Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips and Reviews

A red 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee is driving on a tree-lined road.

What We Think of Jeep’s Largest SUV

When you’re shopping for an SUV, what do you look for? Power? Utility? Onboard technology? All of the above? The market of SUVs is huge and growing as drivers find more and more value in having a car that can do it all. With so many options out there to select from, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the number of potential selections. To help you narrow down your options, we’ll breakdown two of the industry’s top performers, the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Nissan Pathfinder. Here we have two SUVs that offer plenty in the way of power, utility, and technology; however, as you may already expect, one model is better at delivering what’s promised than another. We’ll breakdown all of the nuances that separate these two SUVs and potentially help you make a worthwhile pick when you visit your local dealership.

Two SUVs with Serious Potential

In one corner, the Nissan Pathfinder, a three-row SUV that hopes to win drivers over with its sheer size and potential as a solid family-car. In the other, is the Jeep Grand Cherokee, a vehicle that walks the tight-line between full-size and mid-sized SUV, and manages to pack more variation into a single-vehicle than some automakers carry across their entire family lineup. Both of these vehicles enter in competition with some big promises, and we’ll dig a little deeper to see whether or not they live up to them all.

The 2020 Nissan Pathfinder is a simple SUV with four simple trim options, which include the S, SV, SL, and Platinum. With three rows of seating, you’d think that it’d be much larger than its competitor, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which only seats five. The truth of the matter is, the Nissan Pathfinder is only about ten inches longer than the Jeep Grand Cherokee measuring in at 199” in length, and 77” in width. How the Nissan Pathfinder utilizes nearly the same amount of space is interesting, especially considering it is the cheaper car, being price at an MSRP of $31,680.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is another beast entirely. With seven different trim options, the Jeep Grand Cherokee makes the Nissan Pathfinder look pretty limiting in terms of what’s available. Those seven different trim levels include the Laredo, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, SRT, and Trackhawk. Although all of this customization comes at a price, as the Jeep Grand Cherokee is a little more expensive, coming in at an MSRP of $32,240. Although, time will tell whether this bump in price comes with an added value over the Nissan Pathfinder.

A silver 2020 Nissan Pathfinder is driving in the snow.

Engine Configuration to the Extreme

As we mentioned before, the Nissan Pathfinder is relatively simple, especially compared to the Jeep Grand Cherokee. This fact is particularly true when you look at the number of engine options, as the Nissan Pathfinder only offers one, and it comes in the shape of a 284 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine. This V6 can haul up to 6,000 pounds at the rear and is assisted by a decent CVT, so the performance of the Nissan Pathfinder is good, but it isn’t phenomenal. You also won’t find a Nissan Pathfinder trekking across rugged terrain either, with only above 7.0-inches of total ground clearance. Even with an all-wheel drivetrain, the furthest off the trail you might be able to go is your local campsite or neighborhood park.

The jeep Grand Cherokee exists in the exact opposite end of the spectrum. The engine builds of the Grand Cherokee are almost as diverse as the different available trim options. The base model engine already outperforms the Nissan Pathfinder, as drivers will be able to enjoy the power delivered by a 295 horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine that puts out 260 lb-ft of torque through a rear-wheel drivetrain and an 8-speed automatic transmission. The powertrains only increase in power from there and can vary in terms of what kind of driving they excel at. Take the 5.7-liter V8 available in some trims, which puts out 360 horsepower, and has a max towing capacity of 7,200 pounds. Or, if you want to build a Jeep Grand Cherokee that is able to compete at a sports car level, you’ll find it in the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. In this model, you’ll get a 6.2-liter V8 engine that roars out at 707 horsepower and can launch from 0 to 60 in as little as 3.5 seconds.

Alternatively, if you want a Jeep SUV that’s ready for some serious trail running, the Jeep Trailhawk might be a better fit. Utilizing a beefier off-road suspension, terrain gripping tires, and a seamless four-wheel drive system, you can enjoy the thrill of driving a vehicle that can go practically anywhere and do practically anything.

So, as you can tell, when it comes to performance and customization, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is the clear winner in every meaning of the word. But, we shouldn’t count out the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder just yet.

A silver 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is driving around a corner.

A Comparison of Comfort

Arguably the Nissan Pathfinder is a pretty big car, and you can feel the full extent of that on the inside. Second-row passengers get a healthy 40 inches of legroom, while third-row passengers get 30 inches to stretch out in. Cargo spacing in the Nissan Pathfinder is pretty solid too, with 47 cubic feet behind the second row. And with leather upholstery as standard in the first two rows in the SL and Platinum trims, there is a lot to love about the interior of the Nissan Pathfinder. Throw in the fact that all Nissan Pathfinder models get an 8.0-inch infotainment screen that is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible and that it comes with a keyless ignition and six total USB ports, you have an SUV that is meant to entertain and satisfy.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee offers a similar experience but doesn’t quite compare to that of the Nissan Pathfinder. Sure, you’ll get 63 cubic feet of total cargo space, and some plush feeling cloth and leather upholstery, but the 38 inches of legroom can feel kind of cramped for rear-seat passengers. A 7.0-inch infotainment screen is included with the dash of the base model Jeep Grand Cherokee, and it is equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for good measure. That display can be upgraded in higher trims and can come with additional features such as heated and power-adjustable front seats, a full-power outlet, and remote start.

So, while the Jeep Grand Cherokee does offer a pretty stellar interior cabin, it isn’t quite as strong as what is available in the Nissan Pathfinder, which is an important point worth noting.

Who We Think is the Winner

If you’re looking for a family-oriented SUV, then the Nissan Pathfinder is the way to go, but unfortunately, this is a very narrow market to appeal to. Anyone who’s looking for better power, versatility, and overall specs will have to look elsewhere, like the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Jeep Grand Cherokee can be tailored to fit almost any kind of drive style or lifestyle, from the speed-demon to the off-road enthusiast. This factor is what makes the Jeep Grand Cherokee a winner in our book. With this Jeep SUV, you won’t have to settle for anything less, as you can configure a model to fit your specific individual needs.

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