What makes a superior off-road vehicle? Ground clearance? Powerful engines? A reliable 4×4 system? All of the above? Well, that’s what we’re diving into as we consider which of two iconic vehicles reign supreme from a purely off-roading standpoint. Which two vehicles would this be? Today’s topic is the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee WL vs the 2022 Toyota 4Runner. The Grand Cherokee needs no introduction if you’re a Jeep fan of any kind, but for the uninformed, it’s a beastly and luxurious SUV that provides drivers with an off-roading experience coupled with some of the finest amenities that an SUV has to offer. The 4Runner is one of Toyota’s top offerings in the off-roading game, but it is beginning to get long in the tooth. The real question is, which vehicle provides off-roaders with that experience they’re looking for, and more importantly, how is it achieved?
The Grand Cherokee WL is the fifth generation of the SUV, and I’m sure that many of you are well familiar with its presence in the market since its release in the early 1990s. Fans of the Grand Cherokee were anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new generation with bated breath, as the prior generation, the WK2, had lasted on the market for an entire decade––which is almost as long as the current fifth-generation 4Runner has been on the market. So has the wait paid off, and can the redesigned Grand Cherokee live up to the model’s reputation and take on Toyota’s iconic, though aging, off-road SUV?
You Can’t Hide Performance
Before I even discuss off-roading with you, the most important factor of any vehicle is its powertrain. So if someone were seeking an off-roading vehicle, wouldn’t it be logical to look for a more powerful model? Between the Grand Cherokee WL and , Jeep gives drivers a pretty obvious choice thanks to vastly superior engines coupled with Jeep’s famous off-roading DNA. There’s only one word I need to say, and those familiar with how Jeep operates will instantly know what I mean. The word is HEMI.
For those who don’t know, the HEMI V8 engine is a legend that Jeep utilizes for impressive performance in its more premium models. In fact, the optional 5.7L HEMI in the Grand Cherokee WL is the same engine that powers the Ram 1500 and Dodge Challenger R/T, so it’s generally a better look for the Grand Cherokee than the 4Runner with its V6 engine. Comparatively, the Grand Cherokee has superior performance thanks to a larger engine.
Perhaps more impressively, the V6 engine that comes standard with the Grand Cherokee can outperform the sole 4Runner powertrain in horsepower and towing capabilities, not to mention significantly better fuel efficiency. With the Grand Cherokee’s 3.6L V6 engine, base models get 293 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, which is particularly impressive considering the larger 4.0L V6 inside of the 4Runner gets 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque. And although the Toyota has a higher torque output than the Jeep, it doesn’t outperform its towing, with 5,000 lbs against 6,200 lbs. This is where the 4Runner’s performance caps out, but the Grand Cherokee offers the aforementioned HEMI engine, and the difference is quite significant.
With the 5.7L HEMI V8 engine, the Grand Cherokee is vastly superior to the 4Runner thanks to its 357 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, along with a towing capacity of 7,200 lbs. All of this performance translates to a vehicle that has more than enough grunt for off-roading. In total, the Grand Cherokee provides drivers with about 32% more horsepower and 40% greater torque than the 4Runner, and for off-roading enthusiasts who enjoy towing, the Grand Cherokee gives them a 44% higher towing capacity. So if we’re talking from a pure performance standpoint, then the Grand Cherokee gives drivers what they want. However, off-roading is more than horsepower and torque, so let’s see which vehicle performs more favorably when given the task.
Real-World Off-Roading Features
Off-roading is the crowning achievement of Jeep vehicles, and the Grand Cherokee is no real exception. The 4Runner, on the other hand, is one of Toyota’s most off-roading-oriented vehicles, so they rightfully clash with one another. With that said, both vehicles offer a wealth of off-roading amenities that are designed to master the trails. An example of this is the 4×4 systems that drivers can include with either SUV. Off-roading with a 4×4 system is always preferable, and it’s not all doom and gloom either because both vehicles come standard with an RWD-based 4×4 system. This is much preferable to a FWD-based AWD system, especially when it comes down to off-roading or tough terrain traversal in general.
Both vehicles contain a handful of terrain modes that drivers can select between on the fly. However, the Grand Cherokee offers up an additional mode that isn’t found on the 4Runner, one that’s perhaps most important depending on the climate that these drivers live in. The missing mode on the 4Runner is for snow, which is an odd omission, especially considering there are other modes that match the capability of the Grand Cherokee, such as rock, mud, sand, etc. Each vehicle also has a special suspension engineered for off-roading, designed for enhanced stability and to give the vehicle more bounce, allowing it to handle the rough terrain so common with off-road trails. For the 4Runner, this is called the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, and for the Grand Cherokee, this feature is called the Quadra-Lift Suspension.
Ground clearance is crucial for off-roading, as you likely know. For those who aren’t sure about its importance: there needs to be a respectable amount of room between the ground that you’re driving on and the undercarriage of your vehicle. Here, the Grand Cherokee pulls ahead again with an available 11.3 inches of ground clearance, albeit that’s at its most kitted-out form with Quadra-Lift suspension. But drivers who are more accustomed to the off-roading lifestyle know precisely what they’re looking for and are likely to opt for that upgrade. As for the 4Runner, its ground clearance caps out at 9.6 inches. Simply put, drivers who are off-roading with either of these two vehicles won’t really run into any problems on the trail, at least as far as the ground clearance is concerned, but the Grand Cherokee indisputably has more.
What Experience Are People Looking For?
Off-roaders are not an ignorant bunch––they know what they’re looking for. Even if they’re new to the world of off-roading, they put in the research to get as much info as they possibly can. And when you put all the specs side by side, it is clear that the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee WL comes out ahead of the 2022 Toyota Tacoma. It’s clear that making the off-roading experience more accessible while retaining its spot amongst the enthusiast market is what Jeep has been excelling at, especially in recent years. I haven’t met many Jeep owners who have anything negative to say about their Jeep, and the reason why they refuse to change brands is because of a true connection to their vehicles.