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The 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee represents the first redesign of the Grand Cherokee since it was introduced in 1992. It has a new, more rounded look and a slightly more luxurious interior. Although its wheelbase is unchanged, the new Grand Cherokee is 4.0 inches longer, 2.0 inches higher and 1.5 inches wider. Somehow, Jeep has managed to lower the step-in height by an inch but allow the driver to sit an inch higher.
1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee LaredoEnlarge Photo
Unfortunately, there is no increase in legroom for the back-seat passengers. The main packaging improvement was getting rid of the spare tire in the cargo area. Now that the spare is under the floor, the cargo capacity behind the second row of seats is now rated at 39 cubic feet. The new body is significantly stronger, according to Jeep engineers, which should mean a more comfortable and carlike ride and handling with less noise, vibration and harshness.
There is a choice of two engines. The new 4.7-liter V-8 has a single-overhead-camshaft design and is rated at 235 horsepower (hp) and 295 lb-ft of torque. The standard engine is a more refined version of the existing 4.0-liter six-cylinder that is rated at 195 hp and 230 lb-ft of torque. Both engines get a new four-speed automatic transmission. An improved version of the full-time Quadra-Trac four-wheel-drive system comes with the new Grand Cherokee. Jeep says the new Quadra-Trac II can keep the vehicle moving even if only one tire has traction. There is a new three-link rear suspension to improve ride and handling, a new steering gear that improves road feel and reduces the turning circle, and an improved anti-lock braking system.
The Cherokee received a major freshening for 1997, so changes are minor for 1999. The Cherokee Sport gets a fresh exterior appearance for 1999, with the front grille, headlamp surroundings, front and rear bumpers, and rear license plate brow now painted in body color.
The Wrangler gets new rotary controls for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Its frame has been redesigned to be 16 pounds lighter than last year's model.