Used 1996 GMC Jimmy Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

GMC's popular compact sport-utility gets an optional off-road package called Highrider, as well as an available five-speed transmission. Either of these are available on two-door models only. All Jimmys receive glow-in-the-day headlights and long-life engine coolant. Spark plugs last 100,000 miles. All-wheel drive, which became optional in mid-1995, continues. Conspicuously absent is a passenger airbag.

Vehicle overview

Redesigned for 1995 from the ground up, along with its Chevrolet counterpart, this tough compact sport-utility from GM's truck division looks like a Blazer and drives like a tall car. Based on the Sonoma compact pickup, it's a big improvement over the archaic prior version. GMC aimed at boosts in ride quality, rigidity, handling and quietness. Result: an impressively talented machine.

Four-door styling is on the staid side, but two-doors are fastback-profiled with a distinctive side-window treatment. A Jimmy is comfortable, easy to handle, and fun to drive. Upgrade versions can contain plenty of poshness, but each rugged rendition looks and feels tough--a little more truck-like than the similar Blazer. An under-the-floor spare tire on four-doors increases cargo space. Headroom is immense, elbow space excellent. There's room for two in back; maybe three if you enjoy hearing comfort complaints while you drive, but the short seat feels hard and offers very little leg support. Basically, the back seat should be reserved for kiddies.

Though exceptionally sure-footed most of the time, a Jimmy can feel momentarily unstable and top-heavy in a sharp maneuver--but only if you forget what you're driving. On snowy pavement, you almost have to try hard to make a four-wheel-drive Jimmy skid. Whether maintaining traction while accelerating, or trying to recapture grip through a turn, 4WD delivers a strong feeling of confidence. New this year is a stout Highrider package than includes a raised suspension, big fat tires, and wider track. The Highrider is available only on two-door Jimmys.

If you don't care to switch between two- and four-wheel drive, a full-time 4WD Jimmy joined the lineup late last year. Four-wheel antilock braking helps haul the sport-ute to a prompt halt, and drivers face an airbag. A passenger side bag is still not available. Acceleration is strong from the standard 4300 Vortec V6 engine, and the smooth four-speed automatic suffers little lag when downshifting. A manual 'box is newly available only on two-door models.

Daytime running lights debut for 1996, and the V6 gets long-life coolant and spark plugs. A fuel cap tether keeps owners from losing their fuel cap, and the rear seatback latch is quieter and easier to use. Some dashboard graphics have been modified in an effort to make them easier to understand.

The hardest duty in Jimmy-shopping is deciding what to include. Suspension choices stretch from smooth to off-road. Expect some bounce from the Luxury Ride suspension, but it's compliant and responds quickly. Sport, comfort and touring decor packages are available. Then there's the huge option list to contend with. Overdo it, and the toll can zip skyward in a hurry, though this GMC represents better value than Oldsmobile's Bravada.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.