Toyota RAV4 vs. Jeep Cherokee

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - April 25, 2019

Compact crossovers must wear many hats, and automakers are under increasing pressure to make them as comfortable on mountain adventures as they are on city commutes. The Toyota RAV4 and Jeep Cherokee offer two different takes on the formula. Both are around the same price range but bring distinct brand identities. Which is worth the buy?

See a side-by-side comparison of the RAV4 & Cherokee »

What the RAV4 Gets Right

The RAV4’s advantages start with its base powertrain, which is a robust 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It makes 203 horsepower to the base Cherokee’s 180, and it wins out on efficiency too (30 miles per gallon combined to the Jeep’s 25 mpg, according to the EPA).

If that weren’t enough, the RAV4 Hybrid makes sure that fuel economy is a slam dunk for the RAV4. The Hybrid will do 40 mpg combined, which is miles better than anything Jeep can offer.

Although both these cars have diminutive interiors, the RAV4 has substantially more cargo space. The RAV4’s 37.6 cubic feet behind the seats gives nearly 1.5 times the space of the Cherokee’s 25.8.

Finally, the RAV4 comes out on top for safety. The Cherokee had a few dodgy crash test results, and the RAV4 comes with standard safety tech, like automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, that the Cherokee can’t match.

What the Cherokee Gets Right

While the RAV4 may win the efficiency wars, the Cherokee wins out on brawn. Jeep offers both a 3.2-liter V6 and a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, both of which make around 270 hp – well more than even the hybrid RAV4.

With the turbo-four engine, the Cherokee will hustle from zero to 60 mph in seven seconds, which is quite good for the class. Towing isn’t usually a crossover duty, but should you need to, the Cherokee can tow up to 4,500 pounds.

Finally, the Cherokee brings Jeep’s considerable off-road pedigree to the table. The regular Cherokee is capable enough, but Jeep also makes a Trailhawk model with extra ground clearance, improved approach and departure angles, and skid plates.

A Problem of Personality

While both these cars come wrapped in similar packages for similar prices, they’re different takes on the concept of versatility. The RAV4 offers typical Toyota virtues of practicality, safety, and efficiency, and it outclasses the Jeep by far on cargo space and fuel economy. On the other side, Jeep distinguishes itself with powerful engines and adventure-ready ruggedness. For those who stray far from the pavement, Jeep still leads the pack.

Our Verdict: Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is no slouch off-road itself, but more to the point, most consumers will get more use out of efficiency and practicality. The RAV4’s drastic cargo advantage is hard to ignore, and the extra safety features are welcome peace of mind for family buyers. Jeep will have its devotees, but the RAV4 is the better buy for most.

Take a closer look at the Toyota RAV4 »

Take a closer look at the Jeep Cherokee »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


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