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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Off-road, it's up with the best; and, it's good value, too

Against Cars such as the BMW X5 show up its limitations on-road, and petrol engines are thirsty

Verdict It's great if you want an off-roader, but more road-focused 4x4s show up its limitations

Go for… 2.7 CRD Limited

Avoid… 4.7 V8 Overland

Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4
  • 1. For accommodation, the Jeep lags behind rivals such as the BMW X5 and Mercedes M-Class
  • 2. The automatic gearbox can give up the ghost after six years and 60,000 miles
  • 3. Front wheel bearings are weak points, as is the air-con
  • 4. The low-set rear seat can only really take two in comfort
  • 5. The Grand Cherokee's boot is a good size
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Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4 full review with expert trade views

The Grand Cherokee shows only too clearly how the 4x4 market has changed. In 1999 and 2000, it was top of many people's tree, but it was quickly overtaken by the BMW X5, a new breed of 4x4 that emphasised its on-road performance.

By any standards, the Grand Cherokee remains superb off-road. But, on Tarmac, it's well behind more modern rivals. The ride never seems to settle, the steering is too light and the automatic gearbox rarely seems to be in the right ratio.

For accommodation, too, the Jeep lags behind rivals such as the X5 and Mercedes M-Class. The front seats don't give enough support over long distances and the low-set rear seat can only really take two in comfort, and even then not for long. At least the boot is a good size, though.

Trade view

John Owen

Good off-roader, should stay there, avoid petrol at all cost

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Because this is a genuine off-roader, a diesel engine is the obvious choice. However, the only diesel worth considering - the 2.7-litre unit from Mercedes - didn't arrive until the end of the 2001. It's far better than the thirsty, unrefined 3.1-litre unit that it replaced.

On older cars, you're better off with the 4.0-litre petrol engine. Not only is it better than the diesel, it's also cheaper to buy, although you may be put off by the fact that you'll struggle to manage 20mpg. Even so, it's good enough to make the 4.7 V8 seem a pointless expense.

The impressive levels of equipment across the range mean you'll never feel short-changed with a Grand Cherokee, and early cars came only in lavish Limited trim. This remains the trim to choose on any age of car, even over the Sport and luxury Overland (with leather seats and CD multichanger), which joined the range later.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Big V8 engines have to be cheap, 4.0 Limited or any CRD better

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The most attractive thing about the Grand Cherokee is its price. Compared with a similarly equipped Mercedes M-Class or Land Rover Discovery of the same age, it's a cheaper car to buy.

Running it, however, is a different matter entirely, with fuel economy a particular problem. None of the petrol engines returns more than 20mpg, and while that's on a par with other V8 4x4s, the smaller six-cylinder engine in, say, a Mercedes M-Class will cost you less.

Insurance costs are also higher than you would have to pay on a contemporary Land Rover Discovery, but servicing costs are pretty much par for the course for a big 4x4.

However, if you need unscheduled maintenance, prepare for a big bill. Although Warranty Direct tells us labour rates at Jeep dealers are only a little above average, average bills for Jeeps are among the highest of all makes', even above those for Land Rovers.

Trade view

John Owen

Good off-roader, should stay there, avoid petrol at all cost

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Warranty Direct warns of some problems that could be expensive to fix. The automatic gearbox can give up the ghost after six years and 60,000 miles, and both the air-con and front wheel bearings are weak points.

Overall, Warranty Direct says there are far more claims than average on Jeeps, more even than on Land Rovers, and considerably more than on Mitsubishis. The smaller Cherokee's 110th place finish in the 2005 JD Power survey (out of 124), also does little to calm the nerves of potential buyers.

Four recalls have affected the Grand Cherokee: there was a problem with faulty fuel gauges on cars built after February 1999; some cars built before the end of that year had possible problems with the front brakes; there was a risk of debris on the exhaust causing under-bonnet fires on some cars built in 2001/2002; and on others built in 2002, it was possible that the side airbag might not work properly.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Big V8 engines have to be cheap, 4.0 Limited or any CRD better

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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