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|295 - 707||Horsepower (HP)||270|
|260 - 645||Torque (lb-ft)||278|
|7,200||Max Towing Capability (lbs)||5,000|
One of the most competitive vehicle categories is the wildly popular midsize SUV segment. It's here that legendary models - like the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs 2021 Toyota 4Runner - compete for market share. Buyers in this segment demand a full range of features and capabilities, which means it's all about innovation.
For 2021, both the Grand Cherokee and the 4Runner come out swinging. Competitively priced and offering a dynamic lineup of available trims, these category leaders are closely matched. The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee earns an early victory, though, with a more affordable starting MSRP of $34,645 (the 4Runner starts at $36,765, an over $2,000 difference),* but what about luxury? Towing capability?
Versatility is the name of the game for midsize SUV buyers, and because of that, automakers need to address all the biggest features, like capability and technology. It's not enough to offer the fastest or most luxurious model; instead, buyers want a range of choices and plenty of opportunities to customize the SUV they want. There are so many great options that the details matter.
That's why we're taking a closer look at these two favorites to see how or if one is a little better than the other. By better, we mean the best mix of value, features, and capability. When comparing two closely matched alternatives, you're able to see the differences hiding deep within each vehicle's specification sheet, and sometimes those differences matter a lot. Let's explore the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the 2021 Toyota 4Runner and compare what each of these dynamic midsize SUVs offers buyers. Which one will be the victor?
We'll start off by revealing that, when it comes to capability, there is absolutely no contest. The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee delivers a one-two punch to the 4Runner in just about every area. Let's begin with towing capacity: the Jeep Grand Cherokee offers a max towing capacity of 7,200 pounds, while the 4Runner sits at just 5,000 pounds. That's an over one-ton difference.
Further, the 4Runner is only available with an older 4.0-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 engine paired with an equally aging 5-speed automatic transmission. It's capable of making 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque, which is enough power to give it solid off-roading capability. In contrast, the Grand Cherokee is offered with four different powertrains, one of which delivers an incredible 707 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque. A modern 8-speed automatic transmission is also standard across the entire Grand Cherokee lineup.
Looking a little closer at the Grand Cherokee, the engine lineup starts with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine. Despite being smaller than the 4.0-liter V6 in the 4Runner, the Pentastar is more powerful and delivers 295 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. This is Jeep's most fuel-efficient offering, at 21 MPG combined. By contrast, the 4Runner's only engine offers a disappointing 17 MPG combined.
Interestingly, the Grand Cherokee's available 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine actually gets the same 17 MPG combined as the 4Runner's V6 while offering significantly more muscle - some 360 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, to be precise. The 5.7-liter HEMI also unlocks the Grand Cherokee's 7,200-pound maximum towing capacity, although even the Pentastar's 6,200 pounds beats the 4Runner.
While Jeep's Pentastar and 5.7-liter HEMI already outmatch the Toyota 4.0-liter V6, the Grand Cherokee is just getting warmed up. If you want the most capable midsize SUV on the market, then there are two more engine options available. A 6.4-liter SRT V8 engine delivers 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, and there is even a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine made specifically for the Trackhawk trim. In addition to its impressive horsepower and torque ratings, the supercharged Trackhawk engine boasts a 0-60 time of just 3.5 seconds.
The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee is offered in 12 different trims, and the 4Runner's not far behind, with nine different trims to choose from. The base 4Runner SR5 starts at $36,765 for the 4x2 and $38,640 for the 4x4.* The Grand Cherokee Laredo is Jeep's base trim, and it starts at $34,645 for the 4x2 powertrain and $36,645 for the 4x4 version.* Unlike the majority of the competition, both of these SUVs come standard with rear-wheel drive and have true part-time 4x4.
Both models offer several mid-range trims, with some focused more on off-roading. For the 4Runner, off-roaders should look to the TRD trim series, which includes the $40,730 TRD Off-Road, the $43,325 TRD Off-Road Premium, and the most expensive 4Runner trim of all, the $50,745 TRD Pro.* Every trim in the 4Runner lineup is available in 4x2 or 4x4, except the TRD trims, which are only offered in 4x4.
Like the 4Runner, every Grand Cherokee trim can be equipped with 4x4 capability, but the off-road-ready Trailhawk trim is only available in 4x4. The Trailhawk, starting at $46,070,* is specifically outfitted for extreme off-roading. This trim includes 18-inch all-terrain tires, front tow hooks, and Jeep's Quadra-Drive II 4x4 System, which includes a rear electronic limited-slip differential for added torque on uneven surfaces.
Toyota's high-end luxury-oriented 4Runner trim is the Limited. Priced at $45,670,* it includes dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-trimmed seats with heat and ventilation in the front, a power moonroof, and a 15-speaker JBL audio system. The similarly-equipped Grand Cherokee Overland is its closest equivalent, with a starting price tag of $47,410.*
However, Jeep also offers even more luxurious options such as the High Altitude and Summit. With features like a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated Laguna leather seats, and open-pore wood inlays, these high-end options overwhelm the 4Runner. And, of course, the Grand Cherokee also combines luxury and performance with the incredible Trackhawk trim.
Jeep's Uconnect operating system powers an 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Opt for the subscription-based SiriusXM Guardian program, and the functionality of Uconnect is accessible via smartphone. Start the vehicle, adjust climate control, and monitor vehicle diagnostics right from the app easily and intuitively.
Toyota infused the 4Runner with similar connectivity, starting with a slightly smaller 8-inch infotainment touchscreen that's also compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system can work with Amazon Alexa for sending voice-activated commands. The available Remote Connect app works in a similar manner to Jeep's Uconnect, offering remote start, vehicle location, and other functions.
Both vehicles offer standard driver-assist safety technology designed to protect occupants in a variety of real-world driving situations. Toyota SafetySense includes a lane departure alert, automatic high beams, and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection that alerts the driver if a collision is possible and automatically brakes if the driver doesn't react. Also included is Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which operates between 25-110 mph, automatically keeping a preset distance from the vehicle ahead.
All Grand Cherokee trims come standard with the ProTech I package, which includes blind spot monitoring with rear cross path detection. This useful system is designed to alert the driver when a vehicle enters your blind spot on the road or approaches you from the side when you are in reverse. ProTech I also includes ParkSense rear park assist and a ParkView back-up camera. The camera includes gridlines that help align the vehicle with parking spots, taking the guesswork out of the process.
ProTech II becomes standard on the Laredo trim and adds forward collision warning with active braking, advanced brake assist, LaneSense lane departure warning with a lane keeping assist feature, and automatic high beams. Standard on the High Altitude, Summit, SRT, and Trackhawk, a second ProTech II package adds full-speed forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, parallel and perpendicular park assist, and rain-sensing wipers. There is no question that the Grand Cherokee has what it takes to keep you safe.