2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the Explorer and Grand Cherokee have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Explorer has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Grand Cherokee’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Explorer has standard Post Collision Braking, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Grand Cherokee doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Explorer ST/Platinum has standard Reverse Brake Assist that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Grand Cherokee doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum has a standard 360-Degree Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Grand Cherokee only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The Explorer’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Grand Cherokee doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Explorer and the Grand Cherokee have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning and available all wheel drive.

Warranty

There are over 27 percent more Ford dealers than there are Jeep dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability

For smoother operation, better efficiency and fewer moving parts, the engines in the Explorer have an overhead cam design, rather than the old pushrod design of the 5.7 V8 in the Grand Cherokee.

The Explorer has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Grand Cherokee doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Jeep vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 17 more problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep is ranked 17th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Ford vehicles are more reliable than Jeep vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford 16th in reliability. With 21 more problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep is ranked 24th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Ford vehicles are more reliable than Jeep vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Ford 4 places higher in reliability than Jeep.

Engine

The Explorer has more powerful engines than the Grand Cherokee:

Horsepower

Torque

Explorer 2.3 turbo 4 cyl.

300 HP

310 lbs.-ft.

Explorer 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid

318 HP

322 lbs.-ft.

Explorer Platinum 3.0 turbo V6

365 HP

380 lbs.-ft.

Explorer ST 3.0 turbo V6

400 HP

415 lbs.-ft.

Grand Cherokee 3.6 DOHC V6

295 HP

260 lbs.-ft.

Grand Cherokee 5.7 V8

360 HP

390 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Explorer gets better fuel mileage than the Grand Cherokee:

MPG

Explorer

RWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/28 hwy

AWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

3.0 turbo V6

18 city/24 hwy

ST 3.0 turbo V6

18 city/24 hwy

Grand Cherokee

RWD

3.6 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

AWD

3.6 DOHC V6

18 city/25 hwy

5.7 OHV V8

14 city/22 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the Explorer Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Grand Cherokee doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Regardless of its engine, the Explorer’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Jeep only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Grand Cherokee V6.

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Ford Explorer, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Grand Cherokee.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Explorer’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Grand Cherokee:

Explorer

Explorer ST

Explorer ST opt.

Grand Cherokee V6

Grand Cherokee V8/Diesel

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

13.6 inches

14.3 inches

13 inches

13.8 inches

Rear Rotors

12.4 inches

12.8 inches

13.8 inches

13 inches

13 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Explorer has larger standard tires than the Grand Cherokee (255/65R18 vs. 245/70R17). The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Grand Cherokee (275/45R21 vs. 265/50R20).

The Explorer’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 65 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Grand Cherokee Laredo’s standard 70 series tires. The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Grand Cherokee’s optional 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Explorer has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Grand Cherokee Laredo. The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional 21-inch wheels are larger than the 20-inch wheels optional on the Grand Cherokee.

Having a flat tire is dangerous, inconvenient and expensive. The self-sealing tires available on the Explorer can automatically seal most punctures up to 3/16 of an inch, effectively preventing most flat tires. The Grand Cherokee doesn’t offer self-sealing tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Explorer’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Grand Cherokee doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Explorer’s wheelbase is 4.4 inches longer than on the Grand Cherokee (119.1 inches vs. 114.7 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Explorer is 3 inches wider in the front and 2.8 inches wider in the rear than on the Grand Cherokee.

Chassis

The front grille of the Explorer (except 3.3 V6 non-Hybrid) uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Grand Cherokee doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The Explorer has standard seating for 7 passengers; the Grand Cherokee can only carry 5.

The Explorer has 47.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Grand Cherokee (152.7 vs. 105.4).

The Explorer has .8 inches more front headroom, 2.7 inches more front legroom, 2.2 inches more front hip room, 3.1 inches more front shoulder room, 1.3 inches more rear headroom, .4 inches more rear legroom, 2.9 inches more rear hip room and 3.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the Grand Cherokee.

Cargo Capacity

The Explorer’s cargo area provides more volume than the Grand Cherokee.

Explorer

Grand Cherokee

Third Seat Folded

47.9 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

36.3 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

87.8 cubic feet

68.3 cubic feet

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Explorer easier. The Explorer’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 31.1 inches, while the Grand Cherokee’s liftover is 32.4 inches.

The Explorer’s cargo area is larger than the Grand Cherokee’s in every dimension:

Explorer

Grand Cherokee

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

20.8”/49.8”/83.9”

n.a./38.5”/74.2”

Max Width

59”

47.6”

Min Width

48.1”

41.7”

Height

33.7”

33.5”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Explorer’s second and third row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Grand Cherokee doesn’t offer automatic folding second row seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Grand Cherokee doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Ergonomics

The Explorer’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Grand Cherokee’s parking brake has to released manually.

On a hot day the Explorer’s driver can lower all the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Grand Cherokee can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer’s exterior PIN entry system. The Grand Cherokee doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its extra cost Uconnect Access can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

The Explorer’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Grand Cherokee’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Explorer Platinum has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Grand Cherokee doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Explorer ST/Platinum’s Active Park Assist 2.0 can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Grand Cherokee (except Laredo)’s automatic parking system requires operating the brakes and transmission to safely park.

Recommendations

The Ford Explorer outsold the Jeep Grand Cherokee by 16% during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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