Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Ford Explorer

Sometimes what you need to make a smart buying decision is a comparison, not of current or new models, but of the pre-owned models you will find on the lots at your local dealerships. Granted, not every pre-owned will be the same, but provided you have a dealer who will ensure the vehicle is fully certified and has low miles on it, the next best comparison is to look at how the two would perform and what they have to offer as new vehicles.

Which brings us here today, a comparison of the 2014 models of the Grand Cherokee and Explorer for you to decide which one would make the best pre-owned (used is not acceptable anymore) SUV for you.

Changes

The Jeep Grand Cherokee took on a face lift for 2014 and gained some exterior updates. Adding to that, the inner workings have been boosted to add a new eight-speed automatic transmission and a 3.0-liter turbo diesel V6 engine. Add to that some interior upgrades and the Grand Cherokee keeps on pushing the competition to new limits.

The Ford Explorer did not have any major changes to the 2014 model, in fact it only boasted changes to add new standard automatic headlights and on the Limited models, standard heated seats for the second row.

Advantage: Jeep Grand Cherokee

Reliability

The J. D. Power score in the Power Circle for reliability gave the same exact store to both the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Ford Explorer, both earning three out of five circles for reliability. This actually means they are both average for reliability according to J. D. Power. Adding the warranty to the equation gave a bit of an advantage to the Grand Cherokee. The basic warranty for both vehicles is the same at three years, 36,000 miles but the powertrain warranty for the Grand Cherokee is five years or 100,000 miles with the Explorer only having a five year/60,000 mile warranty on its powertrain.

Advantage: Jeep Grand Cherokee

Fuel Economy

With a wide variety of engines being used and both vehicles offering two and four-wheel drive versions, the fuel economy can be a difficult equation to solve. The most popular engine for the 2014 Explorer is the 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 with the six-speed automatic transmission. The front-wheel drive version offers 17 city/24 hwy mpg and the all-wheel drive version shows up with 16 city/22 hwy mpg.

For the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the most popular engine is the290-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine attached to the eight-speed automatic transmission which brings in 17 city/25 hwy mpg for the front-wheel drive and 17 city/24 hwy mpg for the all-wheel drive model.

At the other end of the spectrum, the fuel saving model for each vehicle shows up with another engine. The Explorer offers a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 240-horsepower and is only offered in front-wheel drive. This engine shows up with a 20 city/28 hwy mpg fuel number. The Grand Cherokee has a 3.0-liter turbo diesel V6 engine that gives 240-horsepowe and offers 22 city/30 hwy mpg in front-wheel drive with the option for a four-wheel drive version that gives off 21 city/28 hwy mpg. Even though the edge is only slight, there is a clear advantage here as well.

Advantage: Jeep Grand Cherokee

Safety

With the knowledge families are turning to SUVs to be their cargo carrier, both Ford and Jeep have created exceptional safety in the Explorer and Grand Cherokee. Both vehicles offer side-curtain airbags, front-side airbags, anti-locking brakes, traction control, stability control, forward collision warning, rear cross traffic alerts, blind spot monitoring, a backup camera and parking assistance.

In addition to all the above mentioned features, the Explorer offers curve control to slow the vehicle down when entering a curve too quickly and the MyKey system which allows parents to program speed limits and radio volume limits for their teenage drivers. The Explorer even has inflatable rear seat belts to help reduce neck and chest injuries in a serious collision. Add to that, the Explorer ranked slightly higher than the Grand Cherokee in the crash tests. Neither vehicle is unsafe, but clearly there is a strong advantage here as well.

Advantage: Ford Explorer

Technology

This is truly a difficult comparison and feels almost like being at a tennis match. The two vehicles do offer many of the same features including adaptive cruise control, a power tailgate and many of the safety features mentioned above. Where the differentiation begins (and the proverbial tennis match) is the Explorer offering automatic high beams which are not available on the Grand Cherokee. But wait, the Grand Cherokee has a 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, which is much better than the 12-speaker Sony system in the Explorer. Going further, the Jeep has many more off roading features, but the Explorer is the better vehicle in regards to safety features.

One of the deciding factors for technology has to be the infotainment systems. The MyFord Touch is much improved over previous models, but does not come close to the Uconnect system in the Grand Cherokee. The 8.4-inch touchscreen found in the Jeep makes it one of the best in the business and is really easy to use and clearly shows the information on the screen to be easily understood which is very important while driving.

Advantage: Jeep Grand Cherokee

Value

Value is a tough component to judge. Both the Explorer and Grand Cherokee start at the same base price of $31,000 (when they were new) but the move up the ladder of options for the vehicles shows a distinct separation. The Explorer XLT starts under $34,000 with the Grand Cherokee Limited coming in at $37,500. The Explorer Limited shows up at $39,100 with the Grand Cherokee Overland coming in at $44,000. The Grand Cherokee even has one more level, called the Summit, which starts at $49,000 but has all features as standard fare.

It is only fair to note that while each model for the Jeep is more expensive it does come with many more features as standard options which would require the Explorer shopper to add these features to even come close to the Jeep. Another note is the fact the Grand Cherokee does not offer a third row of seating at all, which is standard on the Explorer, making the Explorer a better deal for families who need a vehicle that has the versatility a third row of seats offers.

As for engines, to gain that diesel engine that has the better fuel efficiency, shoppers have to pay an additional $4,500 to have this engine inside the vehicle, bringing the base price to a much higher point than the Explorer. Overall, the Grand Cherokee offers trim levels that are full of great features, but the Explorer makes it easy for a shopper to save money, or only add the features they desire.

Advantage: Ford Explorer

Final Thought

Both the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer are awesome vehicles and with this comparison, may be the decision on what to buy has become easier for you, or maybe more difficult. The reality is every shopper has their own feeling of what they want in a great vehicle and either one of these would make a great choice as your next SUV to take the family around and head off road for a little adventure.

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