Buying a Used Jeep Grand Cherokee? Five Generations of the Jeep SUV Explained

Depending on who you ask, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is either the best SUV on the market or the worst. Since this SUV has been around for almost 30 years, the best-used Jeep Grand Cherokee models are abundant.

Buying a used Jeep Grand Cherokee: The first generations

Buying a Used Jeep Grand Cherokee like this first generation
The Jeep Grand Cherokee sits at Daimler Chrysler’s Jefferson-North Assembly Plant on 28 October 1999 in Detroit, Michigan | JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images

According to Autotrader, the first generation Jeep Grand Cherokee hit the market in 1993. This generation lasted through 1998, and the second generation ran from 1999 to 2004. If you are planning to buy one of these vehicles, you probably have some specific plan for it. A 20-year-old Grand Cherokee isn’t going to be a reliable everyday vehicle, for the most part.

However, it’ll get the job done as an off-road vehicle or weekend SUV. Jeep offered the Grand Cherokee with various engine choices and other customizations over the years. Full-time four-wheel-drive was an option in the second generation, and the choices have only continued to grow over the years.

The third generation Grand Cherokee hit the market in 2005. It had better 4×4 systems, many engine choices, and improved ride quality. Jeep also started offering semi-luxury options like better audio systems, GPS navigation, and even heated leather seats.

If you are buying a used Jeep Grand Cherokee, the fourth generation is a good pick

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The fourth generation Jeep Grand Cherokee ran from 2011 through 2020. Jeep had to make some serious upgrades through the years to remain competitive on the market for that long. Due to the emphasis Jeep placed on safety, luxury, power, and off-road capability, even the Mercedes-Benz ML borrowed from the design at the time.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Grand Cherokee various awards. Off-road magazines and publications also recognized the SUV for its capability.

This generation also received much flack from companies focusing on reliability. One thing the Jeep brand has never excelled at is fitting in a pre-determined SUV box. However, Jeep focused on making the SUV better and more capable than ever.

Before buying a used Jeep SUV, check for recalls

The fifth generation Grand Cherokee began in 2021. The Grand Cherokee L added a third row for even more room and cargo space. At this time, Jeep plans to continue building the two-row SUV at its Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP).

Jeep has assembled the Grand Cherokee at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant since production started in 1992. In proper Jeep form, it offers the SUV with a variety of four-wheel-drive systems and a rear-wheel-drive option. New towing technology increased the maximum tow limit to 7,200 pounds.

As with buying any used car, checking for recalls is a good idea. You can check the NHTSA website, enter your 17-digit VIN, or search for the year, make, and model.

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