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Jeep Cherokee vs Grand Cherokee

A collage photo comparison og Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

When considering purchasing an SUV, the first question is, what will you do with it? If you want to get off-road, you need a Jeep Cherokee or Grand Cherokee with 4×4 and the ground clearance necessary to ford creeks and roll over rocks. 

Both the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee meet these requirements. However, the Grand Cherokee has the towing capacity to pull up to 6200 pounds when properly equipped. That is enough towing power to bring along a good-sized travel trailer or boat.

The Grand Cherokee also offers a third-row seat, which means you can take more people with you on your adventures. If you need cargo space more than passenger space, the Grand Cherokee has you covered there, too.

Jeep Cherokee models, powertrains, and performance

The Jeep Cherokee is available in four trim levels. They are the Jeep Cherokee X, the Latitude Lux (the only model available with front-wheel drive), or you can get it as a 4X4.

Power for all models of the Jeep Cherokee comes from a 3.2-liter V6 that produces 271 horsepower. The nine-speed automatic transmission sends power to all four-wheel wheels on 4X4 models. Jeep has spent many years developing its four-wheel drive system, and it shows, especially on the trail. 

The seating capacity of the Jeep Cherokee is five, and the maximum cargo capacity is 54.7 cubic feet. In addition, it has a payload capacity of 1000 pounds and a towing capacity of 2000 pounds.

This weight is well shy of the towing capacity of the Grand Cherokee. However, not everyone needs to pull a 25-foot travel trailer or boat. Nor does everyone need a seven-passenger mid-sized SUV.

The estimated fuel mileage of the Cherokee X is 19 city/ 27 highway and 22 combined miles per gallon. The Jeep Latitude, with FWD, does a little better and returns 20 City/ 29 Highway and 23 combined miles per gallon. The run from zero to 60 miles per hour takes the Jeep Cherokee in a leisurely 8.1 seconds.

Jeep Grand Cherokee models, powertrains, and performance

New Jeep Grand Cherokee L in a maroon colorway spotted parking at the mountain top with mountains on the background.

There are seven models of the mid-sized Jeep Grand Cherokee. Every model, except for the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk® 4X4, is fitted with bucket seats in the second-row position of your Jeep and a third-row bench seat.

The Grand Trailhawk®, however, has a second-row bench seat, and a 3rd-row seat is not an option on this model. As one of the few seven-seat SUVs, the Grand Cherokee fits a particular niche.

Standard power for the Jeep Grand Cherokee is from a 3.6-liter Pentastar® V6 that produces 290 horsepower. This is the only power available in five of the seven Jeep Grand Cherokee models.

The Grand Cherokee Trailhawk® and the Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve can be equipped with a 5.7-liter HEMI® V8 that produces 360 horsepower and 390-pound feet of torque. This engine will give you ample power for passengers, and a load, with plenty of power to pull a travel trailer or boat.

The zero to 60 miles per hour time for the Jeep Grand Cherokee V6 is 8.3 seconds. When equipped with the V8, that time drops to about 7.5 seconds. However, the added torque of the V8 will give you ample pulling power when towing a trailer.

How is the Jeep Cherokee different than the Jeep Grand Cherokee?

Front and side view of black jeep cherokee on the parking lot.

The Jeep Cherokee is a compact SUV, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee is a mid-sized utility vehicle. They have different seating and towing capacities, and the Grand Cherokee has two models that can have the HEMI® 5.7-liter V8 dropped under the hood.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee can carry a heavier load, more passengers, and tow more than the Jeep Cherokee. The Jeep Cherokee, however, gets better fuel mileage than the Grand Cherokee equipped with the 3.9-liter V6 or the 5.7-liter V8.

So, based on price and features, what do you need from an SUV? Although the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee are formed from a similar mold, the larger Jeep offers more space at a price. The smaller Jeep Cherokee is easier to park and less expensive to operate.

History of the Jeep Cherokee

The first Jeep Cherokee was introduced in 1974 as a full-size SUV and was built until 1983. The Jeep Cherokee model was a rebadged Jeep Wagoneer, and the designers claimed it was a sportier version of the wagoner. However, the original Jeep Cherokee remained a two-door SUV and stayed that way until 1977, when Jeep introduced a four-door model.

The third generation of the Jeep Cherokee has rebadged the Liberty and was sold by Jeep from 2002 to 2013. It was the smallest Jeep in their lineup of SUVs and remained so until they introduced the Compass and the Patriot.

At this time, the Jeep Liberty/Cherokee had only a four-cylinder engine, but with the introduction of the two smaller SUVs, they powered the Cherokee with a V6 and dropped the smaller engines from the line.

In its fifth generation of development, the changes in the Jeep Cherokee are evident from the early models. It no longer uses a body on frame construction and instead has a unibody that gives it better handling characteristics than earlier models of the Jeep Cherokee.

History of the Jeep Grand Cherokee

The classic first model of Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The mid-sized Jeep Grand Cherokee has been sold since 1992. However, its lineage goes back to 1983 when American Motor Corporation, AMC, designed a model to replace the Jeep XJ model.

Launched in 1982 as a 1983 model, the Jeep Grand Cherokee was the first Jeep to be badged as a Chrysler after they bought AMC in 1987. The first generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee went to market in 1993.

In its fourth generation, the Jeep Grand Cherokee added the power of the 5.7-liter HEMI®. In addition, the Chrysler Grand Cherokee also received the option of three four-wheel-drive systems and powerplants.

The fifth generation introduced in 2021 is the three L models. These models have a longer wheelbase and more cargo room than the standard Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The price range of the Jeep Cherokee

The price range of the four Jeep Cherokee begins at a starting MSRP of $34,895 for the entry-level Jeep Cherokee X model that features 4X4 standard. The top-priced model is the Jeep Cherokee Limited, which includes a 4X4 system, and has a starting MSRP of $39,345.

The smaller Jeep Cherokee has a lot of competition in the realm of compact SUVs; however, some are priced lower, and some are higher. In addition, you will find that many of them are four-cylinder-powered vehicles and lack the Jeep’s reputation and off-road capabilities.

Jeep has a deep history and is one of the first all-wheel drives ever put on the road that wasn’t a work truck. For the price, it is worth a look and a test drive.

The price range of the Jeep Grand Cherokee

This is a black Jeep Cherokee on display at a car show.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a little pricier than the smaller Jeep Cherokee. The base model is a 4X2 with a starting MSRP of $40,720. The Jeep Cherokee Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve 4X4 has a starting MSRP of $67,175 before a Hemi® is dropped under the hood.

Jeep has several packages that can be added to the two upper-level Jeep Grand Cherokee models, giving it a persona that suits you. However, they will also add to the cost of your Jeep.

Design features and specs

The L model of three Jeep Grand Cherokee models is a stretched version that offers more space for seating and cargo space. However, this lengthened stance is a feature that is not available on the Jeep Cherokee.

Jeep offers three all-wheel drive systems, and Quadra Trac is the most common system. However, they are paired with the models based on how you intend to use your Jeep. For example, some Jeep models have modifications that make them more off-road ready than the models you want to drive around town.

Both models have ample cargo space, but the larger Jeep Grand Cherokee has more cargo space and luxurious features. For example, the second-row captain’s seats make getting in and out easier and provide more comfort for your passengers.

Some models have standardized large screen infotainment systems, upgraded speaker systems, and safety features such as lane departure warnings and active cruise control.

Durability/ reliability of the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee

A white jeep cherokee parked outside.

The Jeep Cherokee has a very high-reliability rating; however, the Jeep Grand Cherokee seems to have more problems cropping up. The Jeep Cherokee will depreciate about 37 percent in the first five years, which means it has an excellent resale value.

Some earlier models of the Jeep Cherokee had transmission problems, but the 2022 models don’t seem to be plagued with that problem yet. But, of course, as with any vehicle, the longer you drive one, the closer you get to a repair problem.

The reputation of the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee

Although its fuel mileage may not be as good as its competitors, only Jeep can claim that their vehicles are the most off-road ready SUVs out of the box, that is, on the road.

Until recently, Jeep had maintained the old worm and roller steering systems that did not provide the rack and pinion or electric steering responsiveness. This addition has given the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee better road manners.

Similarities between the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee

Side view angle of the 2022 model of Jeep Grand Cherokee in white colorway parked outdoors at the Stellantis Dealership.

The smaller Jeep Cherokee has design cues similar to the larger Grand Cherokee. However, it is smaller, lighter, and doesn’t have the cargo or passenger capacity of the Grand Cherokee.

Adding the Grand Cherokee L is exclusive to this Jeep model. However, it is a great feature that makes the Grand Cherokee more like other SUVs that have used lengthened bodies in their vehicles. 

Other than size, the interior layouts, including infotainment systems and other features, are similar, as they are in all Chrysler vehicles. In addition, although they have entirely different engines, the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee perform very much alike. 

However, the Jeep Cherokee will be less expensive to purchase, easier to park, and gets better fuel mileage than the Jeep Grand Cherokee does. But, again, it comes down to what you need, what you want, and what you can afford.