The Jeep Grand Cherokee Over Generations
From the beginning of time, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has been designed for on and off-road adventures. Unlike many trail rigs (like its Wrangler stablemate), the Grand Cherokee uses a unibody chassis instead of a body-on-frame setup for better manners on the pavement. Luxurious appointments and ample interior volume make it popular with urbanites and families.
Still, it’s a genuine Jeep that can go well off the beaten path. Over four generations, Jeep has continually improved the Grand Cherokee formula. Let’s see how it’s changed from then to now.
First Generation (1993-1998)
The first ZJ Grand Cherokee debuted sensationally at the 1992 Detroit Auto Show. That’s when Lee Iacocca drove it to Cobo Hall, up to a staircase, through a window, then onto the floor amidst whooping crowds, trailing a cascade of shattered glass behind it. The vehicle was initially powered by a 190-hp 4.0-liter I-6 engine sending power to either the rear or all four wheels, and it was based on a steel unibody.
The transmission that comes standard is the four-speed automatic, though Jeep briefly offered a five-speed manual. The available 5.9-liter V-8 with 245 hp and 345 lb-ft of torque made it the quickest SUV we’d ever tested. This 5.9 Limited set the stage for Grand Cherokees to follow in later generations.
Second Generation (1999-2005)
The Wrangler Jeep generation brought more rounded, sophisticated styling, along with some novel drivetrain technology. Its four-wheel-drive system relied on the rear-axle slippage which sent power to the front, and the automatic transmission used three planetary gear sets which had a divided second gear which, depending on the load. Now, there is a revised 4.0-liter I-6, and there’s also a more modern 4.7-liter V-8 which provides better acceleration and refinement.
Comfort, NVH, and ergonomics were improved over its predecessor. However, the robust axles were retained in the front and rear for the off-road performance. Keeping the solid axles in a long-term fleet, turned out to be a great all-rounder whether drivers were cruising city avenues or exploring chunky trails.
Third Generation (2005-2010)
The styling for the WK generation Grand Cherokee returned to its more boxy and angular roots. It’s standard engines ranged from a 3.7-liter V-6 to a 5.7-liter V-8, and the off-road capability was furthered by the low-range gearing and electronic limited-slip differentials available. Simultaneously, Jeep had replaced the solid front axle with an independent front suspension, and it added an available hydraulic active stabilizer system, and it enhances the on-road composure.
It paved the way for the 6.1-liter V-8-powered Grand Cherokee SRT8. In 2006 it was recorded to have a better 0-60, quarter-mile, skidpad, and slalom figures. That was twice-as-much as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
Fourth Generation (2011-Present)
Chrysler found itself in dire financial straits in the late 2000s. To survive, it had to bring its best. And with the WK2 Grand Cherokee, it did—it earned a lifesaving federal bailout.
The vehicle became more attractive and luxurious than ever; both in the inside and out. The new four-wheel available has an independent suspension which smoothes the ride on-road while adjusting air springs which allows over 11 inches of ground clearance in its highest off-road setting. The electronic control modes let the driver dial in traction in any situation whether you’re on pavement, sand, snow, or rock.
The standard engines on the vehicle were a 3.6-liter V-6 or a revised 5.7-liter V-8. However, the SRT8 made its return with a 475-hp 6.4-liter V-8. If that wasn’t enough, Jeep also created the Hellcat-powered Trackhawk with 707 hp.
Photo Credit: jeep.com