Comparison: 2011 Ford Explorer vs. 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Brian Konoske

The early 1990s are starting to seem like a long time ago. McMansions were barely a twinkle in the Toll brothers' eyes. Apple stock was less than fifteen dollars a share. The Iraq war was going great. A tea party was something for little girls. And Justin Bieber hadn't even been born.

In the U.S. car market, perhaps the biggest difference between then and now is that the SUV, as an automotive force, was in its infancy. Sure, Wranglers, Blazers, Broncos, Scouts, and the like had been bouncing along on the fringe of the American automotive scene for a while, but their numbers were small.

The Ford Explorer, which debuted in the spring of 1990, is the vehicle that, more than any other, brought the sport-utility vehicle out of the wilderness and into suburbia. The Jeep Grand Cherokee, which followed in 1992, was the second most influential agent in the mainstreaming of the SUV. Both were smash hits, and in May 1992, we pitted the Grand Cherokee against the Explorer down at the Y.O. Ranch in Texas.

Both SUVs have had a long history since then, and after nearly twenty years on the market, the Explorer and the Grand Cherokee have just undergone intensive redesigns. It seemed like the perfect reason to get these rivals together to assess how they've changed and how (and whether) they still compare with each other. To do it, we took a journey from suburbia, where the Explorer and the Grand Cherokee reside in real life, to the iconic American West, where they live in our collective imagination-and in the advertising imagery that helped make them such a success.

We set out from the northern reaches of San Diego County, part of the Southern California suburban megalopolis that, like countless others, has over the past two decades become SUV territory. Our two trucks were at home in that upscale area not only because they were surrounded by so many of their brethren but also because of their rather upscale sticker prices. Identically upscale, as it turns out-in V-6, four-by-four, Limited spec, both retail for $39,995.

Where the most deluxe Ford Explorer originally was the Eddie Bauer, the Limited is now the top trim level. Eddie has been retired, and the XLT and the base car sit below the Limited. The cheapest, two-wheel-drive Explorer starts at $28,995.

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blondec19
oh yeah and it had 190 hp. :P compared to the Explorers measly 160 hp, yeah fords 4.0 was quality. 
blondec19
And the "poor" quality you talk about, the inline 4.0 SIX cylinder, ran circles around fords mighty "windsor" and it got 4-5 better MPG than ANY Ford or Chevrolet 6 cylinder, and most of these engines are running FINE with 300,000 or 400,000 miles, find me a "quality" Ford that can handle that? Heck in 1975 with the Jeep J20, fords 3/4 truck couldn't stand up to the 401 V8, in towing or MPG. Jeep beat the competition time and time again, and a vast majority still run! See whats harder to find a 1995 explorer or a 1995 "poor quality" Cherokee. I know where my money is when I look at craigslist tomorrow. 
blondec19
Someone who did a little more research, would note that the JEEP CHEROKEE (XJ) arrived in 1984, STARTED the real SUV trend, and it would run circles around the two followers made years after the XJ. Ford Bronco and GMC Jimmy were two to three years after the Cherokee (coincidence?) Then ford came out with its Explorer, replacing the Bronco. It was midway through the SUV trend, not the starter, not even close. Long live the CHEROKEE I'd say, its what brought you all of your "cute ute's" And we will GLADLY welcome it back when Jeep finally kills of this miserable Compass copy Liberty next year. 
yourbestfriend6492
Long live the Grand Cherokee! Wonder how it compares to a Land Rover LR4...

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