicle that will need the reliability and power to challenge the most difficult trails. When you take a quick peek at the engines available in the Grand Cherokee and the one available for the 4Runner, it becomes quickly evident, which is better. So, let's take that peek.

    Grand Cherokee Choices

    The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a variety of capable engines to choose from. The base engine is a 3.6L Pentastar V6 delivering 293 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This Pentastar comes with a modern eight-speed automatic transmission that helps it achieve 21 MPG combined with 19 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway. Not only will this fuel economy save you money at the gas station, but it will also allow you to go far on off-road adventures where there are no gas stations to top you off.

    If you choose the Trailhawk trim, then the Grand Cherokee has the option of a 5.7L HEMI V8 engine producing 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. Also paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, this far more powerful engine achieves 17 MPG combined. And if even that is not enough, then the top trims offer even more power. The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT comes with a 6.4L V8 HEMI delivering 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, while the Trackhawk trim is powered by a supercharged 6.2L V8 HEMI with 707 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque. Any of these mighty engines will allow a Grand Cherokee to conquer tasks that a 4Runner could never hope to attempt.

    Engine of the 4Runner

    In comparison, the 2020 Toyota 4Runner only offers a single engine option. This is a 4.0L V6 with 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque. And while it is a solid engine, the 1GR-FE that powers the 4Runner was initially introduced with the fourth generation of the vehicle all the way back in 2003, meaning, this is an outdated engine. Even more important to notice than the fact that the engine is antiquated, is the lack of power in comparison to its competitor. This single-engine does not even offer the same amount of horsepower that is provided in the lowest of four Grand Cherokee engines, and the Grand Cherokee's top engine provides more than 2.5 times the horsepower of the 4Runner's. Even further, the current 4Runner also continues to make use of a dated five-speed automatic transmission, although it does have a manual shift mode.

  • Off-Road Capability

    A silver 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee is crossing a river while off-roading after winning the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs 2020 Toyota 4Runner comparison.

    Body Construction

    Both of these SUVs are highly capable off-road vehicles. However, a close comparison of the features of the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the 2020 Toyota 4Runner will reveal some significant differences. The largest but possibly least significant of these differences is their construction. The 4Runner is a traditional body on frame vehicle while the Grand Cherokee uses a unibody design. Many will argue that this automatically makes the 4Runner the superior vehicle, but the truth is that you will notice little difference between the two construction methods.

    For instance, even though body-on-frame construction is supposed to help with hauling and towing, the 4Runner has a max tow rating of only 5,000 pounds while the Grand Cherokee can pull up to 7,200 pounds. What is more important than construction methods are performance features, and here the Grand Cherokee has a clear advantage.

    More About 4Runner Off-Roading

    Both vehicles are available in either 2x4 or 4x4 configurations. In 2x4, they both have rear-wheel drive instead of the now more common front-wheel drive, but 4x4 is still by far the more capable system. However, not all 4x4 setups are the same, and both of these SUVs actually offer several different 4x4 systems. Most trims of the 2020 4Runner come with a traditional part-time 4x4 setup that includes a manual locking center differential and a two-speed transfer case. However, the front and rear differentials are open, and in the worst situations, the 4Runner relies on the A-TRAC traction control system to keep all four wheels spinning.

    The TRD Off-Road trim improves on this basic system by adding an electronic locking rear differential. The Limited and Nightshade trims come with a different full-time 4x4 system with a Torsen limited-slip center differential, this gives them somewhat less control off-road, but it can be used on high-traction surfaces at high speeds for better on-road performance.

    Jeep: Built for Off-Roading

    The basic 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes with the Quadra-Trac I full-time 4x4 system. This system always sends power to the front and rear axles and can be used on all surfaces and speeds. However, it uses three open differentials and relies on a Brake Lock Differential (traction control) to keep the vehicle moving in adverse conditions. The high-performance SRT and Trackhawk trims have a variant of this system called Quadra-Trac Active on Demand that adds a limited-slip rear differential for sportier handling.

    The Quadra-Trac II 4x4 system found on higher trims of the Grand Cherokee takes the basic Quadra-Trac system and adds a two-speed transfer case with a locking center differential. This not only gives it the same off-road performance as the 4Runner’s standard 4x4 system, but it also allows you to stay in 4x4 on the road at high speeds, which is a valuable capability for bad weather driving. Finally, the top Quadra-Drive II system adds a limited-slip rear differential that matches the off-road capability of the top 4Runner 4x4 system, but with greater flexibility.

  • Features

    The interior of a 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee is shown.

    Features for Convenience

    Despite its lower starting price, the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee offers a more feature-rich interior than the 2020 Toyota 4Runner. All trims of the Grand Cherokee come standard with numerous convenience features such as keyless entry and push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a fold-flat passenger’s seat to accommodate large cargo. In contrast, the lower trims of the 4Runner have traditional remote power locks and key ignition as well as manual heat and air conditioning.

    When options are considered, this gap in comfort only widens. Fully equipped, the 2020 Grand Cherokee sports further luxury features unavailable on the 4Runner, including a large panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, and a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system. Even a comparison of the top infotainment systems gives the edge to the Grand Cherokee when its 8.4” touch screen and nineteen-speaker sound system are compared to the 8” touch screen and fifteen-speaker audio system of the 4Runner.

    Safety Assist Features

    When it comes to comparing the advanced driver-assist safety equipment of the two SUVs, the Grand Cherokee again has the more capable technology. Both vehicles have standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warnings, and adaptive cruise control. However, the Grand Cherokee also comes with a standard rear cross-traffic alert system to help you safely back out of parking spaces or driveways.

    Another advantage of the Jeep is its more capable lane-keep assist system that will automatically provide corrective steering instead of the simple lane departure warning found on the 4Runner. Finally, the Grand Cherokee offers a sophisticated automatic parking system that can steer you into the tightest of parallel or perpendicular parking spaces. Overall, while the 2020 4Runner currently has more technology than any previous model year of the vehicle, it still lags behind the 2020 Grand Cherokee.

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