Used Jeep Grand Cherokee: Introduction
Jeep’s Grand Cherokee debuted at the Detroit Auto Show in 1992, as a 1993 model. The first SUV offered with a unit body — as opposed to body-on-frame construction like the trucks of that era, the Grand Cherokee was less expensive to produce, as well as lighter, stronger and crashworthier than its competitors.
To make the world aware of the existence of this whole new kind of Jeep, Chrysler president, “Maximum” Bob Lutz (which coincidentally rhymes with nuts) drove the Grand Cherokee up the steps of Detroit’s Cobo Hall with the city’s then-mayor, Coleman Young, riding shotgun. The pair then proceeded to smash the Jeep through one of the plate glass windows of the exhibition hall.
In the years since, there have been four generations of Jeep’s flagship offered. The current iteration (Gen-4) was introduced in 2010, as a 2011 model. Remarkably robust, Jeep’s Grand Cherokee is truly capable of going just about anywhere you can imagine (save the street-optimized SRT8s).
Used Jeep Grand Cherokee: 2005 – 2010
The third generation Grand Cherokee was introduced in 2004 as a 2005 model. Recognizing they had created a market in which more people than ever were using these types of vehicles as daily transportation, Jeep introduced independent front suspension to the Grand Cherokee to improve its handling on the road. A rear seat DVD system was offered for the first time in a Jeep product as well. The look of the vehicle through this model run went largely unchanged, save updates to the front end in 2008.
Engine choices included replacing the inline-sixes Jeep had used previously with a 210-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 for the entire model run. The base 265-horsepower 4.7-liter V8 ran until 2008, when it was upgraded to 305 horsepower. The Grand Cherokee’s 5.7-liter V8 made 330 horsepower until ’08, when it also got a power bump — to 357 horses.
Five speed automatics handled transmission chores across the board.
With SUVs supplanting cars more and more by 2006, Jeep decided the world was ready for an extreme performance model. Thus begat the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 — of which just under 12,000 were produced. The uber-Jeep ran a 420-horsepower, 6.1-liter V8. To cope with the output, Jeep’s engineers fitted huge Brembo brakes. Bilstein high performance gas-filled shocks girded a lowered suspension system and a heavy-duty drive shaft was borrowed from the diesel version of the Jeep. Beefed-up diffs, a five-speed select-shift transmission from (then corporate cousin) Mercedes-Benz, and four of the widest high performance 20-inch Goodyears ever fitted to a factory-built street car completed the transformation.
The GCSRT8 was said to be capable of 170 miles per hour. It ran the quarter in 13.2 and did 4.6-second 60s. A decidedly on-road Jeep, the SRT8’s front spoiler cleared the ground by a mere seven inches (which isn’t much at all for a Jeep).
Used Jeep Grand Cherokee: 1999 - 2004
The second generation Grand Cherokee, while considerably more civilized than the first, was still somewhat “rural” compared to the third- and fourth-gen versions. A complete redesign, the ’99 Jeep Grand Cherokee got all-new engines and a brand new interior. MY ’99 Grand Cherokees also saw the introduction of Jeep’s Qudra-Drive four-wheel drive system — giving the vehicle the ability to automatically manage traction for all four wheels for the first time.
The base engine was a 195-horsepower 4.0-liter inline six. The V8 displaced 4.7-liters and made 235 horsepower. For 2002, a 265-horsepower version of the 4.7 was introduced. Curiously, at introduction, the Grand Cherokee’s automatic transmission was capable of six speeds, but Jeep chose to use only five of them and called it a four-speed automatic. For MY 2001, the transmission was reprogrammed to allow the use of all six ratios, but still worked as a five-speed, with an alternate second gear used for downshifts. The logic was to ensure robustness in off road situations.
In a bid to make the Grand Cherokee more appealing to people getting out of cars and into an SUV for the first time, Jeep added features like a 10-disc CD changer and automatic dual-zone climate control (for the more upscale Limited model). Additionally, controls for items such as heated seats, headlights, and the rear wiper were rearranged to positions more familiar to people used to driving cars.
There were some recall concerns with gas tank problems that could lead to fires attributed to the ‘99 to ‘04 models covered here. We advise running Internet searches for “Jeep Grand Cherokee recall” with the model year of the one you’re interested in and make sure the prescribed remedies were effected to the vehicle you’re considering. Regardless of recalls however, you should always subject any used vehicle you’re about to buy to a very thorough inspection by a trusted professional mechanic — one well versed in the vehicle of your choice.