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Highlander vs. Grand Cherokee

El Bishop

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Hi

My family (me, wife and three year old) are considering new cars to get us to the snow (Sugarbush, I hope) reliably and safely most weekends next season. We're trying to decide between the Toyota Highlander and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Anyone have any thoughts on these and on one versus the other. We would also like to be able to tow a boat and drive on beaches too, to the extent that factors in.

Thanks for any insight.
 

twinplanx

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I think the Highlander is a nicer vehicle, but that full time 4 wheel drive is a major turn off. I have owned neither. Just mho.
 

Hawkshot99

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I would take any Toyota vehicle over the American companies equivalent. Dont just buy what feels/looks great now, but look at how that vehicle will hold up.
 

hammer

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I would take any Toyota vehicle over the American companies equivalent. Dont just buy what feels/looks great now, but look at how that vehicle will hold up.
Know that it wasn't in the comparison, but I don't care how reliable the latest 4Runner may be, after test driving one I would not care to own one.

The Highlander is nice but IMO the overall feel doesn't match that of the Jeep GC. That said I do agree that you will have a better chance of fewer maintenance issues with the Highlander. Boils down to what is more important to you.
 

Glenn

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The Highlander is built on a front wheel drive Camry platform. The Jeep is a slightly modified Mercedes ML platform. The current Grand was engineered when Chrysler was owned by Daimler. My inlaws have a highlander. It's okay; but not my cup of tea.
 

Edd

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If "reliably" is important criteria then the Highlander is a no-brainier in my book.
 

HD333

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My old man has a Highlander Unlimited and he loves it. Drives very carlike and its comfortable. He puts snows on in the winter and has never had an issue. It does feel like you are riding lower than other SUVs I have been in. Not sure of the towing capacity but he is able to tow a small trailer with no problem. The Highlander does have a small fold flat 3rd row if you ever need it in a pinch.

I would think the Jeep would have a better towing capacity( just guessing ) and I wound feel more confident driving on the beach in a Jeep.
 

twinplanx

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Oh disregard my previous comment. I was thinking of Toyota Landcrusier. I assume the Highlander is not full time 4WD ...
 

crank

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I have 210k on my '03 Highlander. I bought it because Consumer Reports rated it very highly for reliability (just under the Honda Pilot). I liked it's smooth ride better than the Honda and better than the Jeep. I take a lot of road trips: skiing, camping, beach vacations at Cape Cod... It has been a great vehicle and has been through a lot of hairy roads in heavy snowstorms and never got stuck. (I tend to head north when the snow is falling). I don't even bother with snow tires.

The car is still going strong and I still drive it on long road trips. I have only put routine maintenance into it and had the aiming belt changed at 120K just as a precaution. I think it is full time 4wd. If she ever quits on me the first vehicle I will look at will be another Toyota Highlander.
 

gostan

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It is early in the game, but my Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited that I purchased in December 2010 has had zero problems. It is a completely different vehicle than a Highlander. And is a different Jeep than those of yore.
 

hammer

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I have 210k on my '03 Highlander. I bought it because Consumer Reports rated it very highly for reliability (just under the Honda Pilot). I liked it's smooth ride better than the Honda and better than the Jeep. I take a lot of road trips: skiing, camping, beach vacations at Cape Cod... It has been a great vehicle and has been through a lot of hairy roads in heavy snowstorms and never got stuck. (I tend to head north when the snow is falling). I don't even bother with snow tires.

The car is still going strong and I still drive it on long road trips. I have only put routine maintenance into it and had the aiming belt changed at 120K just as a precaution. I think it is full time 4wd. If she ever quits on me the first vehicle I will look at will be another Toyota Highlander.

Not sure how the '03 vehicles are but I have had a few issues with my Highlander, '01 with almost 201K on it...all of which happened after the first 100K miles.


  • Tone ring (?) broke causing ABS to kick in on normal braking. Had to replace entire one side of rear axle, cost almost $900. Known issue.
  • Heat control knob broke...another known issue where the dealer solution is to replace the entire control unit (cost over $500). Found a mechanic who could and was willing to fix the broken wires for less.
  • Replaced Catalytic Converter at around 180K miles.
  • AC Compressor and Condenser both went and have been replaced. I fault the design in part because the compressor failures were due to lack of refrigerant which was due to condenser leaks...and there should have been a shutoff to prevent this.

We have been good on maintenance, following the schedule...including replacing the timing belt twice (recommended change interval is 90K and the V6 is an interference engine so a broken belt would be catastrophic)

I'm not saying the vehicle is not solid...actually, we just put in $2K fixing the AC a second time and putting new brakes and tires on so that it would be a good vehicle for our kids to use. It still starts and runs well and I'd agree that with the right tires it does quite well in the snow. Just want to make a point that not all Toyotas are trouble-free.
 

crank

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Hammer, I had the heat control issue as well. Dealer wanted to charge 5 hours of labor plus the 0ver $500 part. I googled it and was able to fix it myself in under an hour with a wrench and a wondering iron. The service manager at the dealer lied to my face when he tole me it was a real pain in the ass to take the whole dash apart and that's where the 5 hours labor came from. I believed him until I googled the problem. To get to the part required prying off a cover around the dashboard controls and unscrewing 6 easy to access bolts...took all of 10 minutes. Bastards!
 

bobbutts

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I'd go with the Highlander out of those two. If you want something more beefy for towing, check out the Lexus GX460. Chevy Traverse another one to consider.
 

marcski

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Hammer, I had the heat control issue as well. Dealer wanted to charge 5 hours of labor plus the 0ver $500 part. I googled it and was able to fix it myself in under an hour with a wrench and a wondering iron. The service manager at the dealer lied to my face when he tole me it was a real pain in the ass to take the whole dash apart and that's where the 5 hours labor came from. I believed him until I googled the problem. To get to the part required prying off a cover around the dashboard controls and unscrewing 6 easy to access bolts...took all of 10 minutes. Bastards!

IMHO, dealers are the biggest rip-off for repairing vehicles. That is where they make their money. These days with the internet, a dealer's cost is pretty much out there in the open. They won't stay in business if they only make $500 over invoice plus whatever incentives a dealer may get....still is at best $1000 profit.
 

Newpylong

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Though I see it's not in the running, test drive the 4Runner at the same time as the Highlander. I have had nothing but 4Runners for the past 20 years and can't say enough good things about them - though I'm not entirely sold on the looks of the latest generation (my current is 2005).

Good luck.
 

deadheadskier

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Such a shame what Toyota has done to the 4-runner. IMO, it was one of the best looking SUVs on the road for 20 years and they completely ruined it.
 

twinplanx

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I have 210k on my '03 Highlander. I bought it because Consumer Reports rated it very highly for reliability (just under the Honda Pilot). I liked it's smooth ride better than the Honda and better than the Jeep. I take a lot of road trips: skiing, camping, beach vacations at Cape Cod... It has been a great vehicle and has been through a lot of hairy roads in heavy snowstorms and never got stuck. (I tend to head north when the snow is falling). I don't even bother with snow tires.

The car is still going strong and I still drive it on long road trips. I have only put routine maintenance into it and had the aiming belt changed at 120K just as a precaution. I think it is full time 4wd. If she ever quits on me the first vehicle I will look at will be another Toyota Highlander.


Ok, I don't want to sound like a dick. But how does one own/drive a vehicle for that length of time/miles & not know what the wheels are doing? I think full time 4wd & All Wheel Drive are different animals. I assume with full time 4wd all 4 wheels spin all the time & AWD transfers power from the wheels that slip to the wheels that grip. Personally, I'd prefer a vehicle with a transfer case...

Sorry, not trying to pick on you, just confused ;-)
 

marcski

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Ok, I don't want to sound like a dick. But how does one own/drive a vehicle for that length of time/miles & not know what the wheels are doing? I think full time 4wd & All Wheel Drive are different animals. I assume with full time 4wd all 4 wheels spin all the time & AWD transfers power from the wheels that slip to the wheels that grip. Personally, I'd prefer a vehicle with a transfer case...

Sorry, not trying to pick on you, just confused ;-)

While generally, I agree with your last statement...there was nothing like the grip on the road I used to get from our '00 GC when I locked the hubs and put her in 4WD as opposed to the regular AWD mode. So, it depends what you're looking for.
 

hammer

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Ok, I don't want to sound like a dick. But how does one own/drive a vehicle for that length of time/miles & not know what the wheels are doing? I think full time 4wd & All Wheel Drive are different animals. I assume with full time 4wd all 4 wheels spin all the time & AWD transfers power from the wheels that slip to the wheels that grip. Personally, I'd prefer a vehicle with a transfer case...

Sorry, not trying to pick on you, just confused ;-)

The Highlander is AWD but IIRC the power balance is closer to 50/50 on a regular basis, unlike some vehicles where the split is more biased towards FWD or RWD. It is not true 4WD.

The Jeep GC base models are AWD as well although I think their bias is a bit more towards RWD. If you go with the upgraded models (Limited or Overland) you get a lot more off-road capability.

IMO if you take a vehicle off-road regularly the ability to lock all 4 wheels in (true 4WD) is the way to go.
 
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