Two legendary off-roading nameplates battle it out in this 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Toyota 4Runner comparison test to see which is the best value
When comparing the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Toyota 4Runner, there are a lot of similarities – at a glance. Both offer serious off-road capability, three rows of seating, and a standard V6 powertrain. But look deeper and you’ll find out that there are a lot more differences between them.
The latest Grand Cherokee is part of the 5th-generation model launched in 2022 with new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and 3-row “L” variants. Over at Toyota, the current 4Runner has been on sale in 5th-gen form since 2010, which is quite a long time in car years. While both of these SUVs aim to deliver day-to-day comfort with the option for serious trail adventures, only one hits the bullseye of that target as we look at below.
The base 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee engine is a 3.6L V6 rated for 293 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. There is a 357-horse 5.7L HEMI V8 available, but it costs about $4,000 extra and can only be fitted to the L variants in Overland trim or higher. With 375 hp and 470 torques, the PHEV powertrain is the most potent option.
Paring a turbocharged 2.0L inline-4 with a hybrid system, these “4xe” Grand Cherokees can go about 25 miles on electricity alone. An 8-speed automatic is standard across the 2023 Grand Cherokee lineup. It drives the rear wheels with the option for three different 4WD systems. Fuel economy ranges from 22 mpg combined for the V6 to 17 for the big V8 and 56 MPGe in 4xe setup.
Toyota keeps it simpler by fitting every 2023 4Runner with a 4.0L V6 making 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque. Like the Jeep, RWD is standard with the option for part-time or full-time 4WD. An old-school 5-speed automatic handles shifting duty, doing no favors for fuel economy as the 4Runner is rated for just 17 mpg combined regardless of drivetrain.
Though neither vehicle in this Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Toyota 4Runner comparison is being purchased for its speed, the Jeep with the PHEV or V8 power plant can hit 60 mph in under 6 seconds. Both SUVs need closer to 8 seconds to hit this mark with the V6 under the hood. As for on-road comfort, the 2023 Grand Cherokee handily bests the 4Runner.
This is largely due to the unibody construction and fully independent suspension of the Jeep. As it has for ages, the 4Runner rides on a pickup truck platform with body-on-frame construction and a solid rear axle. Normally, we would cite the benefits of towing and off-road prowess with this configuration. But the Grand Cherokee makes that point moot.
When it comes to towing, the 2023 Grand Cherokee can handle 6,000 pounds in 4xe trim, 6,200 pounds with the V6, or 7,200 pounds when powered by the HEMI. It’s part of the reason the Grand Cherokee is one of our favorite mid-size SUVs. The 4Runner tops out at 5,000 pounds in this department. But no one is going to argue that the 4Runner can’t handle itself off-road.
All 4Runners ride 9 inches off the ground with higher-spec models adding another 0.6 inches of clearance. Options include a locking rear differential, sway bars that automatically de-coupe for better articulation, and the hardcore TRD Pro model that is built for the trail.
But the Jeep can match or exceed all those metrics. Granted, base models have a bit less ground clearance, but the Trailhawk 4xe can fill up its air suspension to enable 11 inches of ground clearance and 24 inches of water fording. You can’t go wrong with either SUV when it comes to off-roading, but the Jeep beats the Toyota on paper.
Like the Grand Cherokee, the 4Runner comes with 2 rows of seats and the option for a 3rd row to seat as many as 7 passengers. And though Jeep offers this setup as part of a dedicated L model that is stretched 12 inches longer, in both cases the way-way back is best used as a jump seat – which may be ideal for those in the market for a family-friendly SUV.
On the legroom front, the Jeep handily outdoes the Toyota with 38 inches of 2nd-row space to 33 on the 4Runner. However, the 4Runner can swallow up to 90 cubic feet of cargo while the Grand Cherokee tops out at 71 cubes for 2-row models or 85 for the L variant.
But without doubt, a Grand Cherokee offers a higher level of cabin quality and comfort than a 4Runner. Both SUVs can be had with climatized front seats, leather upholstery, and dual-zone automatic climate control, but only the Jeep can be fitted with massaging front seats, Nappa leather, heated and ventilated second-row seats, a digital rearview mirror, real wood trim, and a panoramic moonroof.
Of course, all that Grand Cherokee luxury will cost you. Base Laredo models start at $41,000 for which you get LED headlights, a digital gauge cluster, an 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, forward collision mitigation, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a lane-keeping system, and adaptive cruise control.
The midpack Grand Cherokee Overland comes in at just under $60,000 and is fitted with 20-inch wheels, an adaptive air suspension, a hands-free liftgate, a 10-inch touchscreen, and a 9-speaker Alpine audio system. Semi-autonomous driving tech, an automated parking system, and a surround-view monitor are all optional.
Top-spec Summit Reserve models start at close to $71,000, a price tag that nets 21-inch rims, even fancier leather on the seats and dash, open-pore wood inlays, a 10-inch passenger-side touchscreen interface, a 19-speaker McIntosh stereo, and the option for a head-up display and a night vision camera. We go deeper into the details with our 2023 Grand Cherokee review.
A 4Runner SR5, the base model, also starts around $41,000 and more or less matches a Grand Cherokee Laredo on content, but the 4Runner struggles to keep up from there. The $49,000 40th Anniversary Special Edition has the coolest style of any model, from either automaker, hands down thanks to a tri-color stripe running the length of it and bronze rims.
In Limited trim, the 2023 4Runner hits $50,000 and comes with a pavement-tuned suspension, 20-inch wheels, a sunroof, perforated leather upholstery, a 15-speaker JBL audio system, and an SVM. And finished in Solar Octane, a $56,000 TRD Pro 4Runner certainly looks amazing, but this top-end model is only worthwhile for serious off-roaders. For more details, have a read through our 2023 4Runner review here.
Looking over the pros and cons of each vehicle in this 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Toyota 4Runner comparison, it’s the Jeep all day long. It has more powertrain options, better fuel economy, comparable off-road chops, and more towing capability. As for technology and creature comforts, the 4Runner isn’t even in the same league. Shall we go on?
Both SUVs have a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and Toyota includes 2 years of complimentary maintenance, but Jeep includes 3 years. As well, the NHTSA gives the 2023 Grand Cherokee a 5-star overall crash-test rating versus 4 stars for the 4Runner, which is driven in part by a higher rollover risk.
Without question, the 2023 Toyota 4Runner is a sweet four-wheeler that oozes old-school cool vibes, particularly in the glorious 40th Anniversary livery. And the 2023 Grand Cherokee can cost a whole lot more than the 4Runner, but even in the $40,000 to $60,000 range that the Toyota lives in, you get so much more with a Grand Cherokee.
Regardless of which path you choose, be sure to check out the certified pre-owned programs offered by Jeep and Toyota as you may be able to save some money with a lightly used model.