From the March 1993 issue of Car and Driver.Capability has a charm of its own. The Swiss Army knife didn’t make its way into so many pockets and purses on its good looks. It’s there because, “Well, you never know … ”
If you really don’t know where the next fork in life’s road will take you, maybe you should be heading down it in this Jeep Grand Cherokee. It can haul two passengers in front fairly comfortably and up to three more in the back seat. It’s also a station wagon, so you can bring home more firewood or haul away more trash in a single trek. It drives all four wheels all the time, so episodes of low traction or high water can mostly be shrugged off. And now that a 5.2-liter V-8 is available—the most powerful engine offered in this class—you can tow up to 6500 pounds of house or boat or houseboat.You’re thinking of schlepping your oldest to college in Nome and bringing back an igloo kit? Hey, no problem. A lot of people along the way will think you’re pretty fashionable, too.
Jeffrey G. RussellCar and Driver
The 220-hp V-8 with sequential port fuel injection is new to the Grand Cherokee this year, brought over from the Dodge truck line. A four-speed automatic comes with the V-8. Our test car also had the trailer-tow option, which includes a 3.73 axle ratio in place of the standard 3.55.Performance without a trailer behind is very car-like indeed—8.1 seconds to 60 mph and a top speed of 116 mph. Other SUVs will definitely fall behind in the sprints. The price of this performance is reduced fuel economy, down to an EPA rating of 14 mpg city, 18 highway, compared with 15 and 20, respectively, for Jeep’s standard-equipment 4.0-liter six.
Highs: Go anywhere, do anything, look down on any Lexus.
Along with the extra performance, drivers of this V-8 model will also notice a different sound. This engine moans its exhaust heartily around town, and it’s a bit louder than the six at full throttle, too, although the sound is more composed. When you reach cruising speeds, the V-8 interior sounds more relaxed.The Grand Cherokee is the newest domestic entry in the SUV class, introduced in early 1992, and it’s notably different from the others in several ways. For one, it’s lower. People often comment that they like the high, look-down view an SUV provides in traffic. The Grand Cherokee has less of that than the others, although it’s still high compared with a car. Less height brings easier entry and exit, which most users will applaud.Another Grand Cherokee difference is that the handling is less truck-like. Even off road, it takes a lot of nastiness in stride. The ride motions are less choppy and small-bump harshness is better masked than you might expect in this class. This is not to say the feel is car-like, but the difference is less than it used to be.
Jeffrey G. RussellCar and Driver
Which brings us back to the idea of capability. The old saying—”Jack of all trades, master of none”—comes to mind here. You can be charmed by the variety of jobs this machine can tackle or you can be disappointed by its limits. As a car, it’s less agile than its size would suggest, and the ride is poor. As a station wagon, it’s a compact that gets really bad gas mileage. As an all-weather runabout, it’s really sure-footed on those few days when the going is treacherous, the equivalent of wearing good overshoes, and it’s a bit like wearing overshoes on sunny days, too. For pulling a big boat out of the water and up the ramp, it’s perfect. If you do that, or if you live where bad weather besieges you more than just a few days a year, the Grand Cherokee’s traction capability may outweigh all other considerations.Or you can just like the idea of a Swiss Army knife for the road, much as some people like the idea of wearing Timberlands to the office. Most SUVs are bought as fashion statements, we think. As a fashion statement, this Grand Cherokee Laredo and its options stickered at $25,366, which puts it in the neighborhood of some highly expressive cars: the SHO Taurus, the Nissan Maxima SE, the Firebird Trans Am, and a fully loaded, cab-forward LH from Chrysler.
Lows: Drives like the first cousin of a truck.
When used as a passenger car, the Grand Cherokee is weakest in delivering the driving pleasures most car enthusiasts expect as their minimum daily dose. Control efforts for steering and the pedals are light to the touch, but you still must stay busy at the steering, because it’s easily deflected from straight ahead by road irregularities. There’s also a major shake transmitted up through the steering column that would never be tolerated in a car (remember, there’s a solid front axle down there). The feel of precise machinery is absent.The dash is off-putting, too. It has a full set of gauges but they’re covered with a shiny, reflective, plastic lens that is angled just right to give you the sense of watching your pant legs on television. The gauge needles are all cartoon orange, too. And be careful what you put on top of the dash, because the yawning defrost vent, grated over like a storm sewer, looks hungry for small objects.
Jeffrey G. RussellCar and Driver
If station-wagon capability is important to you, make sure you get the outside spare-tire mount. The inside mount stands the spare up on the left, just behind the second seat, where it hogs too much of the load floor. For more floor space, the rear cushions tilt up and the backrests fold forward where the cushions were, thereby producing a completely flat floor. For more length yet, all the way to the backs of the front buckets, the tilted-up cushions can easily be unplugged from their hinges. This is a slick arrangement, also used on the now discontinued Honda Civic wagon.
The Verdict: Timberlands for the road.
It’s one more feature that reminds of the Swiss Army knife, if our test car’s red with chrome weren’t enough already.CounterpointChrysler has touted its new V-8 Jeeps as the best towing sport-utes this side of a diesel Suburban. To prove it, Chrysler lent us the corporate horse trailer ballasted to a total weight of 5320 pounds. Thusly encumbered, we roamed our gentrified Hogback Road environs and found that the Magnum V-8 achieved merging speeds with relative ease, maintained 65 mph on cruise control through gentle rolling hills in third gear (recommended for towing), and pulled away strongly from a stop on a steep simulated boat ramp. The bad news: fuel economy dropped to 8 mpg during these maneuvers. —Frank MarkusThe V-8 makes sense only if you’re pulling a trailer with an impatient, spoiled thoroughbred stomping around inside. It will get that horseflesh there quicker—somewhat quicker—but you’ll pay twice: about $2900 for the engine, and a significant increase in the amount of gas you’ll use (see Mr. Markus above). Mine is a minority opinion, but the V-8 just didn’t feel all that much more powerful than the six when the horse was in the barn. I’d rather spend three grand on options, or maybe a hand-tooled saddle for Mr. Ed. Either way, Willy and Joe would never recognize this Jeep. —Steve SpenceThe Jeep Grand Cherokee V-8 is the only way to go for those drivers who would really prefer to be behind the wheel of a car but are forced to drive an SUV due to a burning need for off-road traction or a peculiar compulsion to look down on their fellow motorists. All Grand Cherokees can meet these two requirements and all Grand Cherokees provide SUV-class-leading ride and handling. However, only the V-8-powered versions provide enough performance to help you forget that you’re not in a car. That’s my kind of SUV. —Csaba Csere
1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
VEHICLE TYPEfront-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
PRICE AS TESTED$25,366 (base price: $21,369)
ENGINE TYPEpushrod 16-valve V-8, iron block and heads, port fuel injectionDisplacement 318 in3, 5210 cm3Power 220 hp @ 4800 rpmTorque 285 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
CHASSISSuspension (F/R): live axle/live axleBrakes (F/R): 11.2-in vented disc/10.0-in drumTires: Goodyear Invicta GA, P225/75SR-15
DIMENSIONSWheelbase: 105.9 in Length: 176.7 in Width: 69.2 in Height: 64.9 in Passenger volume: 99 ft3 Cargo volume: 70 ft3 Curb weight: 4052 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS60 mph: 8.1 sec100 mph: 26.0 secRolling start, 5–60 mph: 8.4 secTop gear, 30–50 mph: 3.6 secTop gear, 50–70 mph: 5.3 sec1/4 mile: 16.5 sec @ 84 mphTop speed: 116 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 190 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.75 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMYObserved: 15 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMYCombined/city/highway: 14/12/17 mpg
C/D testing explained
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io