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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overview

Still Tops in its Field

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the division's best selling vehicle and has been a consistent top seller among all SUVs sold in this country. Though the basic design has been around for quite sometime now, the Grand Cherokee's blend of reasonable size, sure-footed off-road ability and stylish good looks keep the faithful flocking to Jeep showrooms year after year.

Jeep has made only minor cosmetic changes to the 2004 model, freshening the grille and adding fog lights to all the trims. In addition to the old standbys—the Laredo, Limited and Overland—there are now two more trims dubbed Special and Freedom. All Grand Cherokees share the same interior dimensions and wheelbase and differ only in their content level and powertrain options.

If you could only have one vehicle in your driveway, you would be well served to make it a Grand Cherokee. As a daily driver, the Cherokee performs admirably, returning an acceptable ride that only gets choppy over broken or rough pavement. On the plus side, the Grand Cherokee is endowed with rather nimble handling and its short wheelbase allows it to carve out a relatively tight turning circle. You'll find that the Grand Cherokee is as equally at home negotiating crowded shopping mall parking lots as it is maneuvering around off-road obstacles. The tall body-on-frame platform will still feel a bit tippy when pushed hard, as do all vehicles with a high center of gravity, but the Grand Cherokee only displays this behavior at the extreme limits; under ordinary driving conditions, the Grand Cherokee exhibits only modest lean and roll.

The Grand Cherokee's stiff suspension reveals its purpose once you leave the paved road behind. This is still one of the best off-road vehicles produced and for the money (the 4x4 Laredo starts just under $30K) is nearly impossible to beat. Even novice off-roaders will feel their confidence bolstered by the Grand Cherokee's ability to crawl over rocks, traverse deep gullies and climb at seemingly impossible angles. Jeep offers three different four-wheel-drive options, depending on the model you choose. The Laredo comes standard with Selec-Trac, the most basic of the Grand Cherokee's four-wheel drive mechanisms, and is intended for use only in off-road situations. The more advanced Quadra-Trac system is an on-demand unit that can be left engaged under normal driving conditions and only comes online when wheel slippage is detected; this system is optional on Laredo and standard on the Special and Limited. Finally there is the Quadra-Drive system that uses a combination of torque-sensing transfer clutches at both the front and rear axles. Standard on Overland and optional on the Limited, the Quadra-Drive system is so precise it can actually direct all of the engine's power to a single wheel, allowing you to go just about anywhere your tires can make contact.

Power for the Grand Cherokee is merely a matter of degrees and is never in short supply. The base 4.0-liter in-line six has been a part of the Grand Cherokee line since its inception. A favorite of off-roaders, the 4.0-liter is well regarded for its ample power, smooth operation and efficient fuel use. Rated at 195 horsepower, the six provides strong off-the-line acceleration and has plenty of guts for tackling deep snow and mud. If on the other hand, you plan to tow, you should opt for the 4.7-liter High-Output V8. With 265 horsepower and a whopping 325 lbs-ft. of torque, the 4.7 has the muscle to hustle the Grand Cherokee, and permits you to tow up to 6500-pounds. Of course, the price paid for power is fuel economy, with the V8 returning only 15-mpg city and 20-mpg highway.

Inside, you won't find as much interior space as say a Chevy Tahoe or even a TrailBlazer, but the Grand Cherokee makes up in comfort what it lacks in overall cargo room. Front seat passengers have it best, with a pair of cozy bucket seats separated by a wide console that houses the shift lever, four-wheel-drive control, cup holders and storage console. The standard seats are covered in a sturdy cloth that cleans up easily or you can opt for leather in the higher trims. The rear seats offer snug accommodations for anyone over six feet and the narrow rear doors can somewhat hinder graceful exits. Cargo room behind the third seat is sufficient for grocery runs or odd baggage, but camping gear and mountain bikes must go up top, especially if you have another couple along for the trip.

On the safety front, the Grand Cherokee now offers the added benefit of a side-curtain airbag to protect both front and rear passengers. Another new option this year is the onboard navigation system designed to fit into the slot normally occupied by the standard radio. The unit fits nicely into the Grand Cherokee's dash without the need for major revisions, but you may find that its small screen and tiny buttons are somewhat difficult to operate.

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