2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L vs. 2021 Ford Explorer Comparison

By adding a third row, the all-new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is better equipped to take on the 2021 Ford Explorer. This is how they compare.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Starting price: 36 995 $ | Your price or See lists near you

Above average: Ritzy interior; excellent security suite; V6 or V8 engines; Towing capacity of 7,200 pounds.

Below average: V8’s fuel economy; the third row of seats is just OK; less cargo space than some competitors.

Consensus: The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L extends the Grand Cherokee to make room for the model’s first seat in the third row ever. The redesign also provides a technically charged new interior and exclusive finishes along with matching pricing.

2021 Ford Explorer

2021 Ford Explorer

2021 Ford Explorer Starting price: 32 925 $ | Your price or See lists near you

Above average: Three engine offerings; performance ST versions; available hybrid; polished driving style.

Below average: Most versions only have room for six; hard plastic surfaces; expensive top lists.

Consensus: 2021 The Ford Explorer has a wider bandwidth than ever with a new Timberline terrain variant, two sporty ST variants and a luxurious King Ranch. The powertrain includes an economical hybrid and a powerful twin-turbo V6.

Grand Cherokee L vs. Explorer: New rivalry

Jeep Grand Cherokee L

Jeep has added third-row seats to the Grand Cherokee and created the new Grand Cherokee L. It is 15.1 inches longer than the regular Grand Cherokee and runs on a 7-inch longer wheelbase – but is still smaller than the upcoming Jeep Wagoneer. The exclusive cabin has six or seven seats with the second row bench as an option. The second row is spacious, the third is passable. The cargo space is 17.2 cubic feet behind the third row, and is expanded to 84.6 with all seats folded.

Standard is the Chrysler 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with 293 horsepower, along with an 8-speed automatic and rear or four-wheel drive. A 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 357 hp is optional only on the top model and increases the towing capacity from 6,200 to 7,200 pounds. EPA combined fuel economy is 21 mpg for V6 and 17 mpg for V8.

Grand Cherokee L offers three different 4WD systems. The available Quadra-lift air suspension can raise the ride height up to 4.2 inches (for a maximum of 10.2 inches of ground clearance), and an all-terrain package includes an electronic differential with limited sliding and sliding plates.

Jeep offers the Grand Cherokee L in the trim levels Laredo, Altitude, Limited, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve. A 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster is standard, and the central touch screen has an 8.4-inch or 10.1-inch screen with Apple CarPlay / Android Auto wireless. Leather is available on all but the base model. Heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and an electric tailgate are optional on the Laredo and standard elsewhere.

The upper upholstery offers an all-terrain camera, a 360-degree camera system, a rear-view camera mirror, a head-up display, night vision, real wood upholstery, massage chairs and a 19-speaker McIntosh sound system. Standard driver assistance includes adaptive cruise control (with lane centering for Summit), forward collision warning with automatic emergency brake and lane change warning.

Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is a spacious mid-size SUV, although seating is a 2-2-2 configuration in all but the base (which gets a 3-passenger center bench). The luggage space behind the third row is 18.2 cubic feet, expandable to 87.8 cubic feet.

The base 2.3-liter turbo 4-cylinder is economical and has enough grunts with 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft. The upgrade options are a 322-hp V6 hybrid and a twin-turbo V6 with 365 or 400 horsepower (in Platinum and ST respectively). AWD is standard with turbo V6 and optional with the others. The RWD hybrid is the most fuel efficient at 28 mpg combined; twin-turbo V6 is at least 20 mpg. Explorer can tow up to 5,600 pounds.

The latest generation Explorer offers a more first-class driving experience, and the sporty ST is a credible high-performance SUV. The base, XLT, Timberline and Limited get 2.3-liters, with Limited and Platinum also available with the hybrid driveline.

The twin-turbo V6 drives the ST, King Ranch and Platinum, which also get a digital instrument cluster and offer the option of a 14-speaker, 980-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system and a 10.1-inch vertical touch screen.

An 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and Wi-Fi is standard, along with forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane keeping assistance, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic warning. The upper upholstery offers adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane centering, an electrically foldable third row, a panoramic sunroof, leather, a 360-degree camera and more.

Similarities

Seating for 6 or 7, expensive top details.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L benefits

Greater traction capacity; terrain ability; ultra-luxury furnishings; available V8 power.

2021 Ford Explorers benefits

Basturbo I4 engine more powerful and economical than Jeeps V6; high-performance ST model; available hybrid; lower starting price.

Which is right for me?

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L combines its luxurious off-road package with the benefits of a 3-row SUV. With V8 power as an option, it is well suited for towing heavy trailers.

The Ford Explorer can be a family SUV, a high-performance SUV or even a fairly economical hybrid. It also plants a flag in the terrain and luxury spheres.

Are you ready to buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee L or a Ford Explorer? Shop for one on sale now you

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L 2021 Ford Explorer
Popular drivelines
Engine 3.6-liter V6 2.3-liter turbo I4
Horsepower 293 hp at 6,400 rpm 300 hp at 5,500 rpm
Torque 260 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm 310 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
Transfer 8-spd automatically 10-spd automatically
Fuel economy 21 mpg (19 city / 26 hwy) 24 mpg (21 city / 28 hwy)
Also available 5.7L V8; AWD 3.0-liter turbo V6; 3.3-liter V6 hybrid; AWD
Specifications
Guarantee 3 years / 36,000 miles 3 years / 36,000 miles
Warranty for the driveline 5 years / 60,000 miles 5 years / 60,000 miles
NHTSA overall security n / a 5 stars
Maximum seating capacity 7 7
Wheelbase 121.7 inches 119.1 inches
Total length 204.9 inches 198.8 inches
Width 77.3 inches 78.9 inches
Height 71.5 inches 69.9 inches
Twisting diameter 38.3 feet n / a
Standing height, front 39.8 inches 40.7 inches
Standing height, 2nd row 39.9 inches 40.5 inches
Standing height, 3rd row 37.3 inches 38.9 inches
Legroom, front 41.3 inches 43.0 inches
Legroom, 2nd row 39.4 inches 39.0 inches
Legroom, 3rd row 30.3 inches 32.2 inches
Shoulder space, front 59.2 inches 61.8 inches
Shoulder space, 2nd row 58.0 inches 61.9 inches
Shoulder space, 3rd row 51.9 inches 54.6 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 159.1 cubic feet 152.7 cubic feet
EPA load volume 84.6 cubic feet 87.8 cubic feet

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