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2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. 2015 Dodge Durango: What's the Difference?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro August 2015

There is a lot of similarities between the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the 2015 Dodge Durango -- so many that some automotive experts refer to the Durango as a Grand Cherokee with 3-row seating. Aside from their seating configurations, is there anything else that separates the two Chrysler SUVs? Let's take a closer look at all the key differences between the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Dodge Durango.

Exterior

On the outside, there's little mistaking the Durango for the Grand Cherokee. The Grand Cherokee boasts its unique Jeep grille, while the Durango offers Dodge's traditional cross-hair look. But that's not the only difference. Despite being mechanical twins, these two cars offer virtually no identical styling cues. The Durango is clearly bigger than its Jeep counterpart, and both cars offer their own unique style and design.

Interior

Things are a lot more similar inside the Durango and Grand Cherokee than outside. The two SUVs share a lot of interior touches, including the switchgear, a steering wheel, infotainment system and climate-control knobs. There are a few noticeable differences, though. For example, we think the Durango offers more room in front; the two models offer different gauge clusters and climate control vents; and, of course, only the Durango offers 3-row seating, while drivers who choose a Grand Cherokee must make do with only two rows.

Mechanics

Despite major differences inside and out, the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee are largely the same under the skin. Standard in both SUVs is a 290-horsepower 3.6-liter V6, while both offer an optional 360-hp 5.7-liter V8 for drivers who want more power. Those engines make up the entirety of the Dodge Durango's lineup and a huge proportion of Jeep Grand Cherokee sales.

The remaining sliver of Grand Cherokee sales is occupied by two engines. Drivers especially interested in gas mileage can opt for a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6, which offers 240 hp, 420 lb-ft of torque and fuel economy numbers that reach as high as 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Meanwhile, shoppers looking for more performance can go for the Grand Cherokee SRT's especially enjoyable 475-hp 6.4-liter V8. Neither of those two engines is available in the Durango.

Features & Technology

When it comes to features and technology, the Durango and the Grand Cherokee don't differ too much. Chalk it up to economies of scale and that these two SUVs were designed at about the same time. Safety features include a wide array of today's latest gadgets, while technology features abound in both models, and unique options, such as Chrysler's excellent Uconnect infotainment system with its huge 8.4-inch touchscreen, are available in both the Grand Cherokee and the Durango. If you're looking for major equipment differences between the Grand Cherokee and the Durango, you won't find them.

Driving Experience

We also don't think the Grand Cherokee and the Durango offer too many differences behind the wheel. Now built on the same platform, the Durango and the Grand Cherokee feel largely similar to drive, with roughly the same cornering ability, acceleration and commanding view over the road. Admittedly, the Grand Cherokee feels a little more capable in the corners (likely due to its smaller size) while the Durango lumbers around a bit more, but we think most drivers won't notice huge differences between these two SUVs in typical around-the-town or highway driving.

Safety

In crash testing carried out by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2015 Dodge Durango earned a 4-star overall score after front, side and rollover crash assessments. The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee earned a 5-star score after performing a little better in the NHTSA's frontal crash test. Both SUVs earned the same less-than-stellar report from the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) after the two scored only a Marginal rating in the IIHS's new challenging small-overlap front crash test.

As for safety features, however, the Grand Cherokee and the Durango are hard to beat. Both come standard with everything you'll need, including side-curtain airbags, traction control and anti-lock brakes, but the two SUVs also offer a wide array of safety options, such as rear cross-traffic alert, a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning, park assist, a backup camera and adaptive cruise control. While neither SUV offers class-leading crash-test performance, both make up for it with an impressive number of safety gadgets and features.

Conclusions

Is the Dodge Durango really just a Jeep Grand Cherokee with 3-row seating? Yes and no. Under the skin, that characterization is almost exactly right: These two SUVs offer the same features, the same options, the same platform and roughly the same crash protection. They also share most powertrain choices. There are some significant differences between the Durango and the Grand Cherokee, though, most notably the interior and exterior styling, that third-row seat and a few additional Grand Cherokee powertrains. Buyers also have to decide if they prefer the cachet of the Jeep brand name or the in-your-face muscle associated with the Dodge nameplate. For our part, we think both SUVs offer excellent choices in a competitive market, but this decision primarily boils down to personal preference and priorities.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. 2015 Dodge Durango: What's the Difference? - Autotrader