Comparison: 2011 Ford Explorer vs. 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Brian Konoske

Limited once denoted the ritziest Grand Cherokee, complete with cheesy gold accents because it was, you know, so money. Thankfully, the gold days are over. Today, the money Jeep is the Overland ($42,690 with four-wheel drive), while the least expensive, two-wheel-drive Laredo is priced at $30,995.

Although the Limited is the top-spec Explorer, it doesn't have quite as much standard equipment as the not-quite-top-spec Grand Cherokee Limited, which includes a sunroof, heated rear seats, and navigation. Both have heated leather front seats, a backup camera, and keyless ignition. Our Jeep added twenty-inch wheels (which are standard on the Explorer Limited), bringing its total to $41,090. The Ford was optioned with navigation, blind-spot warning, a power liftgate, and power-folding third-row seats, among other add-ons, for a total of $43,555.

In suburbia, an SUV is often a family hauler, a role it has assumed more prominently ever since the Dodge Durango introduced third-row seats to the sub-battleship-class sport-ute. The Explorer was first fitted with a third row in 2002, and it's now standard. The third row is actually adult habitable; the second row is a nice, high perch; and the front seats are wide and soft. Inflatable seatbelts, which help distribute crash forces for children or elderly passengers, are available for the second row. This new-generation Explorer migrates to a car-based platform, shared with the Taurus and the Flex. That may be a further domestication of the species, but it enables an easier climb in, particularly for kids.

The Grand Cherokee has resisted the three-row trend, but it, too, has become more welcoming to rear passengers. Thanks to wider-opening doors and a 5.3-inch-longer wheelbase, access to the back seats has finally opened up. Once there, passengers enjoy a significant four more inches of legroom than before; the front seats are firmer than the Ford's but not bad.

These vehicles have grown larger, but the Explorer has gotten a lot larger -- it is now more than seven inches longer than the Grand Cherokee and nearly half a foot wider. Still, it's not that much more unwieldy around town, thanks to a reasonable turning circle. A backup camera is a necessity in both vehicles, but for drivers who still find the prospect of parallel parking just too daunting, Ford offers the option of an automated parking system that will do most of the work for you.

oh yeah and it had 190 hp. :P compared to the Explorers measly 160 hp, yeah fords 4.0 was quality. 
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. 
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. 
Long live the Grand Cherokee! Wonder how it compares to a Land Rover LR4...

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