Jeep Grand Cherokee history: How the SUV evolved over nearly 3 decades

Jeep Grand Cherokee history: How the SUV evolved over nearly 3 decades

Looks good even after this time.


A new Jeep Grand Cherokee, nigh, y’all. About to enter its fifth generation, the Grand Cherokee should continue to be a big seller for the Jeep, with plenty of luxury, technology and of course off-road credit. But before the new Grand Cherokee officially arrives this week, let’s take a look at the SUV’s past.

ZJ Grand Cherokee: A Smashing Start

Like, literally smashing. As part of its 1992 Detroit Auto Show celebration, Jeep drove the then-new Grand Cherokee off the steps of Detroit’s Cobo Hall and to the convention center’s plate to show how tough and tough her new SUV was. The glass broke through one of the windows. This is my second favorite auto show of all time.

Meant to be a more luxurious Cherokee, the first ZJ-Jean Grand Cherokee came in base, Laredo and Limited trims and was initially offered with a 4.0-liter Straight-6 engine with 190 horsepower. Rear- or four-wheel drive options were available, such as a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic transmission.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee was the first SUV to be offered with a driver side airbag (fancy!). Today, we even have airbags in our knees, but again, a driver’s side bag was a big thing. Grand Cherokee also had novel-to-time technologies, including anti-lock brakes, power door locks, power windows, and even cruise control. The Limited trim stepped up a notch with gold exterior accents, leather seats, keyless entry and digitized climate control.

For the initial model year of 1993, the Jeep introduced the Grand Wagoner version of the Grand Cherokee. It had a 5.2-liter V8 with 235 hp and the iconic woodgrain paneling of the older Wagoneer. Grand Wagoner Nameplate is Not returning in the far future, But as a separate vehicle, not just a fancy trim level.

Many new versions came online during the life cycle of the ZJ Grand Cherokee. The 1995 to 1997 model year Orvis version featured a signature hunter Green exterior with gold accents and a two-tone green-and-tan interior. The 1997–98 Grand Cherokee TSI was slightly sportier, with unique 16-inch wheels and a banging stereo system displaying control over a stumping wheel. 1998 saw the introduction of the Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited, featuring a 5.9-liter V8 with 245 hp. First Stirring of a Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, anyone?

The second-gen Grand Cherokee was quite beautiful.


WJ Grand Cherokee: more rugged, more sophisticated

When the second-gen Grand Cherokee arrived in 1999, it shared only 127 parts with the first-gen model (which is not much in the car). The base was moved to the 4.0-liter I6, but the older V8 was canned, replaced with a 235-hp, 4.7-liter V8. A four-speed automatic transmission was standard with a five-speed auto coming in 2001.

The Jeep’s four-wheel-drive technology received a major upgrade during this generation. The company’s Quadra-Trak II system brought a two-speed transfer case with 4-all, neutral and 4-low settings, the first of which will only send power to the rear wheels, but can transfer torque to the front when the wheel slips. . was detected. A new quadra-drive system was also introduced, which took everything great about the quadra-trek and added front and rear limited-slip differentials, instead of only front-to-back, side-to-side torque Allows vectoring.

Oh, and fun fact: Jeep’s then parent company, DaimlerChrysler, teamed up with Porsche to reinforce the Grand Cherokee’s unibody frame. Called UniFrame, the advanced construction added strength and rigidity to the Jeep’s platform, resulting in reduced noise, vibration and stiffness.

Inside, the WJ claimed more room for people and cargo, and controls were placed in more ergonomically friendly locations. Heated seats were available, as was dual-zone climate control and even a 10-disc CD changer. In 2004, WJ received a mild facelift with a new grille and round foglamps. At that time, drivers could also opt for an in-dash navigation system.

Grand Cherokee

Ooh, you imagine.


WK Grand Cherokee: More, More, More

The 2005 Grand Cherokee came with major changes, including an independent front suspension and a five-link rear axle. A 3.7-liter V6 engine was standard, producing 215 hp, but buyers could also get a 4.7-liter or 5.7-liter Hemi V8, the latter of which pushed a healthy 330 hp. All engines used a five-speed automatic transmission, and the upgraded Quadra-Drive II system electronically received front and rear differentials, as well as traction control.

The third-gen Grand Cherokee was much taller than its predecessor. Rectangular headlamps were swapped in favor of round units, and the D column was pushed forward, giving the Jeep a more rigid appearance. The 2005 model was initially only available in Laredo and Limited trims, but some pretty swank options joined the party, such as rear-seat DVD systems, automatic headlights, and eventually Bluetooth connectivity.

In 2006, two new editions arrived. You can’t miss the magnificent overland, but you’re sure the heck remembers the Grand Cherokee SRT8, which is filled with the snarling 6.1-liter Hemi V8 that offers 420 hp. With fat, sticky tires, Brembo brakes and Bilstein shocks, I remember driving no one and thinking that no SUV would be faster than this. The Jeep clearly proved me wrong there, and the company also offered a 3.0-liter diesel option starting in 2007. The 5.7-liter Hemi V8 also received an upgrade in 2009.

WK2 Grand Cherokee: a significant upgrade

When the WK2 Grand Cherokee launched in 2011, Jeep’s parent company was going through a difficult time. In fact, Chrysler used the development of this new Grand Cherokee to prove that its future vehicles would be built on a new, higher level.

The WK2 had a completely independent suspension geometry and offered a new terrain management system with Auto, Sport, Snow, Rock and Sand / Mud modes. This was when the Grand Cherokee introduced its Quadra-Lift Air Suspension, complementing the Quadra-Trak I, Quadra-Trak II and Quadra-Drive II four-wheel-drive systems.

A lot of the original WK Grand Cherokee underpinnings are still used today. This SUV was one of the first applications of Chrysler’s Pentastar 3.6-liter V6, although a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 was also introduced. Previous diesel and SRT8 options did not initially make the cut with the 2011 Grand Cherokee, but they eventually bounced back.

When the SRT8 rejoined the lineup in 2012, it packed a new 6.4-liter Hemi V8 with 4-liter hp. As a part of the 2014 model year, Chrysler dropped 8 from its name, to coincide with Chrysler’s short-term standalone SRT brand. Refresh also introduced the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6, which did not last very long and the luxurious Overland Summit model dropped the first part of its name, and still lives on as Summit.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk joined the lineup a few years later, with unique air suspension tuning that allows for 10-inch ground clearance, and a Quadra-Drive II four-wheel-drive system with celiac-control, off-road Received a type of. cruise control. The Grand Cherokee also featured 18-inch wheels with skid plates and off-road tires.

Jeep lost its mind for the 2018 model year and gave it to us TrackhawkWith Chrysler’s 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat V8 under the hood. The 475-hp SRT was still offered, but come on, who is offering a chance to own a 707-hp Jeep?

Today, the Grand Cherokee Laredo, Limited, is available in Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, SRT and Trackhawk variants, and offers a number of great technologies, including blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and Chrysler’s great Portcott infotainment system.

WL Grand Cherokee: 2021 model is almost here

All that history leads us to this week, when the fifth-gen Grand Cherokee makes its debut. 2021 Grand Cherokee Should be larger than the current model, with good cargo inside and a major technological upgrade. Don’t expect a large dual-screen setup from the new Grand Wagner, but a digital gauge cluster, rotary shift knob and a bunch of new active safety features will be offered. The V6 and V8 engines will likely be carrying, and will no doubt be used in a variety of four-wheel-drive systems.

After 10 years on the market, the current Jeep Grand Cherokee is definitely ready for an overhaul. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

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