1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Available in 4 styles:  Grand Cherokee 4dr Laredo shown
Asking Price Range
$1,513–$7,597
Estimated MPG

16 city / 21 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 2 of 8

By 

Orlando Sentinel
When your vehicle is No. 1 or close to it, other manufacturers have it in their gunsights.

Ever since Jeep rolled out the Grand Cherokee in 1993 and created a "near-luxury" sport-utility vehicle, there have been scads of imitators, duplicators and wannabes. Some of those vehicles, namely the Toyota 4Runner and the Nissan Pathfinder, have been credible challengers, though none had the muscle under the hood, the room inside or the brawny good looks.

But many of the Jeep's competitors did have something that couldn't be found in the Grand Cherokee: an unblemished record for high quality. Jeep designed a great vehicle but didn't build it well enough. To be fair, the maladies that plagued the Jeep -- rattles, squeaks and broken parts -- rarely left it dead on the side of the road. Still, the problems were bothersome on a vehicle that often costs more than $30,000.

These shortcomings have been addressed with the 1999 Grand Cherokee, an all-new version of the popular sport-utility that uses just 127 parts from the original model.

The new Jeep should drive another nail in the coffin of bad quality that has been haunting Chrysler's otherwise nicely styled products. Now that Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz have united, I expect that coffin to be interred permanently very soon.

Performance, handling

Our bright red test Grand Cherokee sported Jeep's well-proven 4.0-liter, inline six-cylinder engine rated at 195-horsepower and a four-speed automatic transmission. A new 4.7-liter, overhead cam V-8 is on the options list; so is four-wheel drive. Grand Cherokee comes only with an automatic transmission.

If you never opened the hood, you'd swear there was a V-8 lurking under it. Performance is outstanding. Despite weighing a hefty 3,900 pounds, the Grand Cherokee has snappy acceleration at low speeds and pulls strongly all the way to 70 mph. Unless you occasionally tow heavy loads, I can see no reason to opt for the V-8.

DaimlerChrysler engineers designed a new four-speed automatic transmission for the Grand Cherokee. The shifts are crisp and well-timed, giving the vehicle a rugged yet civilized feel.

If you would use the Grand Cherokee as a family vehicle and for commuting to and from work instead of fording streams and trailblazing, you d on't need four-wheel drive -- not in Florida. Skip it and save the money.

The '99 Grand Cherokee has a much tighter and more solid feel to it than its predecessor. The quadralink suspension soaks up the bumps while delivering a ride that is a mixture of what you'd get in a sporty sedan and a rugged truck.

Our test vehicle sported four-wheel, anti-lock disc brakes, which provided excellent stopping power.

Many of today's SUVs ride like sedans, and you'd never feel confident venturing far off-road.

Jeep created the sport-utility vehicle, and the 1999 Grand Cherokee still defines how a true sport-utility should perform and handle -- on the road and off.

Fit and finish

I have not tested a vehicle from DaimlerChrysler that felt as solid and well-made. The Grand Cherokee feels as if it rolled out of a BMW or Toyota factory. The only thing that remains to be seen is if the Grand Cherokee will hold up over many years and miles. I believe it will.

The leather seats are nicely designed and fairly comfortable, but the bottom cushions are a bit too flat. I've tested seats that offer better support, such as those in the Mercedes ML320.

I'd say the Ford Explorer still has the most user-friendly rear cargo area. To fold down the Grand Cherokee's rear seats, you have to lift up the rear cushion, pull off the headrest and then fold the seat down. The Explorer's seats fold down with one quick flick of the wrist.

But those gripes are minor.

What I like best is the Range Rover-like feeling you get behind the wheel. The wide-open interior, substantial dash and curve of the hood gives the new Grand Cherokee a very different feeling from the old model.

You sit high up, which affords you an excellent view of the road. You can easily see over the tops of cars. In fact, visibility is great from all angles.

Jeep's interior decorators used first-rate materials. The dash is made of a soft, rubberlike substance with many textures and shapes. There are lots of places to store items such as glasses and coins.

The spare tire has been moved out of the cargo area and now lives under a panel in the rear. This allows the Grand Cherokee to swallow more items.

The automatic climate control system is a set-it-and-forget-it affair; you just set the temperature and it keeps a steady stream of air coming out at the desired temperature.

The overhead console caught my eye. You can call up all sorts of fuel and trip information -- the electronic trip odometer was really nifty. The numbers appear to rotate as they do on a mechanical odometer. Great touch.

When a company builds and prices a vehicle right, it sells itself. The Grand Cherokee is one of those vehicles. One test drive will convince you that, despite all the new competition coming from all corners of the globe, Jeep is still the one to beat.

1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 2WD

Base price: $25,800. Safety: Dual air bags, anti-lock brakes and side-impact protection. Price as tested: $29,055. EPA rating: 16 mpg city/21 mpg Incentives: None.

Truett's tip: The all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo offers a smooth, quiet ride, excellent handling and superb quality. This may be the best sport-utility for under $30,000 on the market.


    Expert Reviews 2 of 8

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