Comparo: 2010 Jeep Wrangler VS 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Comparo: 2010 Jeep Wrangler VS 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee

This urban comparo is about as meaningless as it gets, but for the sake of argument, we’ll give it a go anyway. We’ve had a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 since late 2007, and this is the first time that we’ve managed to drive another Jeep vehicle since then. Our Grand Cherokee was the epitome of American 4x4s back in its day, with capable off-road and on-road performance, packed with leather, full-time 4WD and a V8. The Wrangler has always been a simplistic offroader, but the latest generation claims to be the most refined and practical Wrangler ever, with options such as four doors and Bluetooth, so we figured we’ll compare it to an actual 7-year-old luxury Jeep and see how comfortable the silver truck really is in the city.

This is the first Wrangler that could be considered a midsizer, after years of being classified as a compact SUV. However, next to our Grand Cherokee, the Wrangler Unlimited looks gargantuan with a Mopar lift kit. But cabin volume feels virtually identical in both the vehicles.

It takes loose-fit jeans to climb onto a lifted Wrangler. Anything else will rip. On the other hand, my aging mother can manage to climb onto the Grand Cherokee, even without side-steps. Once inside, the Grand Cherokee offers up leather and a fair amount of soft-touch plastics, unlike the Wrangler, whose only soft interior bits are the stain-proof cloth seats and the padding on the roll cage.

The Wrangler can be optioned up with surprisingly good tech, such as the UConnect-integrated stereo which comes with a voice-controlled Bluetooth phone, and a CD/MP3 stereo with roof speakers and dash tweeters. Also included are power windows and keyless entry, but the mirrors and seats are manually adjusted. The old Grand Cherokee comes with power-operated everything, as well as a CD stereo with 10-disc changer and more speakers. Bluetooth was unheard of back in 2002, but we installed an aftermarket hands-free kit in ours.

Both vehicles have live-axle suspension both front and rear, which is rare among today’s phussified 4x4s. While good for offroading, such a setup is generally not good for ride quality. But while the Wrangler rides like a truck, the second-generation Grand Cherokee has always been praised for its acceptable ride comfort, given its underpinnings. The Wrangler is also louder, with a cacophony of noises from the wind, the tyres, the engine, and even the biker farting in the next lane. Those plastic roof panels don’t block any sounds.

The Wrangler manages with a 3.8-litre V6, while our Grand Cherokee has a 4.7-litre V8. No contest here. Oddly enough, the V6 gulps down as much fuel as our V8.

The Grand Cherokee easily has the upper hand, with moderate body roll and decent grip from the road-biased tyres, as well as a gutsy all-wheel-drive system. The Wrangler, fitted with special Mopar shocks and offroad tyres on our tester, also kept body roll within surprisingly moderate levels, but its grip limits are much lower, causing the stability control to intervene too early. And let’s not talk about the joys of parking a Wrangler without sensors.

The Grand Cherokee gets at least a middling amount of respect on the road, largely due to people thinking they are only driven by Europeans and Levantine types. However, the Wrangler — with its aftermarket battering-ram bumper and sky-high lift — scared the crap out of just about everybody who happened to cross our path, giving way at crowded intersections and what not. But we felt embarrassed showing up in this monster truck for a suit-and-tie meeting.

So is the Wrangler refined enough to be a daily driver? We’d personally take a pass and prefer a Grand Cherokee any day of the week. Undoubtedly, the Wrangler is infinitely cool. But just like owning a Mini or a Corvette, it really is better to own one as a second car, for those fun excursions to de-stress from work.

What do you think?



  1. great comparo..need to show it to wife. She wants to buy a Wrangler 2 door, after spending atleast another one year with the Focus. I know what will happen…

  2. No power mirror on Wranglers is one thing Jeep should think seriously !! Its one of the few things which put me off that Truck.

  3. Author

    Glad to see the comparo helped one person. The doors have to be simple because they can be taken off. I was surprised to find power windows and keyless entry.

  4. yeah simple… i can actually see the latch [from inside the cab) that holds the (rear) door closed in pic 11. this thing is a truck.

  5. I drive a 2002 Wrangler and I may never drive a “regular” car again. I know it’s a matter of opinion, but driving a top-down Jeep in good weather is unparalleled. I live in Ohio, so you might not fully appreciate the 4×4 like I do (a couple of feet of snow on the ground now), which is A LOT. I’ve had 4x4s before, but there is no comparison to the Wrangler in snow. This is the ride Santa would drive. The difference in location may also account for an interesting difference: in Ohio, showing up to a black-tie in a Wrangler marks you as devil-may-care cool.


  7. i dont think that a comparo should be made between a wrangler and a grand cherokee… both are from two different segments and both are been made for two different kind of people.. or at least let them both be the same model (2010)… come on a 2010 wrangler vs a 2002 grand cherokee…!!!

  8. Thanks for taking time to post this compare, it was exactly what I needed. I will keep my grand cherokee unlimited.

  9. Author

    ^cool, at least somebody got the point.

  10. Those new Jeeps arent built like the previous generations… The new wrangler has been an exception though as many people are liking it..

  11. was looking up pics for wrangler and a cherokee this come up. Just to inform you’s i own a 2000 wrangler yj for me for play my wife drives a 2010 grand cherokee ltd they are not even in the same category, yes both 4×4 but my yj is uncomfortable yet unstopable amd the cherokee is beyond comfortable hell it has heated rear seats! yet not quite as agile as my Yj there is no comparison. I live I ride I am proud owner never by anything but a Jeep Yeeeaaah!!!!

  12. ^^

    FJ all the way 🙂

  13. I have a ’02 Grand Cherokee which I love. I live in Chile where I have enjoyed traveling and off-roading around the country and using it as a DD. I have mod. suspension for a 4″lift and installed 33″tires. It’s the perfect combination between comfort, engine power and off-road and towing capability. I was thinking about changing it for a 2010 or 2011 wrangler rubicon unlimited, mainly because of it’s design (I previously owned a TJ) and great aftermarket upgrades. This comparison fitted me perfectly and has been extremely helpful. For now, I’m keeping my GCH!

  14. I have a used 2007 GC in the family. Its one of the worst cars i have ever driven, sad, as i wasnt there when this was bought. Its fine for someone who does offroading all the time. But for day to day driving it is just as comfortable as being stabbed. Have to say, this has one of the most disgustingly uncomfortable seats one can find. The interior is horrific and cheap plastic. I had the impression before this that Jeeps GC have excellent offroading with a very comfy ride. Turns out Jeeps these days symbolize the very stereotype for american car quality. Never buy a Jeep again.

  15. my question is how much is the cost of wrangler jeep modified

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