2021 Highlander vs. Grand Cherokee Comparison

What makes a great competitor in any head-to-head battle is the promise that you're getting what you paid for — and more. With tons of standard features, the Highlander surely delivers on this promise. Although the Grand Cherokee is a well-known name, you'll notice it doesn't offer as much at the base level.

For starters, you have better EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings with the Highlander, plus an available hybrid engine option to help take you even farther on just one tank of gas. The Grand Cherokee doesn't offer a hybrid engine and has lower EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings across all engine options.

The Grand Cherokee also doesn't have as many seating options or as much space as the Highlander. With the Highlander you can get seating for up to eight.

Find out what else the Highlander and Grand Cherokee bring to the table that encompasses what you're looking for in your next SUV.

Published Date: 10/25/2021

2021 Highlander driving fast past a blurred city skyline

Safety

  • The base model Highlander has more standard safety features than the base model Grand Cherokee.
  • The 2021 Highlander FWD received a higher Overall Safety Rating by the NHTSA than the Grand Cherokee 2WD.
  • Both vehicles have features to help you when the weather turns sour or roads get rough.

If safety is something you're after, you'll be happy to know that these SUVs provide ample active safety features. However, only one comes with more at the base level.

Standard Safety Features

The Highlander has certain driver-assistive technology standard. Drivers get a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert (LDA w/SA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), and Road Sign Assist (RSA) with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ (TSS 2.5+). On the other hand, the Grand Cherokee requires the addition of the available Protech II package to compare. Features such as Advanced Brake-Assist, Automatic High-Beam Headlamp-Control, Full-Speed Forward-Collision Warning Plus, Lane-Departure Warning Plus will cost $875 extra with the Grand Cherokee Laredo E. Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop is also included in the Protech II Package starting on the Grand Cherokee Limited but will cost you even more. This package is $1,995.

Both of these vehicles place importance on providing features to help with driving in inclement weather and bumpy terrain. The Grand Cherokee has standard Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control. With the Highlander you get the Star Safety System™, which has Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop Technology® (SST). Smart Stop Technology® (SST) can help by cutting engine power when both the brake and gas pedal are depressed simultaneously.

Before you choose one of these SUVs, take into consideration that the 2021 Highlander FWD received a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating by the NHTSA, while the 2021 Grand Cherokee 2WD received a 4-Star Overall Safety rating.

White 2021 Highlander towing a boat down a scenic road

Performance

  • The Toyota Highlander has Snow Mode for winter driving.
  • The Highlander also has better EPA-estimated gas mileage ratings than the Grand Cherokee.
  • An Independent MacPherson strut front suspension with stabilizer bar is standard on the Highlander while the comparable Normal Duty Suspension is extra on the Grand Cherokee.

For an SUV, high-level performance features are expected. The Highlander and Grand Cherokee exceed these expectations.

Drive Modes

For enhanced driving, the Highlander has standard Snow Mode + Drive Mode Select (ECO, Normal, Sport). The Grand Cherokee does have an Eco Mode Button but doesn’t mention the option for Snow or Sport mode at the base level.

Highlander comes standard with Independent MacPherson strut front suspension with stabilizer bar and trailing-wishbone suspension, for a smoother drive. The Grand Cherokee comes standard with ECO Suspension I and Normal Duty Suspension is available with the Trailer-Tow Group IV for an additional $995.

Even considering the above, the Highlander still outperforms the Grand Cherokee in terms of EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings. Plus, the Highlander has several hybrid models available to help boost the gas savings. The Highlander L FWD has an EPA-estimated rating of up to 21/29/24 (city/highway/combined) MPG, while the Grand Cherokee Laredo L 4x2 has an EPA-estimated 19/26/22 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. Looking at the Highlander hybrid models, those that have FWD have an EPA-estimated rating of up to 36/35/36 (city/highway/combined) MPG.

Man interacting with the Highlander's interior infotainment touchscreen

Interior

  • The Highlander has more seating than the Grand Cherokee.
  • If you want more cargo volume, the Highlander has you covered.
  • You get more USB outlets standard in the Highlander.

Most customers pick an SUV when they need extra space. Toyota has made it a priority to have ample room and versatile seating options in the Highlander.

Seating

With standard seating for up to eight passengers, the Highlander L, LE, and Hybrid LE are the ideal family vehicles. The gas and hybrid Highlander XLE and Limited have standard seating for seven and available seating for up to eight. The Grand Cherokee can only seat up to 5 passengers, no matter the trim.

Another standard in the Highlander is comfort. You get three-zone automatic climate control with air filter, a separate second-row control panel, individual temperature settings for the driver, front passenger, and rear-seat passengers, and standard second- and third-row vents. Comparatively, the Grand Cherokee has Air Conditioning ATC w/Dual Zone Control standard across all models.

For more room in the back, the Highlander has a cargo volume of 84.3/48.4/16.0 behind the front/second-row/third-row seats. Looking at the Grand Cherokee, you get a maximum interior cargo volume of 68.3 (cu.ft.).

Additionally, the Highlander has more ways to plug-in. The Highlander has five USB ports standard. With the Grand Cherokee's Media Hub, you get two USB ports and one AUX port. You'd need to get the Grand Cherokee Limited or higher to utilize the USB ports that come with the Media Hub plus the Dual Remote USB Port.

Isolated blue 2021 Highlander

Conclusion: Highlander vs. Grand Cherokee

  • The base model Highlander has more active safety features than the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
  • If you're wanting more seating options, the Highlander is for you.
  • You get more ways to charge multiple devices with the Highlander.

We've laid out the facts for you. When it comes down to choosing between the 2021 Toyota Highlander and 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Highlander has more to offer in multiple feature categories.

For one, all Highlanders come with the extensive Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ (TSS 2.5+) suite of active safety features. Similar features in the Grand Cherokee Laredo E require the purchase of the Protech II Package.

You also get more comfort and convenience features in the Highlander. No matter the model you choose, the Highlander has seating for at least seven passengers, a bigger cargo volume, and more standard USB ports than the Grand Cherokee.

While the final decision is up to you, for those who want to get the most out of their ride, the Highlander is our pick.