Jeep For 1997
By Carey Russ
A part of the Chrysler family for a decade, and the best-known American manufacturer of off-road vehicles for far longer than that, Jeep is one of those few brand names that has achieved the status of cultural icon. The Jeep line of sport-utility vehicles has a new look for 1997. The Wrangler is almost a completely new vehicle, and the Cherokee gets its first major overhaul since it was introduced in 1984.
Jeeps are sold worldwide, with both left- and right-hand drive export models.
The Wrangler is the heart and soul of Jeep. It is a direct descendant of the rugged workhorse of the World War II era that made Jeep a household name. The 1997 Wrangler is all new, with few parts left unchanged. But, it still looks like a Jeep. In fact, with the signature Jeep sheet-metal grille and round headlights, it looks more like the classic Jeep that the previous-generation Wrangler.
Although the 1997 Wrangler has a classic appearance outside, the interior is completely modern. For the first time, the Wrangler has dual air bags and an integrated climate-control system. There is more front seat travel and increased rear seat room. Interior trim and styling is new, and both hard and soft tops have been redesigned for better weather protection and easier use.
Underneath, a strengthened ladder frame and new Quadra-Coil suspension with increased wheel travel ensure even better off-road capability. Engine choices are a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or 4.0-liter 6. Both are available with 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmissions.
The Jeep Cherokee was the first 4-door compact sport-utility vehicle when it was introduced in 1984. It gets its first major makeover since then for the 1997 model year.
The interior is all new. A redesigned instrument panel has dual air bags and improved heating, air conditioning, and ventilation. There are new seat styles and fabrics. Trim and appointments have been redone. Much attention was given to reduction of noise, vibration, and harshness for improved comfort.
Fifty percent of the body parts are new or modified for 1997. Although unmistakably a Cherokee, the edges have been softened and rounded for a more contemporary look.
Three trim levels are offered. Base models have a 2.5-liter 4- cylinder engine; others are equipped with a 4.0-liter inline 6. Two- wheel drive is standard, with part-time 4-wheel drive available on all and full-time all-wheel drive available on the top model.
The top-of-the-line Jeep Grand Cherokee got a freshened exterior, new interior, and mechanical upgrades last year. Lower- emissions engines and a variety of mechanical, exterior, and interior refinements are the highlights for 1997.