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2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs 2020 Ford Explorer – Costa Mesa, CA

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  • 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee

    A dark grey 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee is angled left.

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    2020 Ford Explorer

    A grey 2020 Ford Explorer is angled right.

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    707Max Horsepower (HP)400
    645Max Torque (lb-ft)415
    7,200Max Towing Capacity (lbs)5,600

    Currently, in its fourth generation, the 2020 Grand Cherokee competes in a market saturated with high-tech SUVs. Its continued widespread popularity can be attributed to its steep power specs and towing capability, along with a good reputation for safety and reliability. Jeep has also made fuel efficiency a priority, each year building on the last. With plenty of competition out there, you may be wondering why you should choose the Jeep. So we are going to compare the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs 2020 Ford Explorer to prove that the Grand Cherokee is the superior model in its segment.

    The Jeep Grand Cherokee first made its debut back in 1983, eventually becoming the first Jeep vehicle with a Chrysler badge. Despite its early start, the Grand Cherokee didn’t get a big reveal until the 1992 North American Auto Show in Detroit because Chrysler put this SUV on the back-burner to focus on minivan production. Ultimately, the Grand Cherokee had the last laugh, with SUVs beating out minivans as the preferred family vehicle. Also released in the early 90s, the Ford Explorer is another mid-size SUV (now considered a crossover after 2011) that has evolved quite a bit over the past 30 years.

    The Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee have competed since their inception. The two American companies compete for the top spot in the cut-throat market of SUV manufacturing. With such a long history together, Jeep and Ford have a lot in common but maintain different priorities that set them apart. Reviewing the stats of both vehicles can give you an idea of what’s under the hood. Until you see them in person for a test drive, it can be tough to know with SUV is the best fit for you. But here are some insider details to help you get started on making your decision.

  • Performance

    A grey 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee is driving on a wet city street after winning the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs 2020 Ford Explorer comparison.

    Vehicle performance is another area where the Jeep Grand Cherokee has a distinct advantage over the Ford Explorer. At a minimum, you’ll get 295 hp from the Cherokee, but with the right engine option, you can get a whopping 707 hp. Compared to the Explorer’s max of 400 hp, the Grand Cherokee is in a league of its own. Maximum torque is also much greater in the Grand Cherokee’s higher trims with 645 lb-ft compared to just 415 lb-ft for the Explorer. But let's look at all of the engine options for each vehicle to paint a clearer picture of the Grand Cherokee's supremacy.

    The Grand Cherokee's Many Engines

    Drivers can choose from four engine options in the 2020 Grand Cherokee. The first is a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. This is the smallest engine in the line-up, and it produces 295 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. If you need more power than the impressive standard engine, next up is the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine that jumps to 360 hp and torque to 390 lb-ft. Third, in line is Jeep’s 6.4-liter SRT V8 engine with 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. This 8-speed automatic transmission is paired with five different driving modes, including Auto, Sport, Track, Snow, and Tow.

    Finally, the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s most impressive engine is the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine. Found in the Trackhawk, this beast gets up to 707 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque. Harnessing the strength of powder-forged connecting rods, sodium-cooled exhaust valves, and forged-alloy pistons, this engine will take your Grand Cherokee from 0-60 miles per hour in a mere 3.5 seconds. Hang on to your hats; this engine will take you for a ride.

    Exploring the Explorer's Engines

    The 2020 Explorer offers a few engine options, including a hybrid. There’s the 2.3-liter turbocharged, direct-injection Ti-variable control transmission EcoBoost I-4 with 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque to start. And to get the maximum 400 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque, you’ll want to opt for the slightly larger 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6. The Explorer also comes as a 3.3-liter hybrid.

    None of the Explorer’s engines are particularly powerful; however, the hybrid option is nice if you’re looking for maximum fuel efficiency. But comparing performance against performance, the Explorer does not even come close to the power of the Grand Cherokee.

  • Capability

    A white 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee is shown from above towing an Airstream on a road through the woods.

    When looking at vehicles such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Ford Explorer, you are likely hoping to find top-notch capabilities. After all, with larger vehicles, you should be able to confidently tow when you need to. The Grand Cherokee is immediately impressive, while the Explorer falls behind a bit. But let's look closer.

    How Much Can You Tow?

    When it comes to capability, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has a max towing capacity of 7,200 pounds. Clearly, the Cherokee is equipped to take on heavier loads than its competition as the Explorer tops out at a much lower 5,600 pounds. While the Ford Explorer’s pricing starts off as comparable, it doesn’t take much to significantly see the price go up, especially when you’re looking to max out its capability. Even paying top-dollar for an Explorer can’t guarantee the kind of power you’ll find in a Grand Cherokee.

    Also important to note is that even in choosing the smallest engine on the Jeep Grand Cherokee (the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6) still offers superior towing of 6,200 pounds when properly equipped. So no matter what, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has the superior capability.

  • Safety

    A red 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee is following a white one on a winding road next to the ocean near Costa Mesa, CA.

    You can depend on both the Grand Cherokee and Explorer to keep you safe, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Both vehicles earned a five out of five stars overall safety rating. However, the Grand Cherokee has had far fewer recalls than the Explorer, making it the more appealing choice. And if that's not enough, here's a little more information about safety.

    The Grand Cherokee’s 70+ Features

    The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee has over 70 safety and security features. Some come standard while others are found with the addition of ProTech packages. For example, Jeep’s standard ProTech Package I includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-path detection, ParkSense rear park assistance, and a ParkView back-up camera to improve visibility around your vehicle.

    Available on the Laredo E, Altitude, and Upland trims, the ProTech II Package builds on standard safety with the addition of forward collision warning with active braking, advance brake assist (to enhance stopping power during emergencies), and LaneSense lane departure warning with lane-keep assist to keep you alert if you begin to veer from your lane. The ProTech II Package also improves your visibility in poor driving conditions with automatic high-beam headlamps.

    Safety in the Ford

    Despite having quite a few recalls, the Ford Explorer does have a lot of safety features to choose from. Some of the available features to enhance your confidence in the Ford Explorer include a blind spot information system, rearview camera, lane-keeping assist system, automatic emergency braking, and automatic high-beam headlamps. All of these features come standard with the Ford Co-Pilot360, and additional add-ons can be found with an upgrade to the Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+.

    Ford offers quite a bit in its standard package to improve driver safety, and similar technology is available at a reasonable cost in the Grand Cherokee. After all, safety ultimately depends on the person behind the wheel. No driver safety aids can take the place of an attentive and cautious driver. Overall, in terms of safety, these vehicles are quite even. However, the Cherokee may be the better choice due to its lack of recalls.

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