Used 1999 GMC Jimmy Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1999

There are three new colors and revised outside mirrors, but most changes to the '99 Jimmy are inside. You'll find new power-seating features, redundant radio controls and a mini-module depowered airbag in the steering wheel, as well as a new Bose premium sound system and six-disc CD changer. A vehicle content theft alarm, flash-to-pass headlamp feature and liftgate ajar warning lamp have also been added. Four-wheel-drive versions get the new AutoTrac active transfer case and four-door models gain a tow/haul mode for the transmission. Finally, the optional Z85 Euro-Ride suspension has been retuned.

Vehicle overview

GMC has the unenviable job of marketing the Jimmy as a luxury SUV, thanks to brand managers who are trying to position GMC products as distinctly upscale from Chevrolet. The problem is the Jimmy is essentially identical to the Chevy Blazer and Oldsmobile Bravada. With few distinguishing characteristics to set it apart from either of its stablemates, Jimmy marketers have their work cut out for them. This leaves only one way to convince buyers that the Jimmy?not the Blazer or Bravada?is the one to buy, and that's slick advertising.

Despite a minor redesign for 1998, four-door styling is on the staid side, but the two-doors carry a fastback profile 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 foot room under front seats. Basically, the back seat should be reserved for kiddies.

Though exceptionally sure-footed in a straight line, a Jimmy can feel momentarily top-heavy during a sharp maneuver at speed, but that's because it's easy to forget you're driving a sport-utility. On snow-covered pavement and off road, the four-wheel-drive Jimmy inspires confidence, whether maintaining traction while accelerating, or trying to recapture grip through a turn.

All-wheel drive, formerly an option, is no longer available on the Jimmy, but you won't miss it. The new-for-'99 AutoTrac 4WD push-button electronic two-speed transfer case senses wheel slippage and delivers power to the axle with the most traction automatically. Four-wheel antilock braking helps bring this compact sport-ute to a prompt halt, and all models employ four-wheel discs. Depowered airbags are standard. Acceleration is strong from the standard 4300 Vortec V6, and the smooth, four-speed automatic suffers little lag when downshifting. There's a new Tow/Haul mode button standard on four-door versions that optimizes shift points when your Jimmy is heavily burdened. A five-speed manual transmission is available on two-door models.

Other news this year includes revised power seats, upgraded sound systems, steering wheel radio controls and a vehicle content theft alarm. The headlamp stalk now has a flash-to-pass feature, and a new warning lamp reveals if you haven't properly latched the rear liftgate.

A "Truck Body Computer'' controls the PassLock theft deterrent system, automatic headlights, battery rundown protection, retained accessory power, and lockout prevention features. For cold-weather service, buyers of the SLT 4WD can opt for heated front seats, and exterior mirrors can be ordered with a defrost mode, with the electrochromic self-dimming feature now available on the driver's side.

The hardest thing about Jimmy-shopping is deciding what to include. Suspension choices stretch all the way from smooth to off-road. Plus there's base (SL) and sport (SLS) two-door, as well as the base (SL), comfort (SLE) and luxury/touring (SLT) four-door trim levels from which to choose. Finally, you've got a huge option list with which to contend. Overdo it, and the price tag can zip skyward in a hurry, though this GMC can offer 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.