2021 RAV4 vs. Cherokee Comparison

Small SUVs are fast becoming a popular option for drivers. They're spacious, have interior options for both entertainment and comfort, and come loaded with active safety features. The RAV4 and Cherokee are great examples of this.

Looking at these two side by side, the RAV4 gives you a lot at a lower starting price. The base model RAV4 LE FWD has a starting MSRP of $26,350, while the base model Cherokee Latitude FWD has a starting MSRP of $27,445.

A better price isn't the only advantage. The RAV4 has both gas and hybrid engine options. Choose one of the traditional gas models for savings at the pump, or stretch your gas mileage even further with the multiple hybrid engine configurations. The Cherokee’s EPA-estimated MPG ratings are lower than the RAV4s, and no hybrid engine option is available.

So, which adventure vehicle gives you the most fun? See how the RAV4 and Cherokee do in categories like safety, performance, and interior.

Published Date: 09/09/2021

Red RAV4 driving down a dirt road near the mountains

Safety

  • Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) is standard on all RAV4 models.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control w/Stop & Go and Auto High Beam Headlamp Control are not standard on the base Cherokee model. The comparable Toyota features come standard on the base model RAV4.
  • The 2021 RAV4 received higher safety ratings from the NHTSA than the Cherokee.

Though the "S" in SUV doesn't stand for safety, if it did, it would make perfect sense for the RAV4 and Cherokee. These two SUVs are packed with some of the latest safety technology.

Standard Active Safety Features

All models of the RAV4 come with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0). This suite of active safety features includes: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Automatic High Beams, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), and Road Sign Assist (RSA). The Jeep Cherokee base model Latitude has Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, Full Speed Forward Collision Warn Plus, and Lane Departure Warning Plus standard. For Adaptive Cruise Control w/Stop & Go and Auto High Beam Headlamp Control standard, you'd need the 2021 Cherokee Limited or High Altitude. All models also lack a comparable feature to the RAV4's Road Sign Assist (RSA).

No matter what model RAV4 you choose, you get eight airbags. They are: driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, driver's knee airbag, front passenger seat cushion airbag, and front and rear side curtain airbags. All models of the Cherokee have several airbags as well. They are: Advanced Multistage Front Air Bags, Driver Inflatable Knee-Bolster Airbag, Passenger Inflatable Knee-Bolster AirBag, Supplemental Front Seat Side Airbags, and Supplemental Side Curtain Front/Rear Air Bags.

Based on safety tests done by the NHTSA, the RAV4's safety systems outranked the Jeep Cherokee with a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating. The Cherokee received a 4-Star Overall Safety Rating comparatively.

Red RAV4 driving up a dirt road in the mountains

Performance

  • The RAV4 has better EPA-estimated mileage ratings than the Cherokee.
  • The RAV4 also has a hybrid model for even more gas savings, while the Cherokee lacks a hybrid model.
  • Feel the power of the 203 horsepower engine that comes standard with the RAV4.

Performance is another reason people love small SUVs. These adventure vehicles can take you where you want to go.

Mileage

Depending on what your drive entails, all RAV4s have Sport, Eco, Normal, and EV mode so you can switch it up.

When you're looking to optimize your fuel efficiency, simply select Eco or EV Mode in any RAV4. Plus, the RAV4 Hybrid has an EPA-estimated 41/38/40 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating and standard Electronic-AWD. The Jeep Cherokee lacks a hybrid model entirely.

Even the RAV4 gas models outperform the Cherokee. The base model RAV4 LE FWD has an EPA-estimated 27/35/30 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. If you go with the RAV4 LE AWD you'll still have an impressive EPA-estimated 27/34/30 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. Comparatively, the base model Cherokee Latitude with FWD has a lower EPA-estimated mileage of 22/31/26 (city/highway/combined). The ratings drop even further with the AWD model which has an EPA-estimated mileage of 21/29/24 (city/highway/combined).

The RAV4 is more than just a fuel-efficient SUV option. It has more horses in its stable as well. The base model RAV4 LE has 203 horsepower. The base model Cherokee Latitude only has 180 horsepower.

Interior of 2021 RAV4

Interior

  • The RAV4 keeps the tunes coming with standard Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, Amazon Alexa compatibility, and a SiriusXM® 3-month Platinum Plan trial subscription.
  • The RAV4 Limited model comes with more speakers than the Cherokee Limited and High Altitude models.
  • The RAV4 has a roomier interior for adventuring accessories, like luggage and camping gear.

It's often said that it's what on the inside that counts, and no vehicle makes this saying truer than the RAV4.

Multimedia

If you're looking for a musical hook-up, the RAV4 might be for you. All models have standard Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility, plus try the SiriusXM® 3-month Platinum Plan trial subscription. The base model Cherokee Latitude has Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility. For SiriusXM® Satellite Radio and Radio Service, Jeep drivers would need the Cherokee Latitude Plus or higher. All Cherokee models miss out on Amazon Alexa compatibility, too.

Both SUVs come standard with six speakers. However, if you opt for the RAV4 Limited, you'll get 11 JBL® speakers. The Premium Alpine® Speaker System standard in the Cherokee Limited and High Altitude has only 10 speakers max.

Whether you're hauling luggage to the airport or loading camping gear in the back, the RAV4 has more space to pack it in. The RAV4 has a cargo volume behind the front/rear seat of 69.8/37.6 cu. ft. Looking at the Cherokee you get a maximum interior cargo volume of 54.7 cu.ft. with the seats down and a regular interior cargo volume of 25.8 cu.ft.

Three 2021 RAV4 models parked in a row

Conclusion: RAV4 vs. Cherokee

  • The RAV4 base model comes with more active safety features than most Cherokee models.
  • You have better gas mileage ratings with the RAV4.
  • Choose between a hybrid and gas engine on most RAV4 models.

Even with all of the features laid out, it can be hard to pick between these two SUVs. They both offer all-around quality and similar features. What it really comes down to is the fact that you get more standard with the 2021 RAV4.

Going back to safety offerings, the RAV4 provides drivers with plenty. Plus, when put to the test, the RAV4 was rated more highly by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). As we saw, drivers will have to choose from the higher-end Cherokee models to get the same advanced safety features as the RAV4. Plus, when put to the test, the Cherokee received a less than perfect score from the NHTSA.

The RAV4 also has better standard EPA-MPG ratings on the gas and hybrid models. For a more fuel-efficient drive, the RAV4 Hybrid has an EPA-estimated 41/38/40 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. The Cherokee misses out on a hybrid engine option.

For a versatile, adventure-ready SUV with more standard features at a lower starting MSRP, the RAV4 is the way to go.