Crossover & Midsize

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Subaru Outback: Which Adventure-Driven SUV Wins?

Seldom does a memorable journey begin without a noble steed. You’ll want an SUV with the right blend of comfort and capability when choosing the perfect vehicle for your next chapter of adventures. The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the 2020 Subaru Outback are two of the best off-road-capable SUVs on the market.

But which one is right for you? Consumer Report’s midsize SUV ranking gives the edge to the Subaru Outback, but does that tell the whole story?

Traditionally, Jeeps don’t excel in overall vehicle score ratings, as most are geared toward off-roading instead of daily driving. However, Subaru accommodates both driving styles without leaning too far one way or the other.

Jeep, unsurprisingly, dominates performance

Gearheads and adventurers alike salivate over the specs of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Off-road focused models feature advanced 4×4 systems and all-terrain enhancements. 

The iconic Trailhawk has a Quadra Drive II 4×4 system that can reroute all of the engine’s torque to a single rear wheel. This can help drivers get out of tricky situations while driving on rocky or uneven terrain.

Meanwhile, performance models of the Grand Cherokee, such as the SRT and Trackhawk, blurs the line between muscle car and SUV. The SRT’s 6.4-liter V8 kicks out 475 hp and has a 7,200-pound max towing capacity. The Trackhawks, however, is a straight-line burner. Its supercharged V8 achieves 707 hp and posts a 0-60 MPH time of just 3.5 seconds, according to Jeep.

The 2020 Subaru Outback doesn’t have quite the same wow factor, but it holds its own off-road. All 2020 Outback models come standard with all-wheel drive, while many lower-end Grand Cherokee trims only come standard with rear-wheel drive.

Plus, the Subaru Outback has 8.7 inches of ground clearance, so undercarriage damage shouldn’t be a significant concern. Although, it may have trouble tackling some of the more grueling terrain out there, as it lacks the advanced 4×4 systems for which Jeep is known.

The 2020 Subaru Outback shines in ride quality and efficiency

2020 Subaru Outback displaying capability with staged photo on top of a cliffside
The off-road capable 2020 Subaru Outback | Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

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The 2020 Grand Cherokee may be making headlines with its flashy specs. However, buyers likely aren’t relegating their new SUV purchase just to off-road excursions. They’ll want a complete ride. 

That’s where the Subaru Outback excels. The 2020 Outback is just as comfortable cruising the highway as it is traversing unpaved trails.

Lower Outback trims come with a highly efficient four-cylinder engine, which gets an EPA-estimated 29 MPG city/highway combined. In comparison, the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s most efficient model only achieves an EPA-estimated 21 MPG city/highway combined.

Meanwhile, its top-tier trims feature a more powerful, yet relatively efficient, 260-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Consumer Report also gave the Outback a perfect score in ride comfort while the Grand Cherokee earned a 4/5 rating.

The 2020 Subaru Outback is more trusted in safety

The IIHS named the 2020 Outback a Top Safety Pick+, while the Jeep Grand Cherokee failed to gain recognition.

Shoppers who choose the 2020 Outback over the 2020 Grand Cherokee will gain more standard safety features. Some crucial systems include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane-keeping assist.

However, the Grand Cherokee does offer these driver-assistance features on higher trims. Notably, it comes standard with a blind-spot warning system, which is only an available feature on the Subaru Outback.

The final verdict

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Both vehicles are superior options to bring along with you for your next weekend getaway. However, the 2020 Subaru Outback is more practical for everyday use due to its exceptional fuel efficiency and safety ratings. Plus, the Subaru Outback gives you more for your money with a starting MSRP of only $26,565 compared to the Grand Cherokee’s $34,000.

Unless crawling rocks and water fording will be a daily occurrence, the Subaru Outback is the wiser choice over the Jeep Grand Cherokee.