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Ford Benchmarking Jeep Grand Cherokee L: Exclusive

Competition within the three-row, large crossover segment – which the Ford Explorer has dominated for the past several years – is ramping up as rival automakers introduce new entires into the space. The segment first expanded with the arrival of the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride duo, followed by Jeep’s recent introduction of the all-new Grand Cherokee L.

Historically, the Grand Cherokee has only been available as a two-row midsize utility vehicle, one that is more in the purview of the Ford Edge. But with the onset of the Grand Cherokee L, Jeep now fields a three-row version as a direct rival to the Ford Explorer – something The Blue Oval isn’t taking lightly. In fact, Ford Authority has exclusively learned that FoMoCo is currently in possession of a Grand Jeep Cherokee L for testing and benchmarking purposes.

We spotted the Grand Cherokee L in question leaving a Ford R&D facility. The model, coated in white paint and equipped in the Limited trim level, is wearing Michigan manufacturer plates as well as a yellow sticker on the rear window, the latter of which is used by Ford to keep track of its internal vehicle inventory.

The new Grand Cherokee is offered with two naturally aspirated gasoline engines, starting with the Pentastar 3.6L V6, rated at 290 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque. The Hemi 5.7L V8, good for 357 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque, is optional on higher trims. Both powertrains are carryovers from the last-generation model. Both motors are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

In contrast, the Ford Explorer offers three engine options, starting with the 2.3L EcoBoost rated at 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque for the Base, XLT, and Limited models. The 3.3L Hybrid is rated at 318 horsepower and 322 pound-feet of torque for the Limited Hybrid model, while the ST and Platinum are equipped with the 3.0L EcoBoost. In the ST, the boosted six is rated at 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, and 365 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque in the Platinum.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is currently outselling most of its direct rivals, moving a whopping 75,117 units during the first quarter of 2022. The Toyota Highlander recorded 66,026 units during the same timeframe, while the Ford Explorer placed third with 42,736 units while the Ford Edge came fourth with 26,412 units.

Sales Numbers - Midsize & Full-Size Mainstream Crossovers - Q1 2022 - USA

MODEL Q1 22 / Q1 21 Q1 22 Q1 21 Q1 22 SHARE Q1 21 SHARE
JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE +36.09% 75,117 55,198 16% 10%
TOYOTA HIGHLANDER +3.44% 66,026 63,831 14% 12%
FORD EXPLORER -34.50% 42,736 65,244 9% 12%
FORD EDGE +19.24% 26,412 22,150 6% 4%
HYUNDAI SANTA FE -10.46% 25,582 28,570 5% 5%
HONDA PILOT -23.73% 23,989 31,451 5% 6%
CHEVROLET TRAVERSE -38.31% 23,464 38,037 5% 7%
KIA TELLURIDE +1.02% 22,076 21,854 5% 4%
HYUNDAI PALISADE -0.86% 21,025 21,207 4% 4%
CHEVROLET BLAZER -2.37% 18,808 19,265 4% 4%
KIA SORENTO -9.13% 17,923 19,724 4% 4%
VOLKSWAGEN ATLAS -51.72% 14,734 30,520 3% 6%
SUBARU ASCENT +1.55% 14,698 14,473 3% 3%
DODGE DURANGO -30.21% 14,349 20,560 3% 4%
MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER +218.19% 13,065 4,106 3% 1%
TOYOTA VENZA -20.46% 10,836 13,623 2% 3%
HONDA PASSPORT -9.78% 10,474 11,610 2% 2%
MAZDA CX-9 +11.47% 10,463 9,386 2% 2%
NISSAN MURANO -18.40% 9,403 11,523 2% 2%
GMC ACADIA -53.22% 9,336 19,956 2% 4%
NISSAN PATHFINDER +0.79% 8,975 8,905 2% 2%
TOTAL -9.73% 479,491 531,193

Note that Grand Cherokee sales now include the two-row model as well as the new three-row Grand Cherokee L. For a more apples-to-apples comparison, it’s best to combine sales of the Edge (a two-row crossover) and Explorer (a three-row crossover), and set them against those of the Grand Cherokee. Doing so gives Ford 69,148 deliveries, only 5,969 units behind the Grand Cherokee.

Sales Numbers - Explorer & Edge - Q1 2022 - USA

MODEL Q1 22 / Q1 21 Q1 22 Q1 21 Q1 22 SHARE Q1 21 SHARE
JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE +36.09% 75,117 55,198 52% 39%
FORD EXPLORER -34.50% 42,736 65,244 30% 46%
FORD EDGE +19.24% 26,412 22,150 18% 16%
TOTAL +1.17% 144,265 142,592

One reason for the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s lead in sales volume might be because it’s newer than the Explorer, and can therefore seem more attractive to consumers. However, there’s potential for Ford to remedy this by refreshing the Explorer, thereby making it more modern and competitive.

Currently, it’s unclear when the Explorer will receive a refresh, but it’s feasible that it will be for the 2023 model year since the automaker recently teased the refreshed Chinese Explorer. Similarly, the start of production for the U.S.-market 2023 Explorer was pushed back to a later date, enabling more time for a refresh to occur. If the Explorer does not get freshened for the 2023 model year, then the updates will certainly arrive for the 2024 model year instead.

Refreshed Chinese Ford Explorer

In fact, the updates to the Chinese-market Explorer look quite promising, but it’s currently unclear if the North American model will get the same changes and updates.

We’ll continue reporting on the latest Ford and Lincoln competitors, so be sure to subscribe to Ford Authority for Ford Explorer news and continuous Ford news coverage.

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Comment

  1. Mf

    Ford can learn a lot from Grand Cherokee L. How to use a robust enough transmission for moderate towing (5600 pounds ain’t enough, 6000 in GC or Pathfinder is a big difference to us with boats). They could learn how to build an interior that fits together, and how to do a large screen infotainment that works well.

    Honestly, the only advantage explorer has right now is value in the ST model. If you’re not buying an ST, the Jeep is just better.

    If the srt model comes out as a turbo i6 with the phev drive train attached… Ford will be totally outclassed.

    Reply

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