2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee
This 2002 review is representative of model years 1999 to 2004.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
A new upscale model, along with items such as a hotter V8 and adjustable pedals, should keep the Jeep Grand Cherokee competitive in the 2002 model year.
The handsome, fun-to-drive Grand Cherokee once was considered the type of sport utility BMW would build. But then BMW unveiled its first sport ute for the 2000 model year. Called the X5, it turned out to essentially be a high-performance, all-weather combination sport ute/station wagon.
In contrast, the Grand Cherokee has more cargo room and Jeep's traditionally impressive off-road prowess. Although solidly built, it's had various long-term reliability issues.
An ultra-responsive 5-speed automatic transmission with a second overdrive gear was added for 2001 models with the 4.7 V8. But one wonders how many Grand Cherokee buyers cared about such new items as the industry-first hydraulically driven engine-cooling fan, which slightly raises fuel economy and allows better air conditioning performance at idle.
Competition keeps heating up in the sport utility market, so Jeep has provided more visible changes and higher profile features to its 2002 Grand Cherokee lineup; it continues with base Laredo and higher-line Limited trims with rear- or 4-wheel drive.
New Top-Line Trim
While heavy, the Grand Cherokee is no slug with any of its engines. But the hotter V8 is a good idea because even the 235-horsepower version provides average acceleration above 65 mph even with just a driver aboard—especially in heavier 4-wheel-drive form.
Best Fuel Economy
Those actually aren't bad numbers for a midsize sport ute that weighs approximately 4,000 pounds. The lightest Grand Cherokee is the rear-drive Laredo at 3,786 pounds, while the heaviest is the 4,364-pound, equipment-loaded Overland.
For what it's worth, a quarter-turn fuel filler cap that was new for 2001 will help owners get away a bit faster from filling stations.
Other new Grand Cherokee features include available side curtain airbag head protection in collisions for front and rear outboard occupants. They're standard in the Overland.
Power-Adjustable Pedals There also are available power-adjustable accelerator and brake pedals; they move 3 inches rearward of the standard pedal position to allow more driver comfort and to let shorter drivers move back farther from the steering wheel. The pedal position is incorporated into the "his-and-hers" memory setting, along with seat position, radio station selections and mirror settings.
Also new are rain-sensing windshield wipers (also standard for the Overland), improved air conditioning and—importantly—a new tire pressure monitoring system. Also, the Laredo and Limited get new wheels.
Top Four-Wheel-Drive Systems
Selec-Trac allows a shift into rear-drive, and all allow 4-wheel-drive to be engaged on roads at highways speeds. Low-range gearing helps give the Grand Cherokee sparkling off-road performance.
Quadra Drive combines the Quadra-Trac II transfer case and Vari-Lok progressive front and rear axles. It allows virtually a 100 percent transfer of developed engine torque to a single wheel on or off road to keep the Grand Cherokee moving while maintaining driver control when a traction situation looks almost hopeless.
Fun to Drive
Annoying Rocking Motion
The Grand Cherokee is one of few sport utilities in its class to use a unibody design, which allows a roomier interior. Big outside door handles and a fairly low floor facilitate reaching the quiet interior, where there's decent room for four 6-footers. But rear-door openings are narrow and the back windows don't roll down all the way.
Gauges can be quickly read and controls work smoothly. However, sound system controls should be larger. Front cupholders are nicely located and there are small storage pockets in the front doors. Vision to the rear is a bit limited, but there are big outside mirrors.
Folding Back Seat
While more attractive than ever, the Grand Cherokee could use a good dose of BMW reliability