1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Review

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High Gear Media Staff High Gear Media Staff  
August 31, 1998

SEATTLE - If you look up the term "sport utility vehicle" in your handy World Book Encyclopedia, don’t be surprised to find a picture of a Word War II Jeep prominently displayed at the top of the page.

Sure, the burbs are now crawling with sport-utes capable of satisfying the diverse needs of every sporting cult and off-road religion imaginable. We have everything from the mini-sport-utes such as the Chevy Tracker, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, to the big luxo-barges such as the Range Rover, Lincoln Navigator and GMC Denali.

Surprisingly, what started out as a simple, yet durable conveyance that could take you beyond the end of the trail - a Jeep - wound up trailblazing a market segment that has been dividing and multiplying like an amoeba run amok. The number of sport-utility nameplates totals at least three dozen, with perhaps a dozen more on the way - including new models from Ford, Mazda, BMW, Cadillac, Volkswagen, Porsche and Nissan.

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Jeep launched SUV craze

While today’s teens probably think it was always like this, it wasn’t. In fact, in 1984, just a scant 15 model-years ago, Jeep (then part of American Motors) introduced the very first compact four-door Cherokee. The only other four-door sport-utes available at the time were big brutes, such as the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, Chevy/GMC Suburban, Toyota Land Cruiser and International Travel-all (remember that one?).

If you happened to come from a dyed-in-the-wool Jeep family, your dad may have driven a Grand Wagoneer or CJ5, while your granddad drove a Willys Jeep - in WWII.

Frankly, it wasn’t until the arrival of the first Jeep Grand Cherokee in 1992 (a Chrysler brand by this time), that the carlike sport-utility market really started growing in earnest.

So what’s a company such as Jeep going to do, with everybody and their brother-in-law trying to push you off the trail and take away your business?

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