Jeep For 1999
By Carey Russ
Jeep's Grand Cherokee has been a leader in the sport-utility field since its introduction. A new generation that will only improve its already enviable position debuts for 1999.
Jeep is about more than just four-wheel-drive hardware. The company offers three programs that allow owners to experience the capabilities of their vehicles. Simplest is "Jeep 101", a part-day event in which owners navigate an obstacle course while guided by experienced off-road guides. It's a great way to get acquainted with a Jeep's capabilities. "Camp Jeep", held in the Colorado Rockies, is a more advanced two-day event. And, for the hard-core, there are "Jeep Jamborees" throughout the country. They range from civilized romps on dirt roads to serious four-wheeling. All are environmentally- responsible and family-oriented.
The Grand Cherokee revolutionized the sport-utility world when it first appeared. The 1999 version promises a repeat. To say that the new Grand Cherokee is all-new is not stretching the truth any - only 127 parts carry over from last year.
While the 1999 Grand Cherokee's styling is familiar, all body panels are different. It's larger, with increased interior space and comfort, but not too large to fit through tricky off-road situations. A new, more efficient 4.7-liter V8 engine and multi-speed automatic transmission are only partial highlights. The suspension, steering, and brakes are also new. The next-generation "Quadra-Drive" four-wheel- drive system allows virtually all available torque to be transferred to a single wheel if that wheel is the only one with any possibility of traction.
Die-hard four-wheelers may complain that the popularity of sport-utility vehicles has made most SUVs more like minivans than real backwoods machines, and they are right in many cases. The Jeep Wrangler, however, is definitely not one of those cases. It is, as it has always been, as close to being a turn-key off-roader as anything made. It has a redesigned frame and new, more convenient climate system controls for 1999. New colors are also available.
After major revisions two years ago, the compact Cherokee continues to evolve. Several trim levels are available in two-door and four-door body styles. Five-speed manual and three or four-speed automatic transmissions and two-wheel drive or two different four- wheel-drive systems mean that there is a Cherokee for every need.
Some Cherokee models have exterior trim changes this year, and new colors are available throughout the line.