Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Ford Explorer

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website

, Automotive Editor - February 2, 2016

The Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer are longtime rivals in the marketplace. The Jeep has remained true to its rugged SUV heritage, while the Ford has transitioned into family-friendly crossover with car-like driveability. If sales are any indication, both approaches are a hit, but which works best in our view?

See a side-by-side comparison of the Grand Cherokee & Explorer »

The Case for Grand Cherokee

The Grand Cherokee benefited from an exterior and interior redesign in 2014, giving it further refinement but allowing it to retain its legendary off-road ability. The deep model range allows buyers to adapt the Grand Cherokee to fit most needs and budgets. Regardless of what trim you choose, you get a high level of sophistication. The top-quality interior, in particular, is evidence that Jeep is serious about pushing its flagship SUV into luxury territory.

Along with the base 295-horsepower V6 and famed 260-horsepower Hemi V8, Jeep offers the Grand Cherokee with a 240-horsepower turbo-diesel 3-liter V6 that promises 30 mpg on the highway and a towing capacity of up to 7,400 pounds. All engines are hooked to a new eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

The Case for Explorer

The Ford impresses us most with its highly refined, technology-laden interior for seven and over 80 cubic feet of maximum cargo room. The upscale finishes feel both luxurious and durable, and noise levels are soothingly low. Adding to the allure are features such the Sync voice-command system, MyFord Touch electronics interface, and second-row seatbelt airbags. The Explorer also offers adaptive cruise control with collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and active parking assist.

The standard 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 provides commendable overall performance, although buyers can also choose a 280-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder for increased fuel efficiency. There's also a Sport model that carries a potent turbo V6 with 365 horsepower in addition to a firmer suspension and more aggressive trim. Notably, the Explorer's available all-wheel-drive system allows drivers to select one of four road conditions for optimal traction.

The Bottom Line

The newest Grand Cherokee honors its history while keeping pace with the times. The sophisticated Explorer is designed for the pavement, where most families spend their time.

Our Verdict: Ford Explorer

The Grand Cherokee is great for smaller families looking for some extra upscale goodies, but the Explorer is best for large families looking for the best bang for their buck.

Take a closer look at the Jeep Grand Cherokee »

Take a closer look at the Ford Explorer »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website