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2021 Ford Explorer vs Jeep Grand Cherokee

2021 Ford Explorer vs Jeep Grand Cherokee

2021 Explorer vs Grand Cherokee - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

If you have an appetite for excitement and exploration it is likely any generic vehicle will not appease your driving desires. It takes a special kind of vehicle to be able to perform to the standards that are required of athletic-inspired jaunts. Not to mention, off-road navigation also requires certain levels of customization that are specific to this type of driving. The 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee do a good job of balancing off-road characteristics with basic driving skills. They incorporate features that make all-terrain travel easier and more comfortable, but they still maintain the characteristics that make them good for daily driving.

Each of the models approaches adventurous driving in a different way. For the 2021 Ford Explorer, multiple engine options are necessary to allow buyers to select the one that best matches their needs. For the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee, certain vehicle specifications are modified to match this vehicle's drive for off-road exploration. Though these SUV models approach rough terrain elements in a different way, each does so in a way that appeals to a specific type of buyer. If you are in search a vehicle that is big and bold, the 2021 Ford Explorer will do it for you. Yet, if you are in search of a more demure but athletic stature, the distinctive 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee fits the bill.

The ability of these two models to handle rough all-terrain travel is virtually where their similarities cease. Aside from being considered as mid-size SUVs, the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee are vastly different. Let us look at the variations between these two models that could affect buyer's preference for one over the other.


The Powertrain

Multiple powertrain options in a vehicle are always a benefit. It allows buyers to select the power production they will need without being frivolous and wasting extra money unnecessarily. Fortunately, buyers have a few engines to choose from in the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Three engine choices and a hybrid powertrain are present in the powertrain lineup of the 2021 Ford Explorer. The three most basic trims are equipped with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine, which gives this SUV an authoritative stance even in its base models. The next Explorer trim integrates a 3.0-liter V-6, while the sportier ST relies on a 400-horsepower version of the same engine setup. The 2021 Ford Explorer does a great job pairing different engine styles to match the typical use of each trim option. Still yet, for those who are interested in more sustainable driving a hybrid powertrain is also an option. The 2021 Ford Explorer hybrid consists of a 3.3-liter V-6 engine combined with an electric motor setup that can produce an impressive 318 horsepower.

In comparison, the 2021 Grand Cherokee has four powertrain options to select from. A sturdy V-6 leads the way for most trim levels, but a powerful array of V-8 engines emerges as available options in a few higher-level trims. The traditional 3.6-liter V-6 pairs well with the size of this second-row SUV. Yet, the capable V-8 selections provide a bit more power when it is needed. The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee offers a 5.7-liter, 6.2-liter, or 6.4-liter V-8 for buyers to evaluate. With so many capable engine options, it is no wonder why the Jeep Grand Cherokee can pull double duty as a daily driver and an all-terrain explorer with ease.

When it comes to purchasing a new vehicle, you want to ensure the option to go with has a flawless record of defects and is covered by warranties in the event of such a mishap. The 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee are both backed by three-year 36,000 mile limited warranties and five-year 60,000-mil powertrain warranties. Yet, they differ in the complimentary maintenance that is offered between each. While the 2021 Ford Explorer offers no complimentary maintenance, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee provides complimentary maintenance for three years.


Despite their similarity as mid-size SUVs, the ride quality of the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee is significantly different. The Ford Explorer does everything it can to keep passengers comfortable, even when it is towing up to its maximum of 5,600 pounds. Optional all-wheel drive helps blend in minor imperfections that can be felt throughout the cabin, and a 10-speed automatic transmission provides agreeable shifting. An agreeable ride and composed handling are a plus, but the drive of the Ford Explorer is not overly entertaining or exciting. In fact, the additional power and stiffer suspension of the 2021 Ford Explorer can make its ride quality seem a bit rigid at times.

Though it is useful and rugged, the ride quality of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee falls short from what is offered by the Ford Explorer. It can haul more with its maximum capacity of 7,200 pounds with its V-8, but the Jeep Grand Cherokee lacks the ability to soak up jolts that send vibrations throughout its cabin. This SUV's hefty demeanor combined with subpar suspension leads to a rather unrefined and rustic ride, especially with a trailer in tow. Yet, this downfall is something Jeep enthusiasts are often willing to overlook. The tradeoff of a rougher ride for the amenities this off-road savvy SUV has to offer is work it for some.

Made for daily driving, these models incorporate durable materials that are practical and good-looking into their interior design. The bold, athletic style of the 2021 Ford Explorer meshes well with this SUV's spunky style, yet its third-row layout brings it back down the level of family-friendly reality. It may incorporate a third seat and accessing is now easier than ever, but the space for passengers in this area is limited. Few adults would aspire to sit in the third-row of the Ford Explorer. The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee incorporates two rows of seats into its design, but it places it focus on quality materials that are durable. The perfect mix of soft touch accents and utilitarian features show this vehicle's preference for off-road fun. Easy to clean and fun to show off, the interior of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee embodies practicality for families who need it.

Buying Tip:

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Safety on and off the road are major concerns for adventure enthusiasts. Unfortunately, only one of these models holds up that standard. The 2021 Ford Explorer reigns supreme in safety implementation and crashworthiness, while the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee performs worse than we would assume in crash testing efforts. The Ford Explorer performed so well in crash tests that it earned a five-stay safety rating from the NHTSA. Though it did not score a Top Safety Pick accolade for its disappointing front-overlap crash tests, it still maintains the honorary rating from the former agency. However, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee performed so poorly in its crash testing that it did not receive an award. We hope this is remedied in model years to come.

The availability of safety features for each of these models is also quite contrasting. The 2021 Ford Explorer offers many of its modern safety amenities as standard across all models. Features like forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist can be found as standard amenities for most trims. However, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee considers its safety enhancements to be exclusive and makes nearly all of them available as upgrades. Instead of including them as standard, buyers must opt for the safety features they want in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. This is somewhat disappointing to buyers in search of a family-friendly vehicle with ample safety implements.

Which Has the Best Value?

The value of a vehicle varies based upon and needs and expectations of every buyer. Yet, there are a few concepts that should be considered across the board, as they remain a substantial consideration in ascertaining the value of every model. The new cost of a vehicle makes a big impact on buyers, because if they cannot afford a model, they will not even begin to evaluate it. The 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee are affordable, but they certainly are not cheap. Perfect for middle-class buyers, the base model options for these SUVs start out mid-level and go up from there.

It is not just the initial cost of these models that should be considered. The available trim levels and cost of ownership also play a role in the perceived value of a vehicle. We do not see any issues with component availability, the cost of repair, and number of repair shops available for the maintenance and servicing of either of these models. Service and repair for the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee is quite affordable and easily attainable.

Yet, the number of models offered between these two SUVs and the features they encompass is where they really begin to stand out from one another. The 2021 Ford Explorer offers seven trim levels, which is expanded to nine options with the addition of two hybrid configurations. Six trim levels are offered for the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which expand to eleven total options when the L trim is figured in. Each of these SUVs offers so many variations that it can hard to measure them up against one another. However, if we had to choose, the 2021 Ford Explorer would exude the best value because of its well-rounded and cohesive features.

Which is Better?

Every single vehicle has its own attributes that make it unique from the rest. These are the concepts and features that should be taken into consideration when comparing them to other models. If we were evaluating two similar models, we would want to ensure elements like the powertrain, safety features, comfort, and quality are measured apples to apples. This is easy to do in the comparison between the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee is an exceptional off-road warrior. From a brand that is notorious for their practical style and utilitarian look, the Grand Cherokee fits right in. It offers multiple powertrain options that are perfect for buyers who want to personalize their driving experience. However, not everything about the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee is enticing. In fact, the lack of standard safety features is one of the concerns we would have in selecting this model as the better option.

Moving on, the 2021 Ford Explorer has it all. It offers multiple engines to choose from, a hybrid configuration, a plethora of standard safety features, and tech-savvy amenities. The 2021 Ford Explorer is rather straightforward, but it hits all our points to consider in the evaluation of a new model. Exceling in more areas than the Jeep Grand Cherokee can, we would pick the 2021 Ford Explorer as being the better option between these two any day.

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