Jeep’s Cherokee and Grand Cherokee labels have been at the forefront of top SUVs since their inception. Their launch and development through the years practically spawned the crossover movement in the late ’90s and early 2000s. But are these two one and the same vehicle?
What is the difference between Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee? Those new to the riding and Jeep communities may not see any disparity between a Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee except for the name. However, several factors set these two apart — price point, trim packages, tech and safety features, and off-roading capabilities.
Nowadays, Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee attributes are no longer as clear-cut as when they debuted. That is all thanks to continued advancements in automotive technology and design. While overlapping characteristics are not a bad thing, it pays to know the differences between these vehicles — especially when contemplating making your next big purchase.
Grand Cherokee vs Cherokee Face-Off
SUVs or Sport/Suburban Utility Vehicles are divided into six sub-categories:
- Small/Compact (originally used as terrain reconnaissance vehicles)
- Extended Length or LWB
- Crossover SUVs
Herein lies the 1st main difference between the two Jeep SUVs. Of these classifications, the Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Grand Cherokee series fit 4 of 6.
Categorically a crossover, the Jeep Cherokee was previously marketed as a full-size SUV until 1983 and can now be classified as a mid-size SUV. In like manner, the Jeep Grand Cherokee can now be grouped under full-size or LWB SUVs when originally, Jeep launched it as a mid-size offering.
Although they share the same DNA, the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee models evidently fall on different parts of the SUV spectrum. Jeep Cherokees have a passenger-car platform, offer better ride comfort, and are generally more diminutive.
Meanwhile, Jeep Grand Cherokees stay truer to their pickup truck roots and are typically available in long-bodied versions. A perfect example of this is the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L.
The 2nd difference between the Cherokees is in their dimensions or measurements (already made apparent by the categories they fall under).
There is not really a huge gap between the two in terms of vehicle width and height. However, the reverse is true for the length of their chassis.
Between mid-size and full-size Jeep SUVs, there is at least a 10-inch difference in their wheelbase. The gap is roughly the same in terms of width and length. But if you compare a base Jeep Cherokee to a Jeep Grand Cherokee LWB model, the disparity in vehicle length increases by 5 inches.
Others may deem the gap inconsequential as it is less than a ruler’s length. However, those few inches greatly matter in improving cabin space and overall rider/passenger comfort.
Below is a quick reference to the dimensions of a Jeep Cherokee vs. Grand Cherokee (values cover from debut to current-year models):
|Parameter||Jeep Cherokee||Jeep Grand Cherokee|
|Length||182—186.4 inches||176.7—204.9 inches|
|Width||73.2—74.8 inches||69.2—84.6 inches|
|Height||66.2—66.4 inches||64.9—71.5 inches|
|Wheelbase||106.3—108.7 inches||105.9—121.7 inches|
When the Jeep Cherokee SJ was launched in 1974, it was equipped with a 4.2-L AMC Inline-6 engine offering 110 hp (112 PS, 82 kW). Meanwhile, the 5th gen Cherokee KL was fitted with a 2.0-L Fiat Multijet power mill spewing 168 hp (170 PS, 125 kW) — later upgraded to Chrysler’s 2.4-L Tigershark Inline-4 engine producing 184 hp (187 PS, 138 kW).
Throughout its many generations, the Cherokee powerplant changed from an I6 AMC to a dual-barrel V8 to a Zeitgeist/Peugeot turbo diesel — until it settled on its current 271-hp 3.2-L V6.
As for the Jeep Grand Cherokee, its 1st gen ZJ series received the 4.0-L AMC Straight-6 engine that offered 190 hp (193 PS, 142 kW). The label also underwent several powertrain changes until it settled on its current 3.6-L Pentastar V6 power mill.
But unlike the Cherokee, the Grand Cherokee’s current engine is not the most powerful. If anything, its 2022 powerplant will pale in comparison to the following:
- 5.7-L Hemi V8 engine rated at 357 hp (362 PS, 266 kW), used in 3rd gen Grand Cherokee Laredo X, Limited, and Overland and optional on 2022 trims
- 6.1-L Hemi V8 engine rated at 420 hp (426 PS, 313 kW), used in 3rd gen Grand Cherokee SRT8
- 6.2-L supercharged Hemi V8 engine rated at 707 hp (717 PS, 527 kW), used in 4th gen Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and SRT
SUVs are great vehicle options if you want guaranteed rider comfort. However, not all SUVs are created equal — and the same can be said for Jeep offerings.
Between the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee models, the latter offers more substantial cargo and passenger volume. It also provides more wiggle room for passengers, front and rear.
Although both Cherokees have a 60-40 split-folding rear seat feature, the Grand Cherokee still provides greater maximum cargo volume versus its slightly smaller sibling. That means adventurers and families get to enjoy more usable space for camping gear, bulky equipment, and your favorite SwissGear luggage (view on Amazon).
|Parameter||Jeep Cherokee||Jeep Grand Cherokee|
|Max. Interior Cargo Volume||54.7 cu. ft.||70.8 cu. ft.|
|Legroom (F/R)||41.1 / 40.3 inches||41.3 / 38.2 inches|
|Headroom (F/R)||39.4 / 38.5 inches||39.9 / 39.4 inches|
|Hiproom (F/R)||53.8 / 49.9 inches||57.4 / 56.3 inches|
|Shoulder Room (F/R)||57.6 / 55.1 inches||59.2 / 58 inches|
|Passenger Volume||128 cu. ft.||145 cu. ft.|
Between the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, both Jeep SUVs are currently on par with each other in tech add-ons and safety features. However, this was not the case during their respective debuts.
It was not until the mid-2000s that the Grand Cherokee label offered the earliest version of the UConnect® infotainment suite. The 4th and 5th generations of the Jeep Cherokee followed suit a few years after.
Currently, both SUVs have the UConnect® 5 system, which includes the following:
- SiriusXM Guardian™ — SiriusXM-powered feature that allows Cherokee owners to lock doors, access vehicle information, and start the car remotely with push-button ease
- UConnectR 4C/5C NAV — a tech feature that provides remote access to security alerts, navigation, and roadside assistance (among others) and remote control of your vehicle and can be utilized via touchscreen or app
- In-car Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless connectivity (complimentary for three months)
- HD RADIO™ — access to digital signals transmitted over traditional radio frequencies
- Amazon Fire TV — rear-seat entertainment intended for streaming videos, playing games, or downloading shows, the content of which can be synced across both rear screens or played individually
Although the Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Grand Cherokee share these features, only the latter offers the UConnectR 5C NAV. This means the label gets to have a 10-1-inch touchscreen instead of 8.4 inches.
Additionally, the Grand Cherokee has a front passenger screen equipped with some of the key functions of the main touchscreen and the rear passenger displays.
Both Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees have the Trailhawk package under their wing. However, it seems to be more synonymous with the Jeep Cherokee (despite the latter having Trailhawk L and Trailhawk Elite).
The off-road-oriented package includes the following:
- A mechanical rear locker.
- Recovery hooks for towing.
- The Uconnect 4C NAV that offers helpful insights drivers can use while treading off-beaten paths.
Most importantly, it is Trail Rated® — meaning it has been tested for its traction, maneuverability, ground clearance, water fording, and articulation in off-road conditions.
Aiding the Cherokee’s off-road prowess are three drive systems, namely:
- Active Drive 4X4 System, which monitors slippage and automatically engages 4WD mode when road conditions become unpredictable
- Active Drive II 4X4 System, which features a 2-speed transfer case and 4-Lo (on top of locking front and rear driveshafts for enhanced low-grunt power
- Active Drive Lock 4X4 System, which features a rear locker for added grip when in Rock Mode on the Selec-Terrain® TMS (or in any off-roading situation)
These drive modes are further enhanced by advanced (all-weather) 4×4 systems such as Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II, Quadra-Drive II (equipped with an electronic rear limited-slip differential), and the SRT-specific Quadra-Trac Active On-Demand — but only on the Grand Cherokee.
The Grand Cherokee may have the Quadra-Lift® Air Suspension and an optional 5.7-L Hemi V8 engine boosting its off-roading and towing capabilities. However, its added heft tends to offset the positive impact of these features, making the smaller and nimbler Jeep Cherokee more off-road appropriate.
In 2022, the NHTSA gave Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees overall safety ratings of 4 out of 5 stars for RWD models and 5 out of 5 stars for 4WD models. Both SUV offerings scored higher in the side crash test than in the frontal crash test.
Based on NHTSA’s assessment, it is safe to say that riders can have peace of mind when driving either Cherokee model. Below are some safety features in both Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees that make this sense of security possible:
- Front/side-impact airbag for driver and passenger
- Overhead airbag on 1st and 2nd-row curtain
- Front passenger Airbag occupancy sensor
- Side impact beams
- Height-adjustable seatbelts and seatbelt tensioners at the front
- ABS (available in 4WD trims)
- Predictive brake assist
- Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking
- ABS and driveline traction control
- LaneSense® Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist
- Electronic stability control with anti-roll
- Blind Spot Monitoring and Red Cross Path Detection
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go
- Panic alarm and immobilizer
- Manual rear child safety locks
Grand Cherokee Safety Measures
Conversely, here are standard safety measures that are only present in the Grand Cherokee — giving it the edge when it comes to rider and passenger safety:
|Parameter||Jeep Cherokee||Jeep Grand Cherokee|
|Convex Spotter Mirror — Driver/Passenger Side||x||x|
In addition to the table above, features like Traffic Sign Recognition, Drowsy Driver Detection, Intersection Collision Assist, Surround View Camera, and Night Vision are not offered on current Jeep Cherokee models (per the Jeep website).
Needless to say, the current trims of the Grand Cherokee appear to be superior to the Jeep Cherokee in safety. But be warned — the opposite is true if we compare pre- and early-2000 Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee models.
At the time, Grand Cherokees had a problematic fuel system, with the fuel tank located behind the rear axle.
The tank’s placement dramatically increased the 4×4’s propensity to catch fire from a rear impact or collision. Some Jeep Cherokee models reportedly had the same issue, but they were not included in the product recall by Chrysler.
Between 2005 and 2010, Grand Cherokees with the Quadra-Drive II and Quadra-Trac II systems were also reported to have roll-away issues caused by faulty soldering in the transfer case actuator and a hyper-sensitive Final Drive Control Module (FDCM) software. The affected transfer cases either went into neutral on their own or experienced a loss of neutral and low-ratio modes.
Like all other types of vehicles, performance figures matter to SUV owners. After all, the 4×4 falls under the utility category.
SUVs are basically the marriage of style, comfort, and function in one vehicle platform. Talk about a comfortable sedan, a spacious minivan, and a trusty pickup truck under one seat!
That said, the slightest difference in horsepower, torque, and top speed rating could sway a prospective buyer in choosing one Cherokee iteration over the other. And in these areas, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has better leverage — as can be seen in the table below:
|Parameter||Jeep Cherokee||Jeep Grand Cherokee|
|Horsepower||271 hp @ 6,500 RPM||293 hp @ 6,400 RPM|
|Torque||239 lb-ft @ 4,400 RPM||257 lb-ft @ 4,000 RPM|
|Top Speed||137 mph (220.5 km/h)||180 mph (289.6 km/h)|
|Fuel Mileage (CTY/HWY)||19 / 27 MPG; 23 / 31 MPG (EPA estimate)||19 / 26 MPG (same as EPA estimate)|
When all else fails in helping prospective buyers decide, the affordability of an item usually does the job. And in this area, the Jeep Cherokee has the advantage.
With its four trim packages offered in 2022, the price range was kept within the $35,000—$40,000 bracket.
MSRP for the Jeep Cherokee X 4×4 started at $35,245, while the Jeep Cherokee Limited 4×4 was the priciest at $39,345. The Trailhawk, on the other hand, was for $37,545.
The Latitude Lux was the only trim available in 4×4 and FWD modes, with list prices only $2,000 apart.
The Grand Cherokee series retail pricing ranged from $40,720 to $67,175. Across all trims, buyers needed only to add $2,000 to upgrade the vehicle from 2-row to 3-row seating.
As for Grand Cherokee 4xe trims, they were the most expensive of the lot. The base model sold for $62,095, while the Summit Reserve 4xe (4×4) sold for $77,470.
Other trims released in 2022 included the Trailhawk, Overland, and Summit, with prices between $65,655 and $72,595. These values stayed within the same range for 2023, including the newly-introduced 30th Anniversary Grand Cherokee 4xe selling for $65,060.
Conclusion — Jeep Cherokee vs. Grand Cherokee
As far as differences are concerned, there is more to these Cherokee iterations than just their size and price tag. Depending on your intended application for the four-wheeler, some considerations may become more significant than others.
The off-roading enthusiast and infrequent adventurer will definitely have contrasting priorities when choosing.
Hopefully, the information shared in this guide enables you to distinguish between the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. Moreover, may it help you select the Jeep SUV you can exploit the capabilities of.
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.