Toyota RAV4 vs. Jeep Cherokee

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - March 15, 2017

The Toyota RAV4 has long been a top-selling crossovers in the US, while the Jeep Cherokee only reappeared on the scene in 2014, after a 13-year hiatus, to revive Jeep's previously lackluster efforts in the important small CUV segment. Both models have a lot to offer buyers, but their strengths are vastly different. So, which is the better buy: the family-friendly RAV4 or the off-road- and towing-ready Cherokee? Continue reading to find out.

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

What the RAV4 Gets Right

The RAV4’s standard features include dual-zone climate control and 17-inch alloy wheels, which are both options on the Cherokee. City commuters will like the extra 2 miles per gallon city the RAV4 returns – 23 mpg city versus 21 mpg city in the Cherokee.

The Toyota’s quiet, smooth ride and more comfortable seats make long commutes more bearable. The RAV4 also crushes the Cherokee’s cargo hold with 38.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 73.4 cubic feet with the second row folded – the Cherokee only offers 24.6 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 58.9 cubes with the second row folded.

The Toyota RAV4 is an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus, while the Cherokee doesn’t come close due to its “Marginal” rating in the small-overlap test – a disappointing failure in such a new vehicle. What’s more, the Toyota Safety Sense package, which includes automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise, and automatic high beams, comes standard – these features are only available as options on the Cherokee’s higher trim levels.

What the Cherokee Gets Right

With its $24,790 base price (destination fees included), the Jeep Cherokee's starting price is down $1,000 on the RAV4. This gives buyers a little extra cash in their pockets or a little more room to add features. Also, the Cherokee’s base 2.4-liter engine with 184 horsepower outdoes the RAV4’s 176-hp engine. Additionally, there is an optional 271-hp 3.2-liter V6 available with the Cherokee, whereas the RAV4 has only the single four-cylinder engine.

Buyers looking to tow will appreciate the Cherokee’s 4,500-pound towing capacity with the V6 engine and the $795 Trailer Tow Group package. Even the Cherokee’s base 2,000-pound capacity bests the RAV4’s 1,500-pound capacity.

Then, there's the Cherokee's stellar off-road performance. The Cherokee is a capable off-roader in nearly every trim, but is also the only vehicle in this segment that offers a dedicated off-road performance package. The Trailhawk takes a generous amount the Wrangler's capability and instills it in a more family friendly package. All Toyota can muster is the upcoming RAV4 Adventure, due in 2018, a vehicle we feel safe in saying looks good, but won't be able to hold a candle to a Trailhawk.

Who’s the Jeep Cherokee For?

The Cherokee has select groups of buyers it caters to, like those who want the Trailhawk model’s off-road capabilities. Additionally, the Cherokee is one of the few small crossovers with an available V6 engine and a 4,500-pound towing capacity, making it an all-around excellent option for outdoorsy types.

Verdict: Toyota RAV4

While the Jeep Cherokee is great for select buyers, the RAV4 is the better overall family crossover, thanks to its smoother ride, more comfortable cabin, and extra cargo room compared to the Jeep.

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

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website