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Grand cherokee or Forester?

Hi guys! I recently moved to Colorado and I’m looking at buying a used car.
I will be using it to drive to work every day and go for hikes in the mountains during weekends.

I don’t know exactly about how much I will be spending but depending on what the dealer can offer I expect it will be between 7 and 10k.

The ideal car that Im thinking about would be a Grand Cherokee Limited (It would be great since I love the way it looks and has QUADRA TRAC II system and powerful engine). For that money I could probably get a 2007 with decent miles.

If I can’t aford the limited I would have to go to Laredo, which has Quadra trac I and doesn’t have a 4LOW

In that case Im also considering the Subaru Forester, which from what I know is pretty reliable and decent off road.

So I guess my question would be. Between a Grand Cherokee Laredo and a Forester what would you recomend?

Thanks in advance!

Any 13 year old vehicle is going to be potentially problem-prone, and those problems are likely to be greater-than-average with a Jeep.

That being said, if you really intend to do any off-roading, I don’t think that a Forester would be appropriate. They have an excellent AWD system, but for off-roading you should have 4WD, rather than AWD.

Whatever you choose to buy, you should spend $100 or so to have a pre-purchase inspection done by a mechanic of your choice. And, be sure to have a reserve fund for the repairs that will inevitably crop-up with an older vehicle.

Good luck in your search!


VDC is correct, only a mechanic looking at either one of these vehicles can give you a chance of making a good choice. Even then something could break the same day you bought the vehicle . Also each of these has to stand on their own condition as past problems on other vehicles like these might not even happen to the one you choose.

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Thank you! Yes I do have a mechanic I’m going to use to inspect the car before I buy it

Is there a ground clearance difference?

Yes! The Forester has better ground clearance if I get a 2009 or newer (8.7’’). Grand cherokee has 8’’

Subarus of that vintage tend to have head gasket problems, frequent head gasket problems. Unless you opt for the H6 or turbo models. The Forester isn’t made to go off road, it’s AWD system is meant to keep you on the road in adverse weather conditions.

If it were me I’d look for a WRX wagon or Forester XT


You might also consider a Chevy Tahoe LT 4WD, 2007 - 2010 with about 100,000 miles with equivalent features to the Grand Cherokee. EPA fuel economy is better than the Jeep, even the 6-cylinder, if only slightly better. The Tahoe has a 5.3L 8-cyl, btw.


Thanks for the input! I didn’t know about the head gasket problems!

Thanks! I’ll take a look at it!

The Tahoe is a full size body-on-frame, while the Grand Cherokee is a Mid-Size unibody.

Youre right. But I was actually also considering the Nissan Xterra Pro-X4, also body on frame that would be way better for getting off trail. It is a bit more expensive than the others but I’m still gonna take a look when I’m about to buy to see if I can find a good deal on one.

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The Xterra is a body on Frame. The Pathfinder is also body-on-frame, but it depends on what year.

1st gen was body-on-frame. 2nd (1996 - 2004) was unibody. 3rd gen (2004-2012) went back to body-on-frame. And the current generation Pathfinder is a complete redesign that took a complete departure from the original Pathfinder. It’s more like the Toyota Highlander. They really should have renamed it because it’s not a Pathfinder.

The Xterra is a good vehicle. It shared the same drive-line as the Pathfinder. My 98 Pathy - I gave to my daughter when it had over 300k miles on it. She gave it to her ex boyfriend when it have over 400k miles. And he junked it around 500k miles.

It is a harsher ride then the Pathfinder. It coil up front and leaf springs in rear. But it’s a good durable vehicle. I’d opt for a 2005 or newer. The 4.0L engine in that vehicle is real nice. Not of power and very very reliable. I think it was the last SUV you could get with a manual.

Thanks Mike. I have just been researching the Xterra quite a bit. I think if I can find an affordabel off road/PRO X4 model im gonna go for that one instead of the grand cherokee.

If I can’t find one of those trims Im not quite sure though because the other trims do not have a diff lock, while the grand cherokee limited does have an electronic one (Quadra TRAC II). So if it comes down to GC limited or Xterra (non off road trim) i’m not sure about what to do.

PS: I still have to test drive them though. I’m not sure about how rough body on frame driving is but I don’t think I will mind.

I’d pick the XTerra only because of Reliability. The Grand Cherokee is not as reliable.

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Yup. Good point. I did hear that Xterra and other nissan models have horrible problems with transmission until 2010. But the Grand cherokee isn’t without its problems. Thanks again!

Just a heads up from a current Forester driver who has owned 4 Subies:–-buy-one-not-one
That aside, they are FANTASTIC off road. For the new generation, Subaru again offers skid plates as options (Last generation skipped that).

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They had problems with their CVT transmissions…But the XTerra does not have a CVT tranny. You can even get a manual.


If you are going off road, do not get AWD. Get a true 4WD that you can shift into and out of. AWDs use a viscous clutch between the front and back and sometimes have a viscous clutch in the rear differential. Before the viscous clutch will lock up, at least one tire has to start slipping. With a true 4WD, the front and rear differentials are locked to the same speed giving you more traction when taking off. Just don’t leave the vehicle in 4WD on dry pavement.

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Most AWD systems these days - you can lock the front and rear axles like many 4wd systems.

I wouldn’t use the Cherokee or Forester for heavy off-roading because they are both unibody systems.