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If only style counted in the highly competitive sport utility market, Jeep's Grand Cherokee Limited would be the hands-down winner. As it is, Chrysler's ultimate Jeep offering has sales figures that fall behind segment leader Ford Explorer and the Chevy Blazer/GMC Jimmy offerings. It's held in high regard but penalized by a rather hefty price tag7---nearly $30,000 out the door depending on equipment and market.

The Grand Cherokee Limited leads the segment in power with the optional 220 horsepower 5.2-liter V8. This is an updated version-with sequential multi-port fuel injection-of Chrysler's venerable 318 V8. It is offered in the Limited model with the standard Quadra-Trac full-time four-wheel drive system, distributing power among the wheels as traction needs dictate. The most expensive Grand Cherokee model, the Limited, also includes standard equipment such as an anti-lock brake system (ABS) with disc brakes at all four wheels, automatic climate control and more.

Stomp on the gas in a V8-powered Grand Cherokee Limited and you get forceful motion (285 pound-feet of torque at 3600 rpm) and a satisfying growl from under the hood. With the V8, you also get a trailer towing prep package and towing capacity of up to 6500 pounds.

The standard engine on the Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited and all Grand Cherokees is the rugged, reliable but somewhat noisy 190 hp 4 liter. It improves mileage, but trailer towing capacity is lowered to 5,000 pounds and you lose the smoothness and broader power of the V8.


The Grand Cherokee Limited is a grand deceiver. Its looks, comfort and ride give very little clue to its serious off-road capabilities. The interior is a big part of this deception. It's cushy and more like a car. Yet visibility is better than most cars because of its more upright stance.

Front and rear seats have adjustable headrests. The rear seat has a 60/40 split back, folding to allow room for longer cargo while providing rear seating room. Seats are covered in leather as a standard feature. Location and operation of controls and switches are on a par with other sport utility vehicles. A tilt wheel and sport utility cruise control are standard with the Limited package. And, as is often the case with tilt wheels, it obscured some of the instruments.

While more comfortable than the Ford Explorer or the Chevy Blazer/GMC Jimmy brands, the seats in the Jeep Grand Cherokee need more lateral and lumbar support. Front and rear seat head, shoulder, hip and leg room are fine for four adults. But put a third person in the rear seat and it's a bit of a squeeze.

Cargo volume is 40.1 cubic feet. Fold the rear seatback forward and it is 79.6 cubic feet. The spare tire intrudes into the cargo area.

Interior lighting is good, with lights for the ashtray, cargo area, underhood, glove box, ignition switch and visor vanity mirrors. There are dome and map lights and courtesy lamps on the front doors. An overhead console is standard. Safety features are led by a driver's side air bag. AR outboard passengers have three-point lap/shoulder belts. Side doors are reinforced with steel beams to help protect occupants in side-impact collisions.


Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited has a more rounded, aerodynamic look than its predecessor, the Cherokee, or other sport utility brands. The coefficient of drag (resistance as it moves through air) is .44. While nowhere near the sleek contemporary coupe or sedan, this is very respectable for a 4WD vehicle.

The Limited model includes protective body armor in the form of bumper fascias and "cladding"-a stout molding protecting the rocker panels, lower fenders and doors. It is in body color with gold accents. Gold accents seem out of place on a sport utility vehicle-it's like chroming a shovel-but it is distinctive.

Fit and finish, while more truck-like than car-like, appear to be equal to or better than other sport utility brands.


This is where Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited's grand deception really comes into play. The ride is surprisingly comfortable and smooth-not choppy and bumpy like many sport utilities. Also, it falls thankfully short of the mushy "boulevard" ride. Given this, you have no real clue that this vehicle is capable of any more than shopping mall runs. But take it off road and you're in for a thrill.

We're talking grade-climbing, boulder-hopping, stream-crossing performance here. Run off-road and you keep looking around at this lush cabin and wondering if what you're seeing is what you're getting, because Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited can get it done. Ample power is there for steep grades, mud and sand. In our test, the full-time Quadra-Trac drive train, with its viscous couplings, kept power in to the wheels in the right amounts and the right time. Steering and suspension, at home on expressways, did well.

Our Grand Cherokee Limited had the Up Country suspension option, which adds all-terrain tires, heavier coil springs at all four wheels, high-pressure gas shocks and skid plates for vital parts. This is overkill for most sport utility buyers but worthwhile if you do any serious off-roading. It adds a bit of harshness to the ride, which we liked.

The Grand Cherokee is exceptionally free of road noise for an off-road capable vehicle. Although we detected no intrusive squeaks or rattles, the vehicle we tested was new, with fewer than 50 miles on it. Squeaks and rattles, especially in a vehicle driven off-road, tend to develop over time.

We especially liked the Limited's four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. There was little or no fade. Also, there was no jerking or bumping during the computer-controlled pumping of brakes that is sometimes experienced with ABS.


We like the Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited very much. It is pleasing to look at, easy to drive, comfortable on- or off-road and a strong performer. You can be happy with this vehicle even if you never leave the pavement. But leave the pavement and you have a most capable off-roader. The price is high-exceeded only by the Range Rover. And Ford Explorer, with its Limited Package (but with only a 160-hp V6 engine) comes close for a little less. Price aside, we like the Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited best-but who but a few of us can put price aside?

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