2002 Grand Cherokee New Car Test Drive
Jeep's Grand Cherokee was one of the forerunners to the current SUV craze, and it's been around long enough--a decade now--that you might think of it as old news. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It got a complete redesign in 1999 that brought a roomier, more comfortable cabin and smoother engines, which helped it maintain healthy sales.
For 2002 a new top-line Overland model has been introduced, with a standard combination of formerly optional equipment that includes suede leather seat inserts and the full complement of hard-core off-road pieces such as skid plates, raised suspension and limited-slip axles.
The Grand Cherokee successfully rides on the thin ice of appealing to four-wheel-drive fashion while actually offering true off-road capability. This is the hard-core off-roader of the class, but it's trimmed to keep up with the boulevard-cruising pavement SUVs.
Four models are available: Laredo ($25,500); Sport ($25,425); Limited ($30,345); Overland ($34,905).
Laredo comes with the standard 195-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine, and a popular variety of power amenities.
Sport foregoes some amenities for the standard 235-horsepower V8 engine and five-speed automatic transmission.
Limited gets loaded with luxury amenities and starts with the base six-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic.
Overland is loaded with luxury equipment, the strongest engine, and the most hard-core off-road features as standard, and comes only as a four-wheel-drive model.
As indicated, three engines are available: the 4.0-liter inline-6; the 4.7-liter V8 rated at 235 horsepower; and the high-output 4.7-liter V8 rated at 260 horsepower.
All Grand Cherokees except the Overland come standard with rear-wheel drive, but that seems like buying a Louisville Slugger just to hit rocks. Four-wheel drive is the soul of the Grand Cherokee and the two full-time systems are available on the Laredo, Sport and Limited models for about $2000 additional.