Posted on 12/9/02
Vehicle Overview
The Grand Cherokee was last redesigned for the 1999 model year. This top-of-the-line model from DaimlerChrysler’s Jeep division has been its highest-volume seller by far. As reported by Automotive News, sales dipped by 17.7 percent during 2001, but the 223,612 units sold still helps in keeping the Jeep brand strong in market share.

The four-door Grand Cherokee is larger than its Liberty sibling. It competes against the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Ford Explorer, Toyota 4Runner and other midsize models, as well as luxury sport utility vehicles like the Infiniti QX4 and Lexus RX 300.

The Grand Cherokee comes in Laredo and Limited trim levels. A four-wheel-drive (4WD) Premium Overland model with a new high-output 4.7-liter V-8 engine and standard curtain-type airbags debuted in the 2002 model year. The high-output engine delivers 260 horsepower rather than the usual 235 hp. Overland editions also feature unique front and rear styling and a redwood-accented interior. Curtain-type airbags and a tire-pressure monitor became optional in 2002. Details on changes for the 2003 model year have not yet been released.

Featuring the bold upright grille that Jeep is known for, the Grand Cherokee’s classic four-door SUV styling is evident even if it is more rounded than some rivals. The SUV measures 181.6 inches long overall, rides a 105.9-inch wheelbase, stands 70.3 inches tall and stretches 72.6 inches wide. The rear liftgate features a window that swings up separately. A roof rack is standard.

All Grand Cherokee models seat five occupants. Leather upholstery is standard in the snazzier Limited Edition and optional in the Laredo. Cargo volume is 72 cubic feet with the rear seat folded. The Grand Cherokee’s spare tire is mounted underneath the rear cargo floor. Standard Laredo equipment includes a CD player, rear privacy glass, and power windows, door locks and mirrors. Stepping up to the Limited model adds such features as automatic dual-zone temperature control, power front seats, heated mirrors and an Infinity audio system. The Overland models have a 10-CD changer, rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats, and a wood- and leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Under the Hood
The standard engine in the Grand Cherokee is a 195-hp, 4.0-liter inline-six-cylinder that drives a four-speed-automatic transmission. The optional 235-hp, 4.7-liter V-8 engine teams with a five-speed automatic. For peak performance, the Overland gets a high-output 260-hp version of the V-8, which is also optional in the Limited.

The Grand Cherokee comes with either rear-wheel drive or one of two 4WD systems, which depends on the model. Selec-Trac is a full-time 4WD system that can be left in 4WD mode on dry pavement; it is standard on the Laredo. Quadra-Trac offers on-demand 4WD that distributes power among the four wheels as needed for traction; it is available on the Limited and Overland models. Both systems have a two-speed transfer case.

All-disc antilock brakes are standard. Curtain-type airbags are standard in the Overland and optional in the other models.

Reported by Jim Flammang  for
From the 2003 Buying Guide