Is the Grand Cherokee WJ a Good Off-Road Build?

In recent years, off-road builds have been extremely popular in the automotive community. Whether it be a 4×4 truck or an overland SUV, there is something exciting about a vehicle that is ready to handle some rugged environments. While some buyers may opt to purchase a vehicle that is off-road capable right from the factory, others enjoy taking on the project themselves. And that is where vehicles like the Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ come in.

What does Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ mean?

The WJ is the second generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It was in production from 1998 until 2004, and its predecessor was the Grand Cherokee ZJ. The second generation was a near-complete redesign of the first generation. And, the SUV started to offer more luxury features to make it family-friendly.

A Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ sits on a beachfront.
Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ

At the same time, the Grand Cherokee WJ does have legitimate off-road capability. Even in its stock form, which is a hallmark of the Jeep brand.

Is the Grand Cherokee WJ good for off-roading?

The Grand Cherokee WJ can be an impressive off-roader. And that is especially true for someone that is shopping on a budget. Unlike other Jeep models like the Wrangler or Cherokee XJ that command a premium, the WJ has remained fairly affordable. This makes them ideal for modification or just to get a cheap SUV with utility. 

In terms of off-road features, the WJ could come equipped with four-wheel drive that utilizes the New Venture Gear NV247 transfer case. The transfer case contains three modes, including 4Lo and 4All Time. Additionally, the Vari-Lok differentials added even more capability. But it is worth noting that only the center differential could be permanently locked.

What engines did the Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ use?

Most Grand Cherokee WJ models came with one of two engine options, these included a 4.0-liter inline-six engine and a 4.7-liter V8. According to Jeep Specs, some export models offered a diesel engine.

Both engines are fairly reliable, but the V8 had more power and capability when compared to the inline-six. That said, if you are looking for more efficiency on the trail, you will likely want the six-cylinder option.

Should you buy a WJ?

Currently, the WJ is not as popular as other Jeep models, but its value proposition does make it a worthy SUV. You can likely find a clean model for around $5,000 or less, and that makes for a budget-friendly Jeep vehicle.

A Jeep SUV, the Grand Cherokee WJ makes for an ideal off-road build.
Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ | IFCAR

When shopping for a used Grand Cherokee WJ, keep in mind that many of these vehicles were likely used for family life and can have high mileage on their odometers. But, it is certainly possible to find an example with plenty of life left in it.

If you opt for a WJ that is newer than 2002, this model even has some luxury features which may prove convenient off-road. These include things like adjustable pedals and a driver’s seat with memory settings. Both of these things are indicators of the luxury SUV the Grand Cherokee was bound to become.
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