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Jeep Grand Cherokee History

The following historical data of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, manufactured by Jeep, were retrieved from many sources.

ZJ (1993-1998)

The ZJ Jeep Grand Cherokee models, manufactured from 1993 to 1998, originally came in three general trims, the Base, Laredo, and the Limited. The Base model offered basic features such as full instruments, cloth interior, a standard five-speed manual transmission, while soon gaining the SE name in 1994. Creature comforts like power windows and locks were not standard equipment on the SE, although conveniences like these were finally included in 1995; a somewhat contrasting price tag with minimal production numbers resulted with low consumer demand and dropping the now-uncommon bare-bone model forever.

The Laredo was the mid-scale model; standard features included added body cladding power windows, power door locks, and cruise control; exterior features displayed a medium gray plastic lower body paneling and five-spoke aluminum wheels. The Limited was the premium model, with lower body paneling being the same color as the vehicle color. The Limited also boasted standard features such as leather seating, optional power sunroof, mirrors, seats, and remote keyless entry system; heated mirrors, and heated seats, a basic onboard computer, and waffle-like cast aluminum wheels.

In 1995 the performance of the V8 engine was upgraded to 300 lb-ft from 285 previously. 1996 brought cosmetic changes ranging from improved body modeling and integrated fog lights. Interior features added dual airbags and increased fabric quality for seating. At the same time, the “Grand Cherokee” fender emblems in the American Motors-typeface dating back to 1974 were replaced with typeface used on other Chrysler vehicles. The AMC 4.0L straight-6 engine, able to tow 5,000 lb was also refined, through minimal loss in power but gained more torque and presented quieter operation. Limited models that year and onward had more luxury items such as driver placement memory, remote radio control from the steering wheel, and variable assist while driving and parking.

Four-wheel drive systems included Command-Trac, a part-time unit offering temporary 4-wheel assistance; Command-Trac was dropped from lineup in conjunction with the SE trim in 1996. Selec-Trac had the option of either full-time or part-time operation; both shift-on-the-fly Command-Trac and Selec-Trac were already available for the Cherokee, and they were adapted to the Grand Cherokee. Exclusive to the Grand Cherokee was the introduction of Quadra-Trac system with permanent all-time four-wheel assistance. This was option on all models.

WJ (1999-2004)

The redesigned WJ 199 Grand Cherokee shared just 127 parts with its predecessor. The spare tire was relocated from the side of the cargo compartment to under the floor to great relief of owners. The two heavy pushrod V8 engines were replaced by Chrysler’s then-new PowerTech. This engine produced less torque than both previous V8s, but was lighter and got much better fuel economy and provided similar on road performance figures. The inline-6 engine was also updated in 1999. 10 horsepower was added by redesigning the intake manifold. While other Jeep vehicles used the Mopar 5 x 4.5 bolt circle, this was the first jeep following the 1987 Chrysler buyout to receive a wider bolt pattern – 5x5.

The interior was also completely redesigned in 1999. The redesign allowed for larger rear doors and more space for rear passengers. Controls for various items like headlights, heated seats, and rear wiper were moved to more convenient locations. The electronic Vehicle Information center was moved from below the radio to above the windshield, and was standard on all 2000 and up models. Limited models included automatic dual-zone climate control. A 10-disc CD-Changer was also available with the Infinity Audio package.

In addition to Jeep’s UniFrame construction, DaimlerChrysler partnered with Porsche to further strengthen the frame. This was done to reduce NVH and improve off-road performance. UniFrame is an unusual construction scheme; it incorporates all of the strength and durability of a body-on-frame construction into a unitized construction. By adding stiffness and rigidity to the structure, they enhanced the ride and strengthened the network of steel beams, rails and pillars that surround and protect occupants. More than 70 percent of the underbody is high-strength steel. All Jeep Grand Cherokees feature UniFrame construction. In 2004, the Jeep Grand Cherokee received a minor facelift including round fog lights, a lower front fascia, and a new body-color matched inset grille design.

The Laredo and luxurious Limited trim levels were standard models. The specialty models included: Sport, Special Edition, Overland, Columbia Edition, and Freedom Edition.

WK (2005-2010)

The all-new WK Jeep Grand Cherokee debuted in 2004 for the 2005 model year. Features available for the first time in a Jeep included Quadra-Drive II four-wheel drive, rear-sear DVD player and optional 5.7L Hemi V8. The 3.7L V6 engine replaced the 4.0L Straight-6. The design still emphasizes power and luxury, with significant work done on improving noise, vibration, and harshness. However, for the first time, Jeep also emphasized on-road performance to a similar extent as the cornerstone of its brand, off-road capability.

The newfound emphasis on on-road refinement led Jeep to replace the live-axle with leading-arms front suspension with a new design: an independent double-wishbone setup like that which debuted in the 2002 Liberty. The new Jeep changed its philosophy due to what it perceived as increasing demand in the SUV marketplace for on-road performance and decreasing demand for off-road capability, and though the new design is perceived to be more smooth over washboard-types of roads, the new front suspension has been heavily criticized by off-roading Jeep community for its reduced overall durability and inability to provide optimal axle articulation during low-speed, technical maneuvers, specifically over uneven terrain.

The 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee made its European debut at the Euro Camp Jeep held in Ardèche, France. The Grand Cherokee received a minor facelift for 2008. The bottom part of the headlights became rounded, and the lower portion of the front bumper became removable to increase the approach angle for off-road use. The 4.7L was refined, now producing 305 hp, and 334 ft-lb of torque.

The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee is available with an improved 5.7L Hemi engine rated at 357 hp and 389 ft-lb of torque. The engine uses variable valve timing to increase fuel economy. The models for the WK Jeep Grand Cherokee were: Laredo, Limited, Overland, and SRT-8.

WK2 (2011-Present)

The next generation Jeep Grand Cherokee went on sale in the summer of 2010 as a 2011 model. It was unveiled at the 2009 New York Auto Show. Like the previous generations, the chassis is a steel uniframe. Engine choices include the all new 3.6L Pentastar V6 and 5.7L Hemi V8. Four-wheel drive systems include Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II, and Quadra-Drive II. Optional Quadra-Lift suspension can raise vehicle’s ground clearance up to 11.1 inches.

Some common features are lost with this generation, however, with the handbrake being replaced by a footbrake, the wiper stalk on the right side of the steering column being moved to the turn signal stalk, which also means the lights move to the dash. When the Jeep Grand Cherokee begins export in 2011 a diesel will also be offered, which is a 2.8L VM Motori unit rated at 195 hp.

[Source: Wikipedia and Jeep Grand Cherokee]