Two of the most commonly seen vehicles in the backcountry are the Toyota 4Runner and the Jeep Wrangler. There’s no denying that both off-roaders have their pros and cons, but if you’re interested in going off the beaten path you have to decide what ride will get you there.
The Toyota 4Runner has become one of the most popular off-roading vehicles due to its high clearance and reliability. With traction control and all-season tires, the 4Runner competes well with off-road vehicles without trying too hard. Let’s dive into the 2019 Toyota 4Runner to see how it stacks up against one of the most well-known adventure vehicles, the Jeep Wrangler.
Fuel Economy: 17 city / 20 highway
Horsepower: 270 HP
Engine: V6 Engine
Turning Circle: 37.4 ft
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 89.7 cu. Ft.
Toyota offers several off-road worthy packages for the 4Runner including the Wilderness and Convenience Packages. The Wilderness Package provides a cargo tray, all-weather floor mats, and roof rack bars, while the Convenience upgrades to sport-fabric trimmed power seats, a powered moonroof, and 120V/400W power outlets.
The 4Runner may be luxurious, but it also gets the job done. With a maximum towing capacity of 5000 lbs. and maximum payload 1625 lbs., it outdoes the Jeep Wrangler in both categories. With an independent front suspension, a 4Runner’s tires can move independently of one another when trekking over rocks or rough terrain. Despite its towing advantages, the ground clearance is an inch shorter than the Wrangler.
The CRAWL Control System is one of the 4Runner’s best features. With steep mountain grades or rough-around-the-edges hills, the 4Runner can easily overcome some of the most difficult off-road obstacles, albeit slowly. Without the CRAWL Control System, the vehicle would struggle, as many a YouTube review has shown, but with it, you can have both the luxuries of an SUV and a rugged, hardy ATV.
Upgradable options include mudguards, high–performance LEDs, and running boards to keep your vehicle safe as you climb over rough terrain. The 4Runner also offers heated mirrors for drivers in harsh climates that still want to venture out into the ice and snow.
The Toyota 4Runner is known for how well it handles and drives, on the highway and beyond. Unlike most other off-road vehicles, like the Jeep, the 4Runner rides smoothly when driving over bumpy terrain. Though the capabilities on rough terrain are well above other SUVs in its class, you still may have the road-feel that comes with a high-centered vehicle.
The Jeep Wrangler has always been the top off-road vehicle for outdoor enthusiasts and rock crawlers. The Jeep was originally designed to take on some of the most difficult outdoor obstacles and terrains and as it develops through the decades it continues to deliver on those aspects.
Because Jeep has focused more on off-road capabilities, some of the other specs haven’t seen much improvement. Thankfully, in 2019, the Jeep Wrangler has made some advancements in some of the categories that drivers have been concerned about over the years. Let’s check it out.
Fuel Economy: 17 city / 23 highway
Horsepower: 285 HP
Engine: V6 Engine
Turning Circle: 39.4 ft
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 72.4 cu. Ft.
To start, the Jeep Wrangler has a maximum towing capacity of 3500 lbs. and 1000 lbs. maximum payload. Though this doesn’t beat the 4Runner, it still allows you to tow some gear or a small camper behind you. With a maximum ground clearance of 10.8 inches, it sits higher than its Toyota counterpart, which is ideal for rock climbing or maneuvering over obstacles. No matter what trimline you choose, 4-wheel drive comes standard, too.
The Wrangler also falls short in storage capacity. The seats inside the Wrangler don’t fold down flat, like other vehicles in its class. The 2019 Wrangler still has room for extra gear and groceries, but it doesn’t quite compare to other off-road SUVs in its category.
Unless you upgrade the Wrangler, you won’t get many luxuries. Jeep has kept their updates simple to meet the standard for technology with their UConnect interface, while also remembering their roots of ruggedness and authority.
Like the 4Runner, the Wrangler has optional off-road upgrades. The Jeep Trail Rated Kit is one of these options and includes a tow-strap, 2 D-rings, a pair of gloves, and a Jeep carrying bag. Chrysler’s MOPAR provides customized aftermarket off-road options, like rock sliders with steps and off-road tires, that are installed before taking a Jeep Wrangler home.
The Jeep Wrangler has made slight improvements in the handling and drive over the last few years. It’s still not the smoothest ride in comparison to some other vehicles, but it does handle well in the backcountry.
While still a little clunky on the highway, the 2019 Wrangler has better handling and agility than previous models. There is less body roll, too, which Jeeps have been known for since their inception. Despite its rougher ride than the 4Runner, die-hard off-roaders still flock to the Wrangler as their Holy Grail of rock crawling and climbing, even if driving the paved road to get you there is a little noisier and rougher than its counterparts.
If you’re ballin’ on a budget and want a vehicle that’s comfortable no matter where you go, I would go with the Toyota 4Runner. Though the base price is higher than the base price of a Wrangler, you have access to more value in both off-road and highway features.
If you’re ready to ball out and don’t care about price, the Jeep Wrangler’s highest-priced models have everything you need to lose yourself in the desert safely and efficiently. With all the MOPAR upgrades Jeep has access to, you can customize and develop the perfect off-road kit for you. If you want to go big, go Jeep!