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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overview

Mega Off-Road Ability; No Bulk

The Grand Cherokee soldiers on for 2003 with some new trim packages, an upgraded suspension and two new wheel packages. The fact that Jeep has had to make so few changes to a platform that is almost 10 years old speaks volumes about the Grand Cherokee's excellent design and off-road ability.

For 2003, the DaimlerChrysler group tasked the Jeep engineers to concentrate on improving the Grand Cherokee's ride, handling and braking; to their credit, the Jeep team has made improvements in all three areas without a significant cost increase to the Grand Cherokee's bottom line. The new Grand Cherokee rides on softer shocks that do a better job of soaking up road imperfections yet are still firm enough to avoid bouncing you around like a super ball when off-roading. The steering has also been overhauled to provide better road feel with less drift and the master cylinder's pressure has been increased to create a firmer feeling brake pedal with less travel required to activate the brakes themselves; this results in faster stopping times and better control in panic situations.

Jeep has also added some new options to help better accommodate different sized drivers. Along with the standard tilt-wheel, you can order height-adjustable pedals that offer up to three inches of variance. The system is activated by a button on the dash and features a 2-position memory that is incorporated into the seat, mirror and audio memory controls on vehicles so equipped. Special failsafe devices prevent the pedals from being moved when the Grand Cherokee is in reverse or when the cruise control is activated.

Safety is also of paramount concern. All Grand Cherokees now offer the option of ceiling-mounted side-curtain airbags and tire pressure monitors can alert the driver if the tires are running low on air.

There are still three trim levels in the Grand Cherokee line; they include the venerable Laredo, upscale Limited and posh Overland model. In addition, the Overland gets what Jeep is calling an Up-Country Suspension Group. This option includes more skid plate protection, raised white-letter all terrain tires, a full-size spare with matching alloy wheel and a 10-disc CD changer.

All three trim levels, the Laredo, Limited and Overland, can be ordered in rear-wheel or 4WD. The Laredo and Limited come standard with a 4.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine; a 4.7-liter HO V8 is standard on the Overland. The 4.0-liter is rated at 195 horsepower and 230 lbs-ft. of torque while the bigger 4.7-liter V8 generates 235 horsepower and 295 lbs-ft. of torque. The 4.7 Liter HO V8 generates 265 Horsepower and 325 lbs-ft. of Torque. All three engines provide more than enough power but some might find the V8 a bit thirsty when it comes to fuel consumption. On the other hand, if you do any kind of towing, the V8's powerful torque is a must have.

As we mentioned early, Jeep has made significant improvements in the way the Grand Cherokee rides and performs on the open road. But it is the Grand Cherokee's legendary off-road ability that makes it such a versatile favorite with American drivers. The Grand Cherokee offers two excellent and proven 4-wheel-drive systems. Jeep's Selec-Trac full-time four-wheel drive, with high/low transfer case, allows the driver to remain in 4WD at all times on all road conditions. It shuffles power from the rear wheels to the front as needed. The advanced Quadra-drive system sends power to each wheel individually and can actually operate with just a single wheel in motion, if the situation so requires.

Whether you're traversing boulder-strewn canyon passes or weaving through a crowded shopping center parking garage, the Grand Cherokee's modest size makes almost any maneuver easy. Of course, the Grand Cherokee's smaller dimensions also translate into somewhat confined interior quarters. The back seat does not provide much in the way of legroom for taller passengers and a third person only makes a tight situation tighter; however, cargo space is improved now that the spare tire has been relocated underneath the rear cargo floor.

The dashboard is very attractive and well laid out, with full gauges and easy-to-read controls. The Cherokee's front seats lean toward the soft side, especially on highline models, and could do with better lower back and side support. The Laredo models get new cloth-covered high-back bucket seats that do a better job of staving off fatigue on long trips.

The Grand Cherokee is Jeep's flagship vehicle and as such comes with a long list of standard equipment. Laredo models include air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, overhead console, keyless remote entry, power windows, power door locks, rear defroster, dual power mirrors, AM/FM stereo with CD, 6-way power driver's seat, tilt-wheel, cruise control, rear wiper/washer and aluminum wheels. Limited and Overland models get dual-zone automatic air conditioning, alarm system, remote garage door opener, on-board information center, auto-off headlights, heated mirrors, leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

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