Toyota 4Runner versus Jeep Cherokee: Who takes the top bunk in this match-up?
CASEY WILLIAMS | Auto Reviewer
As two venerable SUVs are re-designed for 2014, their masters are locking in for a dramatic kick-down. In one corner: The Toyota 4Runner, a serious off-roader with urban manners. From another continent: The Jeep Cherokee, familiar in name, but nothing the same. The only question: “Which is butch and which is femme?” Swe think we can tell — can you?
Cherokee: Nose Job — have you seen that schnoz? Sometimes a little hook in the crook is endearing, and let’s hope that’s the case with the Cherokee.
4Runner: Liposuction — he’s getting a little rotund around the middle, in the face and across the ass … but I hear he can pack like a mule.
Cherokee: A Fiat 500L’s off-road ambitions. Much under the skin is shared, but the mission couldn’t be more different.
4Runner: Domesticating the vintage Land Cruiser’s safari skills. A modern guy, he enjoys a little shopping before nights on the prairie.
Cherokee: Uconnect, world’s easiest to use 8.4-in. touchscreen, conjures satellite radio, iPods, navigation, Pandora, iHeart Radio and voice-to-text messaging. Check the cool icons for easy navigation.
4Runner: Entune is not Apple, but learns quickly with mobile apps for Bing, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, iHeartRadio and Pandora. Real men will summon fuel guides, sports scores, stock prices, traffic and weather.
Cherokee: Hood stuffed with a 184 horsepower Tigershark four-cylinder or 271 horsepower Pentastar V6. A Tiger in the pants nets 31-MPG hwy; Pentastar power tows 4,500 lbs.
4Runner: It only swings one way with a 270 horsepower 4.0-liter V6. What you do with it is your business, dude.
Cherokee: A 9-speed automatic, built strong in Indiana.
4Runner: Five speeds are rough and tough, but not especially civil.
Cherokee: Takes trails with an active all-wheel-drive system that shifts torque on the fly, locks in the rear differential for serious muck, has five modes (auto, snow, sport, sand/mud, rock), and can be disconnected to maximize MPGs. She’s tough, sophisticated and efficient.
4Runner: Can be equipped with a three-mode 4×4 system that impresses with a locking center differential, crawl control for serious off-roading, Hill-start Assist Control and Downhill Assist Control. Disconnecting stabilizer bars improve wheel articulation. He’s tough and versatile.
Cherokee: Elegant like a Chrysler 300, easier to use than an iPad, and durable enough to have Rubicon mud scrubbed out the door.
4Runner: Looks like Optimus Prime transformed, co-habitated with an Abrams tank, and conceived a post-industrial luxury mountain cabin.
Cherokee: Flamboyant colors like Mango Tango, True Blue and Granite Crystal sound like drag names. Want black? Try Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl!
4Runner: Hues like Salsa Red, Magnetic Gray, Shoreline Blue and Classic Silver were apparently cribbed from grandma’s Camry. Want black? It’s called Black, you poof.
Cherokee: Tim McGraw — he’s rugged and ripped, and a country boy at heart, but bakes the cake with refined sensitivity.
4Runner: Martha Stewart — that tough broad can saw down trees with her wit, came out of prison knitting and could use this SUV let her topple mountains with her charm.
Cherokee: A product of Fiat and Chrysler, it was raised in Italy and America, but is off to see the world.
4Runner: A Japanese tough guy that feels at home in the U.S.A. is more likely to be seeing sights in San Antonio than Tokyo.
Cherokee: $23,000 is a good start; $30,000 is a better end. It’s a mighty-good romp for not much buck.
4Runner: $31,500 gets you in the door, but plan to dicker on stickers over $40,000. It’s burly and butch, but not cheap to reap.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 15, 2013.