Jeep Grand Cherokee Generation Summary
The first Jeep Grand Cherokee debuted at the 1992 North American Auto Show when Chrysler president Robert Lutz drove it through a plate of glass at Detroit's Cobo Hall to show off its capability. Though merely a marketing ploy, this action would prove indicative of the Grand Cherokee's attitude and development through the coming years.
It was initially designed as a replacement for the regular Jeep Cherokee but ended up being more of a substitute for the Grand Wagoneer that was discontinued in 1991, and Cherokee sales justified its own continued existence. American Motors was developing the basis for the eventual Grand Cherokee before Chrysler bought Jeep from them in 1987. It was the first Jeep product launched under Chrysler, as well as the first Jeep to use computer-aided design software, ensuring engineering efficiency and consistency.
2011 - Present Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK2 4th Generation)
2011 marked the most recent generational change for the Grand Cherokee with thoroughly modern styling updates, improved technology, further refinement, and several new engine options. It shares its platform with the closely-related Dodge Durango. The new 290 horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and 360 horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8 both came standard with a 5-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel-drive remains standard while four-wheel-drive options come with Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II, or Quadra-Drive II drive systems through today.
Updated features included available ventilated seats, HID headlights, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, four-wheel independent suspension, and air suspension. The Grand Cherokee SRT8 returned for 2012, featuring a 6.4-liter V8 engine that produced 470 horsepower. The new Trailhawk trim was introduced in 2017 as an off-road-focused version of the Grand Cherokee with added ruggedness, additional off-road features, and larger tires.
2014 saw a mid-cycle refresh with models receiving extensive updates, including a new 8-speed automatic transmission and several styling revisions. The Grand Cherokee SRT8 was renamed the SRT. A new edition to the Grand Cherokee lineup came in 2018 with the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. It features the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 from the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and produces 707 horsepower, making it the most powerful SUV currently on sale.
2005 - 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK 3rd Generation)
2005 saw another complete redesign of the Grand Cherokee, known internally as the WK. The 4.0-liter, six-cylinder engine was replaced with a 3.7-liter V6 engine, producing 210 horsepower. The 4.7-liter V8 carried over from the previous generation, making 230 horsepower, while a new 5.7-liter Hemi V8 was added to the lineup and produced 325 horsepower. A 5-speed automatic transmission came standard with rear-wheel-drive. Four-wheel-drive was optional with the newly available Quadra-Drive II four-wheel-drive system.
The WK's front fascia was flatted, and its overall design returned to the original Grand Cherokee's boxy styling roots. Independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering were firsts for the Grand Cherokee. Options included an infotainment system, side curtain airbags, and navigation, with remote start and a backup camera becoming available several years after its release. Side curtain airbags became standard in 2007 with a slight styling refresh coming shortly after that in 2008.
Several mid-cycle powertrain changes came between 2006 and 2009. The Grand Cherokee SRT8 was added to the lineup in 2006, featuring a 6.1-liter V8 engine that produced 425 horsepower. A 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine, producing 210 horsepower, was offered in 2007. 2008 came with a new 4.7-liter V8, producing 305 horsepower, and 2009 welcomed efficiency improvements and a power bump to 357 horsepower for the 5.7-liter Hemi V8. Both the turbodiesel V6 and 4.7-liter V8 were dropped for 2010.
1999 - 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee (WJ 2nd Generation)
The WJ Jeep Grand Cherokee was completely redesigned for the 1999 model year. Its previous boxy shape became rounded and sleek. It grew from the previous generation, and a new 4.7-liter V8 engine, producing 235 horsepower, replaced the 5.2-liter V8 from the ZJ. The 4.0-liter straight six remained the standard engine, though power was increased to 195 horsepower. A redesigned 4-speed automatic transmission remained standard. A new Quadra-Drive four-wheel-drive system featured progressive locking differentials, though rear-wheel drive remained standard.
Other updates to the WJ included a CD player, more passenger space, interior revisions, and side-curtain airbags. The top-of-the-line Overland trim featured a more powerful high-output V8 engine, which produced 265 horsepower, and became available halfway through the WJ's production run in 2002. A minor styling facelift came in 2003.
2004 was the final year of WJ production and included several more minor styling updates as well as several special edition models, including the Columbia and Rocky Mountain Editions.
1993 - 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee (ZJ 1st Generation)
The ZJ was first offered as a 1993 model. It was built on a monocoque frame, provided luxury touches such as power windows, keyless entry, and four-wheel ABS, and was set to compete directly with the Ford Explorer. Three trims were initially available: Base (later changed to SE), Laredo, and Limited, though the SE trim was dropped after only a few years.
A 5-speed manual transmission was standard with an optional 4-speed automatic transmission. In 1995, the manual transmission was discontinued due to low consumer demand, and the 4-speed automatic became standard. The very first Grand Cherokees were only available with AMC's 4.0-liter straight-six engine, producing 190 horsepower. Shortly after its debut, an optional 5.2-liter V8, producing 220 horsepower, became available. For its last production year in 1998, the first-generation Grand Cherokee Limited received a larger 5.9-liter V8 engine option producing 245 horsepower.
Minimal additions accompanied the ZJ Grand Cherokee through its infancy, though small improvements such as four-wheel disc brakes, the addition of a passenger-side air bag, ride quality improvements, and several appearance packages were offered throughout its first run.