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Jeep Grand Cherokee Through The Years

Steven Mitchell

Let’s look at a map of what forms this iconic Jeep has taken through the years and how it’s evolved into the Grand Cherokee generations we see today

The Other Well-Known Jeep

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee - media.fcanorthamerica.com

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee – media.fcanorthamerica.com |  Shop Jeep Grand Cherokees on Carsforsale.com

Since its inception, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has forged a mid-size SUV segment path from dirt roads to boulevards. While this Jeep has become more road instead of trail focused, there are enough models and trims to meet many SUV owners’ tastes. Let’s look at the many Jeep Grand Cherokee generations this iconic SUV has taken through the years, and how it’s evolved into the Grand Cherokee we see today.

First Grand Cherokee Generation (1993 – 1998)

1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee - media.fcanorthamerica.com
1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee - media.fcanorthamerica.com
  • The Grand Cherokee was originally conceived as the replacement for the Cherokee, even though Cherokee sales were still very strong.
  • The SUV segment started becoming the newest big thing, so Jeep decided to take on both the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee for their lineup.
  • The Grand Cherokee was the first serious competitor to the hugely successful Ford Explorer launched in 1990.
  • Robert Lutz, Chrysler‘s president, drove Detroit mayor, Coleman Young, up the steps of Cobo Hall and through a plate-glass window to show off the new vehicle at the Detroit Auto Show.
1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.0L I6 - carsforsale.com
1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.0L I6 - carsforsale.com
  • The Jeep Grand Cherokee was the first Chrysler-badged Jeep product.
  • The Grand Cherokee replaced the Wagoneer as a mid-sized luxury SUV – a design class many automakers would rush to imitate.
  • Jeep’s Grand Cherokee always had unibody construction when most SUV’s of the same time were body on frame.
  • European Grand Cherokees were manufactured in Austria by Magna Steyr.
  • The Grand Cherokee was the first SUV equipped with a driver-side airbag.
1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee - media.fcanorthamerica.com
1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee - media.fcanorthamerica.com
  • The first Grand Cherokees were powered by a 4.0L 6-cylinder engine, producing 190hp.
  • In 1993, a 5.2L V8 engine was optional for this Grand Cherokee generation, producing 220hp.
  • The 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee had a faux woodgrain option, due to the nostalgia of the Wagoneer. It only hung around for a year before it was dropped.
  • In 1994, Jeep dropped the manual transmission option in the US due to poor sales.
  • The 1995 Grand Cherokee featured standard 4-wheel disc brakes on every trim.
  • An optional Orvis Grand Cherokee model was introduced with Quadra-Trac full-time 4-wheel-drive.
1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee - carsforsale.com
1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee - carsforsale.com
  • Command-Track part-time 4-wheel-drive was dropped from all Jeep Grand Cherokee models in 1996.
  • Jeep introduced driver and passenger-side airbags in 1996.
  • The Grand Cherokee TSi was introduced in 1997 with a sport suspension, alloy wheels, leather seat, and premium audio.
  • With the a 5.9L V8 engine from the Dodge RAM, 1998 Grand Cherokee Limited as the world’s fastest SUV, with a 0-60 time of 7.3 seconds. It announced itself with a low restriction exhaust note.

Second Grand Cherokee Generation (1999 – 2004)

2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland - carsforsale.com
2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland - carsforsale.com
  • The second generation Jeep Grand Cherokee was redesigned with softer, rounded sculpting and all-around larger dimensions.
  • This generation was characterized by improved interior space and comfortable ride quality thanks to the redesigned suspension.
2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland - media.fcanorthamerica.com
2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland - media.fcanorthamerica.com
  • An updated version of the base 4.0L I6 engine was still available, alongside a new 4.7L V8 engine that replaced the 5.2L I6. The new V8 produced 235hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
  • A new top-of-the-line edition called Overland debuted in the second generation. It had a high-output 265 hp, 325 lb-ft V8 engine, real wood accents, suede leather trim, curtain side airbags, 17-inch wheels, and an Up Country suspension, which was a 1-in suspension lift.
2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo - carsforsale.com
2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo - carsforsale.com
  • 1999 was the vehicle’s best sales year ever, with over 300,000 sold.
  • In 2000, the 2 millionth Grand Cherokee is built.
  • Jeep introduced the new Grand Cherokee Laredo Sport edition in 2002.

Third Grand Cherokee Generation (2005 – 2010)

2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee - media.fcanorthamerica.com
2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee - media.fcanorthamerica.com
  • For 2005, a 3.7L V6 engine replaced the 4.0L I6. A 4.7L V8, and a 5.7L Hemi V-8 were also offered.
  • Three full-time 4WD systems were offered: Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II, and Quadra-Drive II.
  • An independent double-wishbone suspension replaced the older live-axle, and the Grand Cherokee became more highway focused instead of off-road.
2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee - media.fcanorthamerica.com
2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee - media.fcanorthamerica.com
  • For the first time in any of the Grand Cherokee generations, a rack and pinion steering setup is used.
  • Jeep offered a rear-seat DVD player option for the first time in the third generation.
  • Improvements to the 3.7L and 5.7L engines helped Grand Cherokees achieve more power in a mid-generation update.
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2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0L V6 Diesel - carsforsale.com
2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0L V6 Diesel - carsforsale.com
  • The Overland option made its way back in 2006. There’s no 1-inch lift suspension this time around, just it’s just wood, leather, and platinum trimmings with a 5.7L Hemi.
  • The 6.1L Hemi V8 making 420hp and 420 lb-ft of torque was introduced in the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 for 2006. It’s 0-60 time was under 5 seconds.
  • A 3.0L Mercedes-Benz made V6 Diesel engine was an option for the Limited and Overland editions in 2007 for everyone except California residences.
2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee - media.fcanorthamerica.com
2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee - media.fcanorthamerica.com
  • Daimler sold Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management during this generation.
  • In 2008, this Jeep Grand Cherokee gets Sirius TV for the back seat.
  • The Laredo trim received a diesel engine in 2008.
  • All diesel engines were later dropped in 2009.

Fourth Grand Cherokee Generation (2011 – Present)

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee - media.fcanorthamerica.com
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee - media.fcanorthamerica.com
  • The 2011 redesign of the Grand Cherokee moved toward a more modern SUV design while maintaining its classically styled Jeep DNA.
  • For the first time, a Jeep Grand Cherokee got fully independent suspension on all four wheels.
  • Adjustable air-springs gave the Grand Cherokee more than 11-inches of ground clearance.
  • A new 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine was standard, followed by a 5.7L Hemi V8 engine.
  • The 2011 Grand Cherokee won 30 awards, including awards for off-road capability, luxury, value, and best-in-class.
2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.4L V8 - carsforsale.com
2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.4L V8 - carsforsale.com
  • The 2012 Grand Cherokee SRT-8 featureed a 470hp 6.4L Hemi V8 engine with AWD and reaches 0-60 in 4.7 seconds.
  • The 2013 version of the Grand Cherokee picked up new headlights and a refreshed front bumper design.
  • The Overland option disappeared from the lineup.
  • New underbody shields and a higher ground clearance appear on the 2013 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk trim.
  • Jeep added an EcoDiesel V6 in 2014 that achieves up to 30mpg highway.
2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk - media.fcanorthamerica.com
2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk - media.fcanorthamerica.com
  • New 360-degree cameras appear on the 2013 Grand Cherokees for the first time to assist in parking.
  • The Trailhawk trim picked up black leather and suede seats with red accent stitching.
  • Jeep added cylinder deactivation technology to the SRT-8 version of the Grand Cherokee, giving it better gas mileage when not going full-throttle.
  • Jeep claims that the SRT-8 Jeep Grand Cherokee can now travel up to 500 miles on a single tank of gas with its larger gas tank.
  • The Jeep Grand Cherokee’s fourth generation received electronic control mode selections for pavement, snow, sand, or rock.
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk - media.fcanorthamerica.com
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk - media.fcanorthamerica.com
  • In 2018, an active exhaust system lets FCA’s cylinder-deactivating Fuel Saver Technology operate over a wider rpm range.
  • Jeep created the Hellcat-powered Trackhawk in 2018 with a 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds.
  • This Grand Cherokee generation has an optional Quadra-Lift adjustable suspension that can increase ground clearance up to 11.1 in.
  • Safety features like a backup camera, blind-spot monitors, and forward collision mitigation warnings are all available in current Grand Cherokees.
  • There are currently 7 2021 Grand Cherokee trim levels to choose from.

The Future of the Grand Cherokee

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk - media.fcanorthamerica.com

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk – media.fcanorthamerica.com |  Shop new Jeep Grand Cherokees on Carsforsale.com

Although we’re not entirely sure what the future holds for the next Jeep Grand Cherokee generations, the 2021 model may be the last of the older body Cherokee. The current Grand Cherokee is the only Jeep model that hasn’t seen a complete overhaul in recent years.

Speculation is that the 2022 Grand Cherokee will be built on the Alfa Romeo Stelvio platform, bringing the possibilities of comfort, luxury, and sport performance to a much higher level. We can be sure that whatever happens, the next Grand Cherokee generation will still have that Jeep DNA we’ve come to love.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Steven Mitchell
Steven Mitchell

Steve's first car had pedals, and he's been filled with passion for four wheels ever since. He lives and breathes the car life as a technologist, futurist, and writer while keeping up with the whys, hows, and plans of the automotive industry. His automotive journey began with a fully restored Triumph TR3b that he sadly never appreciated until decades later. Ownerships of X-1/9's, BMW's, an SVT and a Dodge Ram Hemi have given way to the house of Audi Sport. You'll also find him as an endurance athlete on the bike in SoCal, but you'll know he's thinking about cars.

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