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1999 4x4 of the Year: Jeep Grand Cherokee

Posted in Project Vehicles on February 1, 1999 Comment (0)
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Photographers: 4-Wheel & Off-Road Staff

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Likes
•Strong engine and drivetrain
•Simply point and shoot while off road
•Suspension improvements

Dislikes
•Transfer-case shifter located where transmission shifter should be
•Typical Grand Cherokee gear whine
•New body style not a fave

The makers of the '99 Grand are proud of the fact that this is an entirely new vehicle-unless you want to get technical about those 127 carry-over parts-and well they should be. Slammed under the hood of the 4-inch-longer bod is a first for a Jeep vehicle, a 4.7L V-8. And it's got spunk. We like spunk. All voters found that they could punch the pedal to the new metal and the Jeep knew what to do. In fact, it was about a half second quicker than the previous generation's 5.2L V-8, thanks to more ponies and a 300-pound weight loss that would bring Richard Simmons to happy tears. It was by far the quickest at the 'strip, and off road, it couldn't have been easier to float across, up, and down sand dunes. Its top-notch compression braking was also duly noted. However, it was second-worst in fuel consumption and had us stopping frequently to fill its 20.5-gallon tank.

The fresh mill was well mated to the new electronically controlled 44RFE transmission that's basically a four-speed as it upshifts and a five-speed as it downshifts. First gear is 3.00:1, and, when gassed, the tranny has a second gear of 1.67:1; as it downshifts, it notes the speed and throttle position, then decides between the 1.67 or an alternate 1.50 gear for smoother shifting.

A bevy of other all-news hit this unibody, including a three-link rear suspension (replacing the old model's upper locating arms) and a refined front end-both did a decent job of soaking up bumps on fire roads and on the highway. Jeep also tweaked its recirculating-ball steering gear, which some now found twitchy on fire roads and heavy on the street while others judged it very precise. Also changed for the model year was the antilock braking system, which has electronic brake distribution, said to require less pedal pulsation and offer quieter operation. Not a big hit, since it was fifth worst in the 60-0 testing, and a couple of drivers complained of the brakes' sluggishness.

The interior of the '99 is much cleaner now that the computer-screen-sized door-ajar/tune-up/anniversary reminder display has been eliminated. Voters were less than elated about the interior's dark, dreary demeanor and cheap-looking wood grain, but they were digging the easy-to-discern gauges and controls and, in particular, the behind-wheel stereo buttons, a pleasant surprise in last year's 5.9 Limited Grand. Jeep has been gung-ho about its Infrared Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control system that allows passenger and driver to independently adjust airflow and temperature, but most of us simply couldn't get the vehicle as cool as we would have liked.

The cargo area has also been redesigned, relocating the spare tire from in the cargo area to beneath it (but still inside the vehicle) and freeing up so much space that one voter mentioned there was enough room for 5 to 10 dead bodies-oh, the things you learn about your co-workers while on a road trip.

Bottom line
A solid vehicle both on and off the road.

Specifications

General
Manufacturer Jeep
Model Grand Cherokee Limited
Base Price $33,890
Price as Tested $36,655
Options as Tested Cassette/10-disc
CD/Infinity speakers; Smoker's Group; 4.7L PowerTech V-8; power sunroof; P245/70R16 all-terrain tires; fullsize spare with matching wheel

Engine
Type SOHC, liquid-cooled V-8
Displacement (liters/cubic inches) 4.7/287
Bore & Stroke (inches) 3.66/3/40
Compression Ratio 9.3:1
Induction Type Sequential, multiport, electronic returnless fuel injection
Fuel Requirement/Capacity (gallons) 87 Octane
Unleaded regular/20.5
SAE Peak Horsepower 235 @ 4,800 rpm
SAE Peak Torque (lb-ft) 295 @ 3,200 rpm

Transmission
Type Multispeed Overdrive automatic
Model 45RFE
Ratios First: 3.00:1; Second: 1.67:1 upshift, 1.50:1 kickdown;
Third: 1.00:1; Fourth: 0.75:1; Reverse: 3.00:1

Transfer Case
Type Quadra-Trac II
Model NV247
Low-Range Ratio 2.72:1

Axles
Front Type Solid
Rear Type Solid
Hubs NA
Ratio 3.73:1

Suspension
Front Quadra-Link leading arms; track bar; coil springs
Rear Lower trailing arms; triangular upper arms; coil springs

Steering
Type Power-recirculating ball
Turns Lock-to-Lock/Ratio 3.1/14.2:1
Turning Radius (feet) 36:5

Wheels
Size (inches) 16x7
Material Cast-aluminum

Tires
Size P245/70R16
Brand Goodyear Eagle LS

Brake System
Front 12-inch vented discs with dual-piston sliding calipers
Rear 12-inch discs with single-piston sliding calipers

Weight
Advertised GVWR (pounds) 5,200

Mileage
As Tested (mpg) 11.89

Acceleration
Standing 1/4-mile (seconds @ mph) 16.63 @ 80.46

Braking
60-0 mph (feet) 119.65

Dimensions (inches)
Wheelbase 106.25
Overall Length 180.5
Overall Width 85.5
Overall Height 69
Front/Rear Track 59.5/59.5
Front/Rear Overhang 18/28.5
Minimum Front Ground Clearance 8.75

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