1997 GMC Jimmy Review

Pros & Cons

  • Spunky V-6 engine, crisp styling
  • No passenger airbag, very poor passenger crash test scores, cheesy plastic interior bits, uncomfortable seats
Other years
List Price Estimate
$664 - $1,339

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

1997 Highlights

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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 GMC Jimmy.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Just Okay
I bought my Jimmy from a friend on deployment largely because of a good price, low miles, and because it's an improvement over the $500 car I was driving, but it hasn't turned out to be as much of an improvement as I had hoped. The Jimmy is just another typical 90s American SUV. That means poor fuel economy, uncomfortable ride, poor build quality, cheap interiors, questionable reliability, and lackluster performance. In two months I've had to replace the intake manifold gaskets (common problem), lower ball joints (common problem), front and rear wiper motors (common problem), power steering lines (common problem), and now I think a U-joint is failing. It seems all the problems are common.
Excellent truck
SLS Sport 4dr SUV 4WD
I like GM vehicles and have owned my Jimmy since new. I think it works very well up here in our Canadian winters. I have had to do some repairs to major components but very vehicle out there needs maintance and repairs. My guess is that the trucks that people are having trouble with was likely from people not having the proper maintance preformed. Overall I love my Jimmy. It's comfortable, great in snow, handles and brakes well. The a/c and all the options work just as they should. Fuel milage is fair, but if I was really looking for mileage I would drive a Chevy Cavailer. When I go to replace my Jimmy I will buy another GM SUV without a doubt.
GMC Jimmy '97
SL 2dr SUV 4WD
The only major problems I have experienced with the Jimmy has been electrical - had to replace ignition switch which caused "CHECK ENGINE" light to stay on and the transmission to shift erratic. I also had an over heating problem that required me to replace the Radiator pluseI had a minor transmission leak where the shift lever enters the transmission body.
Greatest First Car
I have had this vehicle over a year now. It has really grown on me. I originally wanted a 1998 or newer Blazer, but I got my Jimmy instead. The 4.3 liter engine is outstanding. Every time someone sees my SUV they say that the engine in it is really good. GM designed the V6 really well. I get 20 miles per gallon city driving and around 23 highway. I am highly satisfied with that. I've always wanted the interior that the 1998 and up Jimmies have, but it is satisfactory. Never had any major mechanical or electrical problem. I have only replaced the front ball joints on the suspension arms and replaced the ignition wires in the steering column.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger1 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 GMC Jimmy

Used 1997 GMC Jimmy Overview

The Used 1997 GMC Jimmy is offered in the following submodels: Jimmy SUV. Available styles include SLS Sport 2dr SUV 4WD, SL 4dr SUV 4WD, SLS Sport 2dr SUV, SL 2dr SUV 4WD, SL 4dr SUV, SLE 4dr SUV, SL 2dr SUV, SLS Sport 4dr SUV, SLS Sport 4dr SUV 4WD, SLT 4dr SUV, SLT 4dr SUV 4WD, and SLE 4dr SUV 4WD.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 GMC Jimmy?

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Which used 1997 GMC Jimmies are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 GMC Jimmy?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out GMC lease specials
Check out GMC Jimmy lease specials