Jeep argues that the Japanese brand simply doesn't have the tech.
Toyota and Jeep aren't what we'd consider likely rivals as the former caters to a plethora of segments, including space vehicles, while the latter is primarily focused on versatile off-roading products. That's not to say that Toyota can't hold its own through a small Overlanding expedition, especially with the likes of its new Tundra and Sequoia.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the younger products to join the company's arsenal but it benefits from a deep heritage of intense off-roaders, not unlike the favorable history of Toyota. The head of the brand's product marketing department, Jeff Ellsworth, believes that despite the Japanese brand's efforts in the segment, it will never be able to match the off-roading capabilities of a Jeep.
Speaking to Cars Guide at Australia's launch of the 4xe model, Ellsworth argues, "I'm biased, but for sure [we're better off-road]. There are different types of off-roading, and I have respect for Toyota so nothing against them, but when it comes to rock-crawling, Toyota can't do what we can do. There's going to be advantages to what Toyota can do elsewhere, but for rock-crawling, it's going to be Jeep all the way."
This is a bold claim, especially now that Toyota is rolling out new products on its TNGA-F platform, which has been globally revered as a capable chassis for off-roading thanks to its innovative body-on-frame layout. This is the same architecture used to underpin the Lexus LX and the Toyota Land Cruiser 300.
Jeep on the other hand offers a pretty capable setup for its Grand Cherokee range as well, especially in Trailhawk guise. Its favorable proportions afford it impressive water-fording and general off-roading prowess. Thanks to supporting systems including an electric limited-slip differential and the brand's Quadra-Trac and -Drive II tech, it also makes covering obstacles a bit of an easier task.
Ellsworth adds that Jeep has also positioned the Grand Cherokee to compete in a more premium segment compared to Toyota's range. He says, "The position has always been as a more upscale vehicle, and each generation further and further enhances that. It's a unique vehicle in that it's able to attack the mainstream, while still extend itself to be able to attack the [more] premium brands."