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Jeep Grand Cherokee vs Ford Explorer: The Ultimate Iowa Showdown of 3-Row SUV Giants

In the matchup of Jeep Grand Cherokee vs Ford Explorer, you’re likely looking for a clear winner based on personalized requirements like towing strength, cabin space, or trail readiness. This comparison will guide you through the stand-out features and trade-offs of both vehicles to help you decide which SUV checks the right boxes for you. Expect a thorough analysis that strikes a balance between detail and digestibility, giving you just what you need to inform your next big purchase.

Key Takeaways

  • The Jeep Grand Cherokee L boasts off-road capability, a luxurious and quiet cabin, but offers less cargo space and lower fuel economy compared to the Ford Explorer.

  • The Ford Explorer provides more cargo space, higher fuel efficiency, and standard safety features across all models, though it has less towing capacity and its off-road capabilities are not as advanced as the Grand Cherokee’s.

  • Both SUVs offer modern infotainment options with smartphone integration, but the Grand Cherokee’s interior is noted for higher quality finishes, and its Uconnect system is more user-friendly than the Explorer’s infotainment system.

Battle of the SUVs: Grand Cherokee Meets Explorer

Comparison of Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer

The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L and Ford Explorer have earned their spots in the hearts of families for their outstanding design, state-of-the-art technology, and quality of materials used. The Jeep Grand Cherokee, known for its rugged and well-appointed characteristics, squares off against the Ford Explorer, celebrated for its spaciousness and sporty feel.

As potential buyers, you’ll be assessing each model’s:

  • space

  • comfort

  • technology features

  • overall driving experience

And yes, the price tag matters too, with the base rear-wheel-drive Ford Explorer starting at $32,225.

Design Dynamics: Exterior Elegance vs. Robust Readiness

Rugged off-road heritage of Jeep Grand Cherokee and modern urban appeal of Ford Explorer

When it comes to design dynamics, both SUVs have their unique appeal. The Ford Explorer’s shift to a rear-wheel-drive platform has given it a more athletic stance, with dynamic lines enhancing its modern urban appeal. Sporty elements such as a heavily bolstered steering wheel and the ST-Line’s influence from the high-performance Explorer ST model add to its athletic image.

On the other hand, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, with its classic SUV design elements, includes:

  • A boxy shape

  • A bold front grill

  • A wide, flat hood

  • Features like low-range gearing and a height-adjustable air suspension

These design elements underscore its rugged off-road heritage and signal its readiness for off-road adventures.

Performance Prowess: Engine Options and Driving Dynamics

A glance under the hood reveals the Ford Explorer’s impressive handling for its size. Its rear-wheel-drive architecture ensures responsive steering and an athletic feel. However, the ride quality is compromised by body movement on twisty roads, and the braking experience is less refined.

Conversely, the Grand Cherokee exhibits:

  • Stability and responsiveness at lower speeds, conveying a refined performance

  • Engine noises that add character

  • Quick real-world performance, despite being slower to 60 mph

  • A smooth, consistent ride, highlighting its balanced capabilities in power, comfort, and off-road adaptability.

Family-Friendly Features: Space and Comfort for Passengers

Interior space and comfort for passengers in Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer

Internally, both the Ford Explorer and the Jeep Grand Cherokee meet family needs effectively. The Ford Explorer’s cabin comfortably seats up to seven passengers, emphasizing functional and versatile family use. However, its third-row seating is best suited for children due to the cramped space.

In contrast, the Grand Cherokee provides:

  • A refined interior with attention to detail

  • An isolated experience from outside noise

  • A three row configuration with third-row seats that are more accessible and comfortable, with large windows for a less claustrophobic feel, and a spacious middle row in its three rows design

Despite a spacious interior, the Grand Cherokee offers less cargo space behind the second row than the Explorer, which may influence comfort and convenience for family usage.

Efficiency and Endurance: Fuel Economy Face-Off

In terms of fuel economy, the Ford Explorer marginally outperforms the Jeep Grand Cherokee with a combined rating of 23 mpg versus 21 mpg. A higher fuel economy translates to cost savings during daily commutes and fewer stops for refueling during long trips.

In the long run, the Ford Explorer’s superior fuel economy could lead to potential travel cost reductions, making it a more economical choice for consumers.

The Long Haul: Driving Range and Efficiency

For extended trips, the Jeep Grand Cherokee boasts:

  • An estimated driving range of around 500 to 600 miles on a full tank, surpassing the Ford Explorer’s range of 430 to 490 miles.

  • The Grand Cherokee’s hybrid variant, the 4xe, enjoys a fuel economy rating of 56 MPGe combined using both electricity and gasoline.

  • An all-electric range of 25 miles and a total range of 470 miles on a full tank and battery.

This advantage could make the Grand Cherokee a better choice for those who often embark on long trips.

Eco-Friendly Options: Hybrid Variants Explored

With the world shifting towards more eco-friendly options, Jeep has introduced the Grand Cherokee 4xe hybrid model. Here are some key features of the Grand Cherokee 4xe:

  • Estimated total range of 470 miles with a fully charged battery and full tank of gasoline

  • Reduces environmental impact by lowering emissions compared to traditional combustion engine models

  • Eco-friendly performance-based SUV

Tackling Terrain: Off-Road Iowa Capability Compared

Moving on to discuss off-road capabilities, an essential aspect considering Iowa’s varied terrain. The Jeep Grand Cherokee offers the Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II 4x4 systems, which enhance off-road traction and provide a reliable four wheel drive experience. The Ford Explorer Timberline version raises its ground clearance to 8.7 inches and is equipped with off-road components such as skid plates and upgraded suspension.

Even though the Ford Explorer can manage off-road conditions, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is more renowned for its superior off-road capabilities.

Trail-Ready Tech: Advanced Off-Road Systems

Both SUVs feature advanced off-road systems. The Jeep Grand Cherokee’s Quadra-Lift Air Suspension System enhances its off-road capability by allowing drivers to increase ground clearance at the push of a button. This system not only grants heightened clearance but also contributes to a more comfortable ride on uneven terrain.

On the other hand, the Ford Explorer is equipped with the Terrain Management System, which includes a Trail mode designed to enhance throttle response, shifting patterns, and traction control for improved off-road driving.

Comfort on the Climb: Ride Quality Off the Beaten Path

Comfort need not be sacrificed for off-road performance. The Jeep Grand Cherokee offers a smooth ride on uneven terrain, thanks to its Quadra-Lift Air Suspension System. The Ford Explorer Timberline’s all-terrain tires are designed for enhanced off-road grip, but they may lead to increased noise on highways.

Therefore, while both SUVs are capable of tackling off-road journeys, the Grand Cherokee offers a smoother and more consistent ride.

Safety and Assistance: Des Moines Driver Aid Duel

Safety is of utmost importance for any vehicle, particularly for family-oriented SUVs. While the Jeep Grand Cherokee offers an extensive array of safety features that require additional payment, the Ford Explorer comes standard with:

  • Pedestrian detection

  • Automatic emergency braking

  • Blind spot monitoring

  • Lane keep assist

It’s also worth noting that the Ford Explorer earned a Top Safety Pick+ designation from IIHS, showcasing its excellence in safety.

Protecting Passengers: In-Car Safety Technologies

Regarding in-car safety technologies, both SUVs strive to guarantee the safety of all passengers. The Jeep Grand Cherokee offers standard safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, along with advanced safety technologies including adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.

On the other hand, the Ford Explorer comes equipped with Ford Co-Pilot360™ across all models, providing essential safety tools like Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and a comprehensive Lane-Keeping System.

Driver's Best Friend: Assistance Features for Peace of Mind

Drivers greatly benefit from advanced driving aids, which provide peace of mind on the road. The Jeep Grand Cherokee’s steering assist helps to keep the vehicle centered in the lane, while its advanced cooling systems manage the additional heat load from towing.

The Ford Explorer’s Towing and Trailer Sway Control technology assists in trailer control, adding an extra layer of safety during towing operations.

Cargo Considerations: Iowa Family Storage Space Showdown

Another distinguishing factor between the two SUVs is storage space. When it comes to cargo space, the Ford Explorer offers slightly more at 47.9 cubic feet with the third-row seats folded, compared to the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s 46.9 cubic feet.

For maximum cargo-hauling capabilities, folding both the second and third rows reveals a total of 84.6 cubic feet of cargo space in the Grand Cherokee, compared to the Explorer’s 87.8 cubic feet.

Everyday Errands: Practicality for Shopping Bags and Sports Gear

Both SUVs are well-suited for everyday errands. The Jeep Grand Cherokee offers a variety of small-item storage options, including a generous center console and additional cubbies. It also features fold-flat seats, presenting various configurations for everyday items and sports gear.

On the other hand, the Ford Explorer offers a hands-free liftgate, making loading groceries simpler after shopping trips, and its cargo management system keeps sports equipment organized and accessible.

Ready for Anything: Maximum Cargo for Big Adventures

For larger adventures, the Ford Explorer boasts more cargo space than the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is particularly useful for transporting outdoor equipment or catering to the needs of large families. With both the second and third rows folded, the Explorer boasts a maximum cargo space of 87.8 cubic feet, against the Grand Cherokee’s 68.3 cubic feet.

So, if you’re planning a big family adventure, the Explorer could be your go-to three row SUV.

Technology and Touches: Infotainment and Interior Finishes

Both the Explorer and Grand Cherokee come with a standard infotainment system that includes:

  • Automatic climate control

  • Satellite radio

  • Android Auto

  • Apple CarPlay

  • Multiple USB ports

These amenities enhance the driving experience and provide connectivity options for drivers and passengers. However, users have found the Explorer’s infotainment system to be less intuitive, citing the absence of a rotary controller.

On the contrary, the Jeep Grand Cherokee L is equipped with the Uconnect 5 infotainment system, available with either an 8.4-inch or a 10.1-inch touchscreen, offering a more user-friendly interface.

Digital Domain: Connectivity and Control at Your Fingertips

In the realm of digital connectivity, both SUVs deliver enhanced features. The Jeep Grand Cherokee’s UConnect interface is recognized for its intuitive design and offers seamless music streaming and smartphone app access, with a larger 8.4-inch touchscreen available.

In contrast, the Ford Explorer provides robust infotainment features, including voice control and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but its system is perceived as outdated compared to the Grand Cherokee’s more modern setup.

Luxury or Utility: Material Quality and Craftsmanship

In terms of interior, the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s cabin stands out for its high-quality materials and luxurious ambiance. It offers opulent interior options, including premium leather upholstery and available open-pore wood trim.

In contrast, the Ford Explorer’s interior design prioritizes functional comfort, with some plasticky interior bits suggesting a utilitarian design. Therefore, while the Explorer offers a more functional interior space, the Grand Cherokee provides a more luxurious feel.

Towing Titans: Pulling Power and Capability

In the area of towing capabilities, the Jeep Grand Cherokee takes the lead with a towing capacity of up to 7,200 pounds with a V8 engine, as opposed to the Ford Explorer’s 5,600 pounds when suitably equipped. Even with the base V6 engine and a Class IV towing package, the Grand Cherokee boasts a notable towing capacity of 6,200 pounds.

In terms of hauling capabilities, the Grand Cherokee clearly takes the lead.

Hitched and Ready: Tow Ratings for Weekend Warriors

Both SUVs accommodate weekend warriors, catering to a range of recreational towing needs. From pulling a pair of jet skis with the Ford Explorer to hauling large boats with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, both SUVs are ready for your weekend adventures.

The Grand Cherokee’s superior towing capacity is particularly beneficial for those who often engage in recreation that requires towing larger or heavier equipment, making it a top choice among grand cherokee’s enthusiasts.

Steady as She Goes: Stability and Control When Towing

Towing involves not only power but also stability and control. The Jeep Grand Cherokee offers features such as heavy-duty cooling systems, reinforced suspension, and trailer sway control to enhance towing capabilities and ensure stability.

The Ford Explorer also provides Towing and Trailer Sway Control technology that assists in trailer control, adding an extra layer of safety during towing operations.


After comparing the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Ford Explorer in various aspects, it’s clear that both SUVs cater well to family needs, offering unique strengths. While the Grand Cherokee stands out for its off-road capabilities, refined performance, and luxurious interior, the Ford Explorer draws attention with its spaciousness, slightly better fuel economy, and more cargo space. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on your specific needs, personal preferences, and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Jeep Grand Cherokee larger than a Ford Explorer?

The Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee L have fairly similar dimensions, but the Ford Explorer offers slightly more cargo capacity and interior passenger volume, while the Jeep Grand Cherokee L is slightly taller and longer.

Which is more reliable Jeep Cherokee or Ford Explorer?

The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a higher reliability rating than the Ford Explorer, according to J.D. Power. Therefore, the Jeep Grand Cherokee can be considered more reliable.

What Jeep is comparable to Explorer?

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is comparable to the Ford Explorer as both are family SUVs.

Which SUV offers better off-road capabilities?

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has superior off-road capabilities.

Which SUV provides more cargo space?

The Ford Explorer provides more overall cargo space than the Jeep Grand Cherokee, making it a better choice if you prioritize cargo capacity.

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