The long-anticipated redesign of the Jeep Grand Cherokee midsized SUV has turned the tables on a traditional rival, the Toyota 4Runner (both available to subscribers). The Jeep’s ride, quietness, and interior won it points, though it was hampered by its emergency handling. By contrast the 4Runner, redesigned for 2010, fell short on the road, (though it showed terrific off-road prowess), and scored at the bottom of the class.
The Grand Cherokee is the first new model that Chrysler has released post-bankruptcy, and it’s based on the next generation Mercedes-Benz ML. We found it to be a big improvement over the previous model, with refinement on par with models that cost a lot more. Though the Grand Cherokee is now more civilized, it is still capable off-road when it’s equipped with optional low-range gearing, which we did not get on our vehicle. But it has poor emergency handling, and it slid sideways in our avoidance maneuver. Reliability of the redesigned model is unknown.
The 4Runner, which still uses a body-on-frame design, is disappointing. While such a platform traditionally helps off-road and with towing, the Toyota doesn’t let you forget you’re driving a truck. Noise levels are high, the ride is unsettled, handling is clumsy, and interior fit and finish could use some improvement. The 4Runner also lacks features and amenities we would expect at its price. Reliability of its redesign has been average. But it scored too low for us to recommend it.
Our Grand Cherokee Laredo X cost $39,010 and our 4Runner SR5 cost $37,425.