Once upon a time there was only the Jeep Cherokee, the Cherokee was a utilitarian off-road oriented vehicle, competing with vehicles like the Land Cruise.
However as the market for SUVs began to grow, other manufacturers started launching luxury vehicles and Jeep saw an opening. Thus the Jeep Grand Cherokee was born.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee was a beefed up, luxury version of the standard Cherokee, and appealed to the higher end of the market.
While the names may be similar, they are very different vehicles that are very different sizes, offer different features, and are for very different people looking for vehicles.
Nowadays the Grand Cherokee competes directly with vehicles like the Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango (basically a longer Grand Cherokee), and Toyota Highlander. While the normal Cherokee competes with smaller crossovers like the Ford Escape, Toyota Rav4 and others.
Did you know?
Fun fact, the Jeep Liberty we know today is actually a Cherokee. Jeep pulled the Cherokee name from the USA, and made it the Liberty to help with confusion between the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Jeep Cherokee. However they continued to market what we know as the Liberty as the Cherokee outside of the USA.
Also, if you haven’t looked into it, the Jeep Gladiator recently joined the Jeep Lineup, read more about it here.