Comparison: 2011 Ford Explorer vs. 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Brian Konoske

Leaving the next morning from Kingman, we couldn't resist spending some time on old Route 66, the epochal cross-country highway. This part of "the mother road," as John Steinbeck called it in The Grapes of Wrath, stretches long and straight to the horizon, running parallel with the railroad tracks just to the south. Here you really get a sense of the vastness of the landscape. It's the kind of driving that affords you plenty of time to contemplate your surroundings. The Explorer's ultramodern driver interface is a stark contrast with the faded roadside retro. The Limited's standard MyFord Touch and Sony HD Radio, along with the optional navigation system, make for an Apple-like instrument panel that is the last word in modernity. Dual reconfigurable screens flank the speedometer; a large, eight-inch touch screen houses the nav unit as well as climate, phone, and audio functions; below that is a gloss-black flat panel with more touch-sensitive buttons. It all looks impressive, and the graphics are superclear, but neither the touch screen nor the touch-sensitive black panel provides the feedback or the positive operation of real buttons. And the screen is chock-full of info, making for very small touch points that demand a lot of attention to hit precisely. Elsewhere, the interior is less spectacular; there are few hard plastics and decent soft touch points, but the standard leather is pretty industrial-grade.

The Jeep has richer leather and lots of nice padding. There's not a lot of flash, but the overall interior quality level has risen dramatically. The Grand Cherokee's electronics seem old-tech, though; the touch-screen nav unit is essentially the same one Chrysler has offered for years, and the logic and the graphics are rudimentary. Too many functions are on-screen, but at least the Jeep has more traditional, and more user-friendly, climate controls. The Grand Cherokee cabin isn't as wide and spacious feeling as the Explorer's, but the Jeep doesn't seem like such a big bus from behind the wheel, either.

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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