The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been a staple of the Jeep lineup for decades, mixing comfort and convenience with hauling and off-roading capabilities. Its story starts in 1983 when Jeep, then under the American Motors Corporation banner, began designing a successor to the Cherokee.
In 1989, Jeep showed off the Jeep Concept 1, giving the public its first look at the model, which would eventually arrive in 1992 after several delays surrounding Chrysler’s acquisition of the Jeep brand and CEO Lee Iacocca's focus on minivans over sport utility vehicles.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee first arrived in showrooms as a 1993 model, set to directly compete against the Ford Explorer, which had made its dealership debut in 1991.
The first generation Jeep Grand Cherokee (XJ) was positioned as a luxury SUV when it debuted. Buyers could choose from three trim levels: SE (the base model), Laredo, and Limited. A five-speed manual transmission was standard, but power windows and locks were not.
There was only one engine available: a 4.0-liter straight-six that yielded 190 horsepower. By 1994, low demand for the manual transmission led to its discontinuation in favor of a four-speed automatic transmission. Buyers could also choose from four-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. It was the first SUV equipped with a driver’s side air bag.
An Orvis trim level was added in 1995, followed by the TSI variant in 1997. In 1998, Jeep debuted the 5.9 Limited top-tier model. This gave customers the option of a 5.9-liter V8 engine that yielded 245 horsepower, as well as a heavy-duty transmission and a number of upgraded exterior features.
Jeep’s second go at the Grand Cherokee produced the WJ, which shared only 127 parts with its predecessor (The average car today has about 30,000). Starting in 1999, the model featured a more rounded exterior design. More consideration was given to interior space, giving back-seat passengers more legroom.
With customers demanding more power, and the EPA requiring better fuel efficiency, Jeep gave the Grand Cherokee a new PowerTech V8 engine and a smaller gas tank. For the second generation, the company rearranged driver controls to allow easier access to headlamps, heated seats, and wipers.
Jeep and Porsche worked together to strengthen the frame of the WJ, making 70 percent of it out of high-strength steel.
In 2004, the WJ received a front fascia redesign, complete with rounded fog lamps.
Jeep debuted the next-generation Grand Cherokee at the 2004 New York Auto Show as a 2005 model. For the new model year, Jeep focused on creature comforts, in addition to engine design and off-road capabilities.
The WK, as it was dubbed, received added soundproofing, an independent double-wishbone suspension, an optional rear-seat DVD player, and Quadra-Drive II four-wheel drive. Engine options included a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 and a 3.7-liter V6.
In 2008, Jeep gave the WK a minor facelift, rounding the bottom of the headlamps, making the lower half of the bumper removable to aid in off-road situations, and introducing High Intensity Discharge Headlamps with auto-leveling.
The output of the offered engines was boosted in 2008 and 2009.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee was last redesigned for 2011 and was given the moniker WK2. While styling remained similar to the previous generation, the SUV’s refinement and capabilities made it one of Chrysler’s premier vehicles.
The WK2 has continued the Grand Cherokee’s unibody construction but now offers a four-wheel independent suspension, making it better on the road. WK2 owners have five drive modes to choose from: Auto, Sport, Snow, Sand/Mud, and Rock.
Two engine options were available when the model debuted: a new 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and a 5.7-liter Hemi V8. Upgrading to the Hemi engine allows drivers to tow 7,400 pounds, up from 5,000 with the Pentastar V6.
A Look Ahead: 2017 Model – Trims
The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee will be available in six trim levels: Laredo, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, and SRT. Trailhawk is a new addition to Jeep’s stable and offers advanced off-roading technology similar to what is found on the Jeep Renegade and Jeep Cherokee.
The Grand Cherokee Summit trim has also been upgraded for 2017 and will now offer a more refined interior complete with hand-crafted leather, additional standard premium features, and a redesigned front fascia.
Jeep’s SRT model will also feature a refreshed front fascia with “stealth-like” fog lamps and grille.
A Look Ahead: 2017 Model – Performance
Base models get a standard Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine rated at 295 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Buyers can upgrade to a 5.7-liter V8 that offers 360 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. The engines offer 6,200 pounds and 7,400 pounds of towing capacity, respectively.
A 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine mated to a TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission is also available, achieving a driving range of up to 730 miles.
The SRT model gives buyers a 6.4-liter V8 engine. Its 475 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque help the SRT model achieve a zero to 60 mph time of 4.8 seconds. It also offers eight drive modes.
A Look Ahead: 2017 Model – Technology
Drivers have a technologically advanced information screen in front of them, while the center stack’s Uconnect system features an available 8.4-inch touch screen.
2017’s Grand Cherokee offers a UConnect 8.4 NAV system with full navigation, Siri Eyes Free, SiriusXM Travel Link, SiriusXM Traffic, USB and auxiliary audio ports, Bluetooth streaming audio, HD Radio, and hands-free calling.
UConnect Access allows owners to communicate with their Jeep Grand Cherokee via their smartphone, giving them the ability to call 911, be notified in the event of a vehicle theft, call for roadside assistance, and check Yelp reviews.
Further Down the Road
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is late in its model run, and we can expect to see a new model soon. Jeep officials have already revealed that a Hellcat-powered Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is coming.
Reuters has reported that Jeep CEO Mike Manley told automotive journalists in mid-2015 to not expect a redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee until late 2018 or early 2019. That is around the same time we can expect to see Jeep’s new Wrangler-based pick-up truck, as well as its high-end Wagoneer models.
|2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee||$29,995|
|2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee||$29,995|
|2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee||$24,619|
|2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee||$22,499|
|2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee||$20,973|
|2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee||$19,217|
|2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee||$12,652|
|2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee||$11,427|
|2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee||$9,620|
|2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee||$8,333|