Within the SUV bracket, there are tons of models competing for the top spot. And with such big shoes to fill, plenty of models struggle to live up to the challenge of being a well-rounded SUV. That said, there are two models that manage to provide a rather worthwhile driving experience, all while standing far ahead of the pack. And today, we are going to compare them in a head-to-head showdown: 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs 2020 Toyota Highlander. So, what can you expect from these two high achievers in the SUV market?
Well, there are many aspects and characteristics to consider, especially if you’re considering the possibility of driving home in one of these vehicles. From the powertrain to the level of configurations available, everything matters when comparing the Toyota Highlander and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. So we are going to go over all of the details, and potentially give you a well-versed perspective that allows you to make the choice that satisfies both you and your auto-related needs.
Judging a Book by Its Cover
The Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Toyota Highlander are two midsize SUVs that promise exceptional performance and practical utility all at reasonable prices. Although, the odds do lean a little bit in favor of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. With a starting price of $34,000, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is the better contender in cost. Meanwhile, the Toyota Highlander is marginally more expensive, at an MSRP of $34,600. While the Toyota Highlander may not be significantly higher in price than the Jeep Grand Cherokee, every dollar counts, especially when you begin considering moving up the line for a higher trim.
Speaking of trims, both the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Toyota Highlander come in a slew of different configurations. Starting with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, it offers up the Laredo, Altitude, North Edition, Upland, Limited, Limited X, Trailhawk, Overland, High Altitude, Summit, SRT, and Trackhawk trims. On the other hand, the Toyota Highlander offers a shorter list with the L, LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum trims. Seemingly, so far, the Jeep has more to offer. But let’s stop judging these vehicles by their covers and get into the nitty-gritty to see if the Grand Cherokee continues to be the best.
A Match-Up of Performance
The first area to explore when comparing these two SUVs is performance. SUVs are made to haul; to haul children, friends, trailers, and more. To haul both on and off the beaten path, these SUVs need some power beneath their hoods. And while both the Toyota Highlander and the Jeep Grand Cherokee have excellent engines, the Highlander falls a bit behind in this part of the competition.
The Toyota Highlander has only one engine, and it is a 3.5-liter V6 that is responsible for 295 hp and 263 lb-ft worth of torque. Saddled with an 8-speed automatic transmission and giving drivers the option of a front or all-wheel drivetrain, it’s fair to say that the Toyota Highlander starts strong. Unfortunately, this is as hefty as the Toyota Highlander gets in terms of power delivery. Sure, the 5,000-pound tow-rating is nice, but we would have liked to see a higher degree of power from the Toyota Highlander because these offerings do not come close to those of the Grand Cherokee.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee manages to provide a myriad of powertrain options. While base models use a 3.6-liter V6 and an 8-speed automatic transmission that’s responsible for 295 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, which is about equal to the Highlander, the Jeep’s performance quickly increases. Upgrade the engine, and you’ll find several options, including a 5.7-liter V8 engine that provides drivers with 360 hp, 390 lb-ft of torque, and a max towing capacity of 7,200 pounds to play with.
And don’t worry, the performance increases don’t stop there. The next offering is a 6.4-liter V8 engine that puts out 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. That is a lot of power, but surprisingly, the upgrades are still not over. If real power is what you are after, the Trackhawk trim tips the scales providing drivers with a 6.2-liter V8 that’s capable of 707 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque. With that much oomph at your disposal, you’ll be able to rocket from 0 to 60 in only 3.5-seconds. With all of this information, it is pretty apparent which SUV offers the best performance here. With more options and double the available power, the Jeep Grand Cherokee comes out on top.
A Peek Inside the Cabin
While performance often takes the front seat in SUV review, interior features often sit shotgun. The interior of the Jeep Grand Cherokee is much smaller than the Toyota Highlander, which is something to consider when shopping. However, that is about where the benefits of the Highlander end.
Those who want greater passenger capacity will automatically want to opt for the Toyota Highlander, as it’s the larger SUV and can seat 8. By default, cargo capacity is also superior in the Toyota Highlander, reaching max sizing of 84.3 cu.ft. Although, that’s not to say that the Grand Cherokee does not offer ample space. If you want something just a little smaller, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is likely the best fit. With space for five passengers and cargo capacity that reaches a substantial limit of 63 cu.ft., this SUV still has plenty of room inside. Sizing aside, both the Toyota Highlander and the Jeep Grand Cherokee provide comfy cloth upholstery and soft-touch plastics in base models. Upgrade either model, and you’ll find even higher-grade materials that’ll elevate your driving experience by leaps and bounds.
In terms of tech, the Toyota Highlander starts relatively strong, offering drivers an infotainment touch-screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility within base models. This main infotainment screen is joined alongside a three-zone climate control system, a power driver seat, and keyless ignition. Higher trims capitalize on this baseline offering, providing owners with features like a JBL powered speaker system, heated second-row seats, a panoramic roof, and even a surround-view camera system.
Although, that’s not to say that the Jeep Grand Cherokee comes underpowered in tech, not by any means. Base models of the Jeep Grand Cherokee get a touch-activated infotainment system that’s connective via Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. A leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard as well, as are power features, and a pair of USB charging ports. Higher trims, add on to this entry-level value, with features like a 115-volt power outlet, faux suede interior upholstery, remote start, a single-pane sunroof, and heated front seats. Overall, in terms of interior, it comes down to what drivers prefer themselves. However, the Jeep has more trims, therefore making it easier to customize the vehicle accordingly.
Which is Superior?
When it comes to picking between these two well-rounded SUVs, it all depends on what you’re hoping to get out of your driving experience. However, it is hard to deny the great performance benefits that the Jeep Grand Cherokee offers. With fewer options and half the power, the Toyota Highlander fell way behind in this race. So unless you need greater passenger capacity, the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the way to go.