Used 1997 GMC Jimmy Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1997

Highrider off-road package deleted as GMC realigns Jimmy as luxury sport-ute. Instead, buyers can opt for a Gold Edition in one of four colors. New options include a power sunroof and HomeLink universal transmitter. Radar Purple and Bright Teal paint colors are replaced by Fairway Green and Smoky Caramel.

Vehicle overview

GMC has the unenviable job of marketing the Jimmy as a luxury SUV now that the Pontiac-GMC merger is nearly complete and crazed brand managers think GMC products need to be perceived as upscale from Chevrolet. Essentially identical to the Blazer and Oldsmobile Bravada, with no distinguishing characteristics to set it apart from either of these models, Jimmy marketers have their work cut out for them. Tightly sandwiched between the Blazer and Bravada, there is only one way to convince buyers that the Jimmy is the one to buy: slick advertising.

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. Upgraded versions can be luxuriously equipped, 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 there's no room under front seats for feet. 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 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. Gone this year is the stout Highrider package that included a raised suspension, big fat tires, and wider track.

If you don't care to switch between two- and four-wheel drive, an all-wheel drive Jimmy joined the lineup last year. Four-wheel antilock braking helps haul the sport-ute to a prompt halt, and AWD models gain four-wheel discs for 1997. Drivers face an airbag. A passenger side bag is still not available, despite dismal crash test scores. Acceleration is strong from the standard 4300 Vortec V6 engine, and the smooth four-speed automatic suffers little lag when downshifting. Engineers have improved the transmission for 1997, making it shift smoother. A manual 'box is available only on two-door models.

Other news for the new year includes a Gold Edition available on green, white, black, or dark red Jimmys. A power sunroof is a new option, and buyers who prefer a liftgate with liftglass over the standard split tailgate can opt for it this year. A HomeLink universal transmitter joins the options list, and a floor shifter is standard when bucket seats are specified. Bilstein gas-pressure shock absorbers are new to the standard equipment list, and AWD models get aluminum wheels. Speed-sensitive volume and automatic tone control are standard on Jimmys equipped with an in-dash CD player.

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 slightly 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.