2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Ford Explorer: Here Is Our Verdict

By Max Anthony •  Updated: 03/11/21 •  4 min read

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer are often compared because they’re American midsize SUVs that are designed well, and are family friendly. While the Grand Cherokee is a better off-roader, the Explorer offers a hybrid version as well; so, let’s compare them:

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2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Ford Explorer:

 Engine and Performance

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee annihilates the Ford Explorer in this comparison. Even the civilized Grand Cherokee models have great powertrains such as 365 and 475hp V8s. The Trackhawk trim has a 707hp supercharged V8. 

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Ford Explorer
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland rear 3/4 | FCA

The Explorer, while not at the Cherokee’s level, is still good; its base engine is a 300hp four-cylinder turbo, and you can also have one of two optional twin-turbo V6s, which produce 365 and 400hp respectively.

Interior

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a modern and upscale interior design, with high-quality materials used no matter the trim. In comparison, the 2021 Explorer’s interior is designed well, but still has more hard plastics than the Jeep. Clothed seats are offered on both, and leather upholstery, heated seats, and ventilated seats up front, are available on the upper trims.

Cherokee vs. Ford Explorer
2021 Ford Explorer Platinum front interior | Ford

The Ford Explorer and Grand Cherokee have standard infotainment system, automatic climate control, satellite radio, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and several USB ports. Wi-Fi hot spot capability is also standard with the Explorer, and better infotainment is available in both.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Ford Explorer
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve front interior | FCA
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Ford Explorer Comparison: Ride and Comfort

The Explorer handles well and is comfortable. It has a good steering response and feels athletic, but has some body roll on bends.

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In comparison, the Grand Cherokee is more responsive and stable at lower speeds, with its firmer suspension (air suspension is optional) and a good steering. At higher speeds, it is not as responsive though. It offers comfort as well.

 Passenger and Cargo Space

The 2021 Ford Explorer has spacious and comfortable seats up front but the back seats disappoint. Comparing the Grand Cherokee, you get roomier and more supportive seats but with no third row available, as it will be sold later this year. 18.2 cubic feet of storage, expandable to 87.9 is available in the Explorer, which is better than most of its rivals. The Grand Cherokee has 36.3 cubic feet, upgradable to 68.3.

Safety and Fuel Economy

The 2021 Ford Explorer’s safety features include pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and lane keep assist. The NHTSA gave both the 2021 Explorer ad the 2021 Grand Cherokee (4WD models) an overall safety rating of five out of five stars.

The IIHS awarded the 2021 Explorer a TSP+, and the 2021 Grand Cherokee ‘Good’. However, the Jeep received the second lowest rating of ‘Marginal’ for driver-side small frontal overlap crashes and the worst rating of Poor for the passenger-side small frontal overlap test.

The base four-cylinder turbo 2021 Explorer will give 21mpg city and 28mpg highway. The RWD hybrid model gives 27mpg city and 29mpg highway, and the AWD gives 24 and 25mpg, respectively.

The Grand Cherokee returns 19mpg city and 26mpg highway with the RWD V6. The SRT and Trackhawk give 13/19 mpg city/highway and 11/17 mpg city/highway, respectively.

Price and Warranty

The base Explorer is cheaper at $32,225 in comparison with the Grand Cherokee’s starter costing $34,200. The top starting prices are $59,000 for the Explorer Platinum and $87,895 for the Trackhawk. 

Both the mid-sized SUVs have a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, with a 3-year complimentary maintenance in the Jeep.

Verdict

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Explorer gives more standard safety features, a better fuel economy, more cargo space, and a third row. But the Grand Cherokee has better performance, comfort, a nicer interior, and a better infotainment system. 

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Max Anthony

Max is a gizmo-savvy guy, who has a tendency to get pulled into the nitty gritty details of technology and cars. He attended UT Austin, where he studied Information Science. He’s married and has three kids, one dog and a GMC truck and a Porsche 911. With a large family, he still finds time to share tips and tricks on cars, trucks and more.