The Jeep Grand Cherokee was originally designed in 1983 by independent contractors under the direction of American Motors Company (AMC) as an alternative to the smaller Jeep Cherokee. However, the final Jeep Grand Cherokee design was created by a group of employees within AMC. In 1987, Chrysler bought out AMC along with the Jeep line and production of the Jeep Grand Cherokee was delayed until 1992 when it was introduced at the North American International Auto Show.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is currently in its fourth generation of production. The first generation, the Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ, includes model years 1993 to 1998. Originally, only three trim levels were offered for the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Base model of the Jeep Grand Cherokee (later known as the SE) included cloth interior, an anti-lock brake system, and a five-speed manual transmission. The Laredo model of the Jeep Grand Cherokee additionally included cruise control and five-spoke aluminum wheels. The luxury Limited model of the Jeep Grand Cherokee included same-colored body moldings, leather seats, power sunroof, mirrors and seats, heated mirrors seats, and keyless remote entry. Several other special editions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee were offered in the first generation offering upgrades to the engine, four-wheel drive system, and suspension. These special edition Jeep Grand Cherokee models included the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, the Orvis Edition, the TSi, and the extremely upscale 5.9 L Limited ZJ. A year after the Jeep Grand Cherokee debuted, it was included in Car and Driver magazine’s “Ten Best” list and named “Truck of the Year” by Motor Trend magazine.
The second generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the WJ series, offered a complete redesign. The Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ series started production in 1998 and ran though 2003. The new design for the Jeep Grand Cherokee featured a hidden spare tire; a new, lighter V8 engine; a smaller fuel tank and a modified Quadra-Drive four-wheel system. In addition, the interior of the Jeep Grand Cherokee saw significant changes, including: more legroom for passengers and the addition of dual-zone climate control and a 10-disc changer with Infinity Audio package (select models). This generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee included the Laredo as the base model, and the upgraded Limited trim level as standard. It also included several specialty models: the Jeep Grand Cherokee Sport, the Special Edition, the Overland, the Columbia Edition and the Freedom Edition.
The third Jeep Grand Cherokee generation saw the addition of additional interior options and the new Hemi engine. This generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee included the models previously offered in addition to the CRD Predator (as an alternative to the Laredo in the European market) and the SRT-8.
The newest generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee WK2, became available in 2010. It includes the traditional Jeep styling with a contoured body. This newest Jeep Grand Cherokee model includes the same trim levels offered in the past. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has remained loyal to its design over the years, including its steel uniframe chassis.