What's New for 1999
The new-for-'99 Grand Cherokee contains only 127 carryover parts from the previous model, and gets a new powertrain, rear suspension, braking and steering systems, 4WD system, interior and exterior styling.
After a man vacationing in Utah snapped an unofficial spy photo of the redesigned Grand Cherokee and posted it on his website earlier this summer, hype over the much-anticipated remodeled Jeep escalated. Why? The photo showed a sleek, beefy sport-utility vehicle worthy of the Grand Cherokee nameplate. Receiving its first redesign since its introduction, designers treaded a fine line between incorporating new devices and retaining the traditional components that make a Jeep a Jeep. Signature items like the vertical slot grille and trapezoidal wheel openings remain, but are altered just enough to change the total look of the vehicle. The truck gets a toothier, raked grille that is less angular than the previous model, a steeply angled windshield, an arced roof and stretched wheel arches. Using the same 105.9-inch wheelbase from the Jeeps of old, engineers made the truck longer, higher and wider than before. We are happy to hear that step-in height is reduced by an inch while the driver seat gains an inch in height for those commanding views sport-utility connoisseurs love.
Inside the truck, you'll find an extra inch of headroom in front and an extra .5 inch in the rear, along with 1.2 more cubic feet of cargo room. Thankfully, the spare tire is relocated to beneath the floor of the cargo area. Jeep public relations executives are also clamoring about a "new level of luxury" and improved ergonomics inside the vehicle.
The 1999 Grand Cherokee will be offered with two new engines, but only one will be available in North America: the 4.7-liter V8 Power-Tech engine, which produces 235 hp @ 4800 rpm. Replacing the current 5.2-liter engine, this SOHC, 16-valve Power-Tech V8 makes 295 foot-pounds of torque @ 3200 rpm and has better fuel economy than its predecessor. The other engine available for North American consumers is the old 4.0-liter inline six-cylinder, which has been refined for more power and lower emissions.
Other improvements to the truck include standard all-wheel antilock brakes and full-time 4WD. The new braking system has electronic brake distribution capability, which makes for a quieter, less pulsing and more balanced braking experience. Possessing the largest brake rotors in the sport-utility segment, the Grand Cherokee meets or exceeds requirements for passenger vehicles, which are stricter than those for light trucks. The Quadra-Drive four-wheel drive system has never been used in a sport-ute, until now. The system keeps the vehicle moving even if only one wheel has traction.
While Jeep boasts about its testing of the Grand Cherokee's off-road capability on the Rubicon Trail, these sport-utes are rarely taken far from modern asphalt, making the on-road ride far more important to the suburbanites who will buy the vehicle. Recognizing that truth, a new automatic transmission has been introduced that will increase initial acceleration and provide smoother shifting between gears. Steering ability has also been enhanced and the new Grand Cherokee has a turning radius that is one foot tighter than the older model. The three-link rear suspension offers a smooth, car-like ride and reduces body lean, while the new hydroformed tubular control arms are five times as stiff as the previous design.
With all this, we are anticipating ride and handling like what you'd find in a luxury sedan. We are certain that the interior improvements will contribute to the high-end feel of the truck, and the snazzy exterior styling speaks for itself.