Jeep Grand Cherokee Generations: 1st Generation to Current designs

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The Jeep Grand Cherokee generations started in the year 1992 with the introduction of the first Grand Cherokee ZJ during the Detroit Auto show, the introduction of the first Jeep Grand Cherokee was a success, with more than 2 million of the first Jeep Grand Cherokee being sold.

Since its inception, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is considered one of the best mid-sized SUVs for families, Jeep Grand Cherokee buyers looking for a family car consider the Jeep Grand Cherokee, because of its safety features compared with other models such as the ford explorer, the size of the interior and cargo spaces, comfortability of the driving and interior accessories, fuel efficiency and technology.

For these reasons, we will take a look at the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s evolutions in terms of safety features, interior spaces for passengers and cargo, fuel efficiency, modern technology features, and handling improvements of all generations of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

If you are in the market for a used Jeep Grand Cherokee, the following article will help you narrow down on the perfect Jeep Grand Cherokee based on the features that most customers look out for when buying a used Jeep, this related article will also help: Used Jeep Buying Guide – Expert Checklist.

Now let’s talk about the Jeep Grand Cherokee Generations.

1st Jeep Grand Cherokee Generations (1992 – 1999)

The Jeep Grand Cherokee (1992-1999) had three distinctive features that made it one of the best family SUVs available at that time, at that time its competitors include other SUVs such as the Acura SLX and the Chevrolet Suburban 1500.

The safety features that made the Jeep Grand Cherokee stand out amongst the competitors include Anti-lock brakes that would automatically sense when the tires of the Jeep Grand Cherokee were not rotating under extreme braking, and would automatically modulate the brakes to improve the handling of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

1st Jeep Grand Cherokee Generations

The pioneer first-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee also included front impact airbags that protected the driver from frontal crushes and a security system that prevented the engine from starting if the original key was not used to start the vehicle.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee (1992 – 1999) was available in two types of engines, diesel, and gasoline engines, which were all optimized for fuel efficiency and power, the engines included a 2.5L TD 4AT (116 HP) diesel engine, and a 4.0L V6 4AT (184 HP), 5.2L V8 4AT (211 HP) and 5.9L V8 4AT (237 HP) gasoline engines. In terms of fuel economy, the Jeep Grand Cherokee (1992 – 1999) fuel economy is as follows:

City Driving10.3 mpg-US (22.8 L/100Km)
Highway Driving20.6 mpg-US (11.4 L/100Km)
Combined Fuel Economy15.9 mpg-US (14.8 L/100Km)

Some of the technology fitted in the Jeep Grand Cherokee manufactured between the years 1992 – 1999 included mostly safety and convenience features, such as airbags, digitized climate control, keyless entry, and more. The technology incorporated in the Jeep Grand Cherokee differentiated it from its competitors such as the Chevrolet Blazer and Ford Explorer which were all targeting the same market base, of families looking for a mid-sized family SUV.

Some of the most sought-after Jeep Grand Cherokee manufactured during this period include The Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ which is a favorite amongst old school Jeepers, for its Aisin AX15 5-speed manual transmission with AMC six-cylinder’s 190hp and 225 ft-lb of torque, which can be converted to an off-roading Jeep Grand Cherokee or an Overlanding Jeep Grand Cherokee.

2nd Jeep Grand Cherokee Generations (1999 – 2004)

The second generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee has its upgrades mainly on improvement on the features of the first-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee more than 127 parts were borrowed from the first-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, in terms of designs, Jeep made the rounds softer, and also improved on the spacing that was a major consideration for a family SUV.

Compared to the first generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, rear passengers were considered and Jeep improved the spacing of the rear passenger spaces, positioned some of the rear controls, and also modified the body of the Jeep Grand Cherokee to increase the spacing of the rear passengers.

2nd Jeep Grand Cherokee Generations

In terms of handling, the suspension systems were also improved making the handling of the Jeep Grand Cherokee even better, more versions of the diesel engines were introduced including the 2.7L CRD 5AT (163 HP) and the 3.1L TD 4AT (150 HP), however, the gasoline engines were more optimized for fuel efficiency with Jeep opting for four types of gasoline engines 4.0L 4AT (190 HP), 4.0L 4AT (195 HP), 4.7L V8 4AT (230 HP) and 4.7L V8 5AT (225 HP).

The technology included in the second-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee included a four-wheel-drive option, the Quadra-Drive technology that improved traction especially when off-roading with your Jeep in your favorite Jeep Trails, other notable additions to the second generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee included 45RFE and 545RFE automatic transmission that made it easier to switch between gears.

The improvement in the engines also resulted in a change in fuel economy, making the second generation more fuel efficient than the first-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, the fuel economy of the second generation manufactured between the years 1993 to 2003 include:

City Driving10.54 mpg-US (22.3 L/100Km)
Highway Driving19.27 mpg-US (12.2 L/100Km)
Combined Fuel Economy14.7 mpg-US (16 L/100Km)

If you are in the market for a used Jeep Grand Cherokee, the second generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the most sought used Jeep Grand Cherokee, not only were the engines more efficient and powerful, it came packed with lots of improved technology mainly that involved the handling of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

3rd Jeep Grand Cherokee Generations (2005-2010)

The third generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee was more focused on off-road and highway driving, Jeep introduced two types of engines in the third generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 3.7L V6 engine was replaced with the 4.0L I6. A 4.7L V8 and a 5.7L Hemi V-8 were also introduced.

Some of the improvements made in the third generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee included an upgrade of the Jeep four-wheel-drive systems with Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II, and Quadra-Drive II in Jeep Grand Cherokees such as Jeep Grand Cherokee (WJ, WK, WK2).

The 3rd generation of engines included diesel engines such as 3.0L V6 CRD 5AT AWD (218 HP), and gasoline engines included 3.7L V6 5AT AWD (201 HP), 4.7L V8 5AT AWD (231 HP) and 5.7L V8 5AT AWD (326 HP). In general, the 3rd generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee wasn’t focused on fuel economy, and the results were poor fuel economy, as you can see from the data below:

City Driving13.36 mpg-US (17.6 L/100Km)
Highway Driving22.19 mpg-US (10.6 L/100Km)
Combined Fuel Economy17.81 mpg-US (13.2 L/100Km)

In the year 2006-2010, Jeep also introduced the JEEP Grand Cherokee SRT-8, this became the fasted ever Jeep with SRT-8 6.1L V8 5AT (425 HP), SRT in Jeep Grand Cherokee means Street & Racing Technology.

2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, 3rd Jeep Grand Cherokee Generations
2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Despite the increase in engine power, the SRT engines were also fuel efficient compared to 1st and 2nd generations of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, with the following data on fuel economy:

City Driving10.7 mpg-US (22 L/100Km)
Highway Driving17.9 mpg-US (13.1 L/100Km)
Combined Fuel Economy14.3 mpg-US (16.4 L/100Km)

The success of the SRT Jeep Grand Cherokee meant that there was a section of customers looking for a more powerful family SUV, than a sports version of the model, Stellantis the umbrella company that includes Chrysler, Fiat, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram has continued producing SRT models as we wait for a more advanced electric vehicle Grand Cherokee SRT.

Read more on electric Jeep models including the Jeep Grand Cherokee in our article on Jeep EV: What consumers can expect in future Jeep electric vehicles.

4th Jeep Grand Cherokee Generations (2011-present)

The fourth generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee introduced most of the modern technology available in modern Jeep Grand Cherokees, most notable features introduce don the 4th generation of Jeep Grand Cherokee include;

Selec-Terrain, for off-road and on-road performance, the settings introduced driving modes such as “Auto”, “Snow”, “Sport”, “Sand/Mud” and “Rock” that could be controlled on the center console of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Selec- Terrain is available in 2014 to present Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK2).

Jeep discontinued Quadra-Drive which was available in Jeep Grand Cherokee (WJ), and focused on improving on the Quadra-Drive II which is available on modern Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK and WK2), manufactured between 2005 and to present.

There are various engines introduced over the years between 2010 to 2013 for the Jeep Grand Cherokee, they include diesel engines such as 3.0L CRD 5AT AWD (190 HP), 3.0L CRD 5AT AWD (241 HP), 3.0L EcoDiesel 8AT AWD (240 HP), 3.0L EcoDiesel 8AT FWD (240 HP) and gasoline engines such as 3.6L V6 6AT AWD (286 HP) and 5.7L V8 6AT AWD (352 HP).

The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 also received an engine upgrade in the years 2012 to 2014 with the introduction of the SRT-8 6.4L V8 5AT (461 HP) and was later upgraded to an SRT 6.4L HEMI V8 8AT (470 HP) which is available in Jeep Grand Cherokee manufactured between the years 2013 to 2020.

Its cousin the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk was introduced in the year 2018 and featured a 6.2L HEMI V8 8AT AWD (719 HP) which currently holds the title of the most powerful and fast engine in the Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup.

 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, 4th Jeep Grand Cherokee Generations
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk

In terms of fuel economy, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk 4WD from the years 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 gets 11mpg in the city and 17mpg on the highways, compared to the Grand Cherokee SRT from the same years that get an average of 13mpg in the city and 19mp in the highway, we have a comparison table below:

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk 4WDJeep Grand Cherokee SRT
11MPG city13MPG city
17MPG highway19MPG highway
Related Post:

Frequently Asked Questions.

Is Jeep Grand Cherokee fuel efficient?

Yes, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the most fuel-efficient mid-sized SUVs available in the market, over the years, Jeep has optimized the fuel economy of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, overall, the Jeep Grand Cherokee gets 10.3 mpg US city driving and 20.6 mpg-US highway driving despite the evolvement of the Jeep Grand Cherokee engine, that’s gets more powerful features over the years.

Is the Grand Cherokee 5-seater or 7-seater?

The Jeep Grand Cherokee offers various seating options, over the years Jeep has optimized the interior of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the two-row Jeep Grand Cherokee has an accommodation capacity of five passengers, while the three versions have a seating capacity of seven without compromising on the passengers spacing, Jeep expanded the rear passenger’s spaces by modifying and optimizing the body of the Jeep Grand Cherokee since 1999 to focus on giving its customers a more luxurious interior spacing.

Is the Jeep Grand Cherokee a good family car?

Yes, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the best family cars available in the market today, Jeep has been optimizing the Jeep in terms of comfortability, and offering the best handling and safety features over the years, the Jeep Grand Cherokee offers plenty of trunk space making it more than just a fun car.

How many generations of Grand Cherokee are there?

There are four Generations so the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

We have the first generations that were produced in the years (1992 – 1999) with the most notable Jeep Jeep Cherokee in this era is the Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ.

The second generation was produced in the years (1999 – 2004) with more rounder edges in terms of design, the most notable Jeep Grand Cherokee of the second generation include the Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ.

The third generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokees was produced in the years (2005-2010) with the Jeep Grand Cherokee WK being the most notable Jeep Grand Cherokee of the era.
The fourth Generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, including the WK2 and was manufactured from 2011 to the present.

When did Jeep redesign the Grand Cherokee?

The most notable Jeep redesign of the Jeep Grand Cherokee occurred in the second generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee of the years between 1999 – 2004, they made more rounder edges on the Jeep Grand Cherokee which is easily distinguished from the Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ which has sharper edges.

Jeep modified the body of the Jeep Grand Cherokee in order to expand the interior spacing, giving more room to the passengers, who were looking for a more spacious Jeep Grand Cherokee.

James Ndungu - Jeep Runner Writer

Author: James Ndungu

James is an Automotive Service Writer, I4WDA certified trainer, Jeep enthusiast, and shop owner specializing in Jeep parts, accessories, and Electric Vehicles Charging Station Installation services. His interest and first-hand experience in electric vehicle charging technology motivated him to achieve certification through the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP).

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