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While some other SUVs were manufactured with body-on-frame construction, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has always used a unibody chassis. As AMC began development of the next Jeep in , management created a business process that is now known as product lifecycle management PLM. The Grand Cherokee thus became the first Chrysler-badged Jeep product. Development work for the new Jeep model continued and Chrysler's employees after the buyout of AMC were eager for a lates release date; however, CEO Lee Iacocca was pushing for redesigned Chrysler minivans , thus delaying the Grand Cherokee's release until late  as an Explorer competitor.
Unlike the Explorer, the Grand Cherokee utilized monocoque unibody construction, whereas the Explorer was a derivative of the Ranger pickup with a separate body-on-frame. The original Grand Cherokee was launched in as a model year vehicle in the luxury SUV segment.
The "ZJ" models, manufactured from to , originally came in three trim levels: The base model included features such as full instrumentation, cloth interior, and a standard five-speed manual transmission , while gaining the moniker "SE" name for the model year. Power windows and locks were not standard equipment on the base trim. The minimal price tag differential resulted in low consumer demand, and as a result, the low-line model was eventually discontinued.
Additional standard features included a driver-side air bag starting in 96 and four-wheel anti-lock braking system ABS. The Laredo was the mid-scale model with standard features that included power windows , power door locks , cruise control, and a leather wrapped steering wheel. Exterior features included medium-grey plastic paneling on the lower body and five-spoke alloy wheels. The Limited was the premium model, featuring body color lower body paneling, and gold exterior accents.
By the option list grew to include heated seats. Standard was the 4. As with other models. Package groups with the various trim levels included: When it was first introduced in April as an early model year vehicle, the Grand Cherokee only had one powertrain choice: This became the "volume" engine for the Grand Cherokee. Low demand for the manual transmission resulted in its discontinuation after , but European-market ZJs retained it when coupled to the diesel engine which was unavailable in North America.
The drive train choices included rear-wheel drive or four-wheel-drive. In , the engine dropped 5 horsepower to due to new EPA regulations imposed on the model year. In , a variant of the top-level Grand Cherokee Limited, the "5. Jeep ads claimed it to be the "world's fastest sport utility vehicle", verified by third-party testing.
The primary improvements in the 5. Other features include a standard watt, speaker Infinity Gold sound system with rear roof-mounted sound bar, standard sunroof, and an interior swaddled with unique "calf's nap" soft leather and faux wood trim.
Production of this model was 14, units. Export models produced at the plant in Graz, Austria, were given the vehicle designation of "ZG".
The European model was coded WG. The spare tire was relocated from the side of the cargo compartment to under the floor. Like the ZJ, the rear tailgate glass opened separately. The two heavy pushrod V8 engines were replaced by Chrysler's then-new PowerTech. The new V8 engine produced less torque than the old pushrods, but was lighter, offered better fuel economy, and provided similar on road performance figures the gallon fuel tank was replaced with one of a The straight-six engine was also updated in A redesign of the intake manifold added 10 horsepower 7.
While other Jeep vehicles used the Mopar 5 x 4. A notable feature available in this generation was the automatic four wheel drive option called Quadra-Drive , which employed the New Venture Gear NV transfer case.
This two-speed chain-driven transfer case uses a gerotor, a clutch pack coupled to a hydraulic pump, to transfer torque between the front and rear axles. The transfer case contains three modes, 4-All Time, Neutral, and 4-Lo.
If the rear axle starts spinning at a higher rate than the front axle, hydraulic pressure builds up in the gerotor and causes the clutch pack to progressively transfer torque to the front axle until both axles return to the same speed. Neutral mode is intended for towing the vehicle. In 4-Lo, the front and rear axles are locked together through a 2.
Vari-Lok differentials also use a gerotor to transfer torque between the wheels on either side of the axle. The major advantage of Quadra-Drive was that the combined transfer case and progressive locking differentials in each axle could automatically control traction between all four wheels. However, only the center differential could be permanently locked, and only in 4Lo.
It included three planetary gear sets rather than the two normally used in a four-speed automatic. This gave it six theoretical speeds, and it would have been the first six-speed transmission ever produced in volume, but it was programmed to only use five of these ratios. Four were used for upshifts, with a different second gear for downshifts. Although five of the six ratios were used, Chrysler decided to call it a "4-speed automatic".
In , the programming was changed to make use of all six ratios. Rather than have six forward gears, the transmission was programmed to act as a five-speed with the alternate second gear for downshifts. The 42RE 4-speed automatic remained the transmission for the Inline 6 engine.
It had slight changes from the previous model Grand Cherokee. The interior was also completely redesigned in The redesign allowed for larger rear doors, and more space for rear passengers. Controls for various items like headlights, heated seats, and rear wiper were moved to more convenient locations.
The electronic Vehicle Information center was moved from below the radio to above the windshield, and was standard on all and up models. Limited models included automatic dual-zone climate control. UniFrame is an unusual construction scheme, it incorporates all of the strength and durability of a body-on-frame construction into a unitized construction. By adding stiffness and rigidity to the structure, they enhanced the ride and strengthened the network of steel beams, rails and pillars or "safety cage" that surround and protect occupants.
More than 70 percent of the underbody is high-strength steel. The Grand Cherokee received a minor facelift for including round fog lamps, a lower front fascia and a new body-color matched inset grille design. Export models produced at the plant in Graz, Austria, were given the vehicle designation of "WG". A Mercedes Benz sourced 3. Jeep to replaced the XJ-era live-axle with leading-arms front suspension found in the ZJ and WJ with an independent double-wishbone setup like that which debuted in the Liberty.
This Jeep has gained 5 stars in the Euro Ncap crash safety tests conducted in The lower portion of the front bumper was still removable as it was from launch to increase the approach angle for off-road use. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is available with an improved 5. The engine uses variable valve timing to increase fuel economy.
The fourth-generation WK2 Grand Cherokee went on sale in summer as a model. This culminated in the Chrysler Chapter 11 reorganization that same year.
The fourth-generation Grand Cherokee retains its classic Jeep styling combined with a modern and sleek body style. The interior features leather trim and real wood accents, plus Bluetooth and uConnect electronics options.
With the additional awards for the Grand Cherokee, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has won 30 awards for off-road capability, luxury, value, best-in-class, and safety, making it the most awarded SUV ever. Like previous generations, the WK2 Grand Cherokee chassis is a steel unibody. Unlike previous generations, it features four-wheel independent suspension for better on-road handling. However, due to the subsequent sale and bankruptcy of Chrysler, the Grand Cherokee launch was delayed and the ML launched before the Grand Cherokee.
Optional Quadra-Lift height adjustable air suspension can raise the vehicle's ground clearance up to Engine choices include the all new 3. The V8 comes with the multi-speed automatic transmission that includes Electronic Range Selection ERS to manually limit the high gear operating range.
Alongside the Wrangler, the Grand Cherokee was the first model to be sold directly by Jeep in the country. Because the gas tanks are mounted between the bumper and rear axle, a rear collision could cause the fuel tank to leak, causing a fire.
Also affected are — Jeep Liberty models and — Jeep Cherokee models, which totals about 5. In June, , Chrysler Corporation responded to the recall, agreeing to recall 2. The recall will include 2. Two weeks prior to this recall, Chrysler Corporation claimed that the affected Jeep vehicles were safe, though agreed to recall the affected vehicles later. To remedy the problem, Jeep dealerships will install a trailer hitch onto the rear bumpers of Jeep vehicles that will protect the fuel tank if the vehicle is involved in a rear impact.
If an affected vehicle is not currently equipped with a trailer hitch , one will be installed onto it, and older Jeep and non-factory aftermarket trailer hitches will be replaced with one from Chrysler Corporation. Despite the recall, the market for these Jeep vehicles has not suffered. This followed cases of cars rolling away due the transfer case moving into neutral of its own accord, and the owner not having applied the parking brake.
The cause of the roll-aways was faulty soldering in the transfer case actuator. It has been deduced that the revised software detects this by noting any deviation in resistance, and thereupon locks the transfer case in high ratio for safety; but that it is over-reacting to minor resistance variations from other causes.
Originally Chrysler dealers claimed that the loss of neutral and low ratio following the recall was co-incidence; then it claimed that the revised software was revealing pre-existing faults in the system, despite it occurring even with new parts. Chrysler have also claimed that only a small fraction of cars have issues following the recall;  but most users never have occasion to use the low ratio and may never discover the fault.
Four years after this recall its issues remain unresolved. In April , the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA ordered a recall of and Jeep Grand Cherokees and other cars that use an electronic gear shifter because it sometimes does not go into or does not remain in the park position, despite the operator's best intentions.
Consumers reported that they put the car in park and left the engine running, and then were surprised when the car rolled away under power. The Company is aware of 41 injuries that are potentially related.