Used 1998 GMC Jimmy Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1998

A revised interior contains dual second-generation airbags, improved climate controls and available premium sound systems. Outside, the front bumper, grille and headlights are new. Side cladding is restyled and SLT models have new alloy wheels. Fresh colors inside and out sum up the changes.

Vehicle overview

GMC has the unenviable job of marketing the Jimmy as a luxury SUV now that the Pontiac-GMC merger is 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.

Despite a minor redesign for 1998, 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-door models increases cargo space. Headroom is immense and 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.

All-wheel drive, formerly an option, is no longer available on the Jimmy. Four-wheel antilock braking helps haul the sport-ute to a prompt halt, and all models gain four-wheel discs for 1998. Drivers and passengers face second-generation de-powered airbags. Acceleration is strong from the standard 4300 Vortec V6 engine, and the smooth four-speed automatic suffers little lag when downshifting. A five-speed manual transmission is available on two-door models.

Other news for the new year includes a revised interior with a softer appearance and better ergonomics. Bodyside cladding has been restyled, and the top-of-the-line SLT 4WD is equipped with some God-awful alloy wheels. The back bumper gets a center step cutout to improve access to the cargo area and roof rack. New audio systems debut, and buyers of the SLT 4WD can opt for heated front seats. Something called a Truck Body Computer controls the PassLock theft deterrent system, automatic headlights, battery rundown protection, retained accessory power and lockout prevention features. Exterior mirrors can be ordered with a defrost mode for snowy days and nights.

The hardest duty in Jimmy-shopping is deciding what to include. Suspension choices stretch from smooth to off-road. Expect some bounce and roll from the Luxury Ride suspension, but it's compliant and responds quickly. Sport (SLS), comfort (SLE) and touring (SLT) 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 all-wheel-drive 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.