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The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been in production since 1992. And now, it is in its fifth generation. Over there years, quite a bit of change has happened to this SUV. And, of course, some models are more sought-after than others. One model that seems to fall under the radar is the second-gen Grand Cherokee. Known as the Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ, it can be a great off-road SUV that you can find for cheap. 

What is the Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ?

The Jeep WJ SUV is the second generation of the Grand Cherokee. It launched in 1998 for the 1999 model year. As a redesigned version of this SUV, there were some legitimately serious updates. It only shares 127 parts with its predecessor. 

The Jeep Grand Cherokee can be an off-road SUV that you can get for cheap.
Jeep Grand Cherokee | IFCAR

Perhaps the biggest improvement the WJ has over the Grand Cherokee ZJ is its off-road ability. Jeep introduced Quadra-Drive for this model. And that is one of the first complex 4×4 systems that the brand put out. 

A WJ Jeep sits on the side of the road.
Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ | Bull Doser

Despite this, on the used market, it doesn’t seem like the Jeep WJ gets a lot of love. It’s much more likely for a first-gen Grand Cherokee to command a higher price. That’s probably because the ZJ is seen as a simpler vehicle. Plus, it retains the boxy look that you would expect from a Jeep SUV. 

The Grand Cherokee WJ can be a good off-road SUV

A stock Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ can make for a good off-road SUV. Especially if your WJ Jeep has the V8 engine and Quadra-Drive 4×4 System. But if you know anything about Jeep enthusiasts, you know that DIY is just a part of the game. 

Although the WJ is not the most popular among those looking to build an off-road SUV, you can see in the video above that it does have a fair amount of community support. As it stands, the WJ Jeep is kind of like the middle child right now. Folks are flocking to the ZJ, but what happens as those become more expensive and harder to find? It seems like the WJ Grand Cherokee will be there waiting. 

Of course, as I mentioned, you can get a WJ with a 4.6-liter V8 making 235 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. But, the standard engine remains the 4.0-liter inline-six. It might not be as potent as the V8, but with proper maintenance, it is known to pack on miles. Plus, you can see some better fuel economy. 

The Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ sits parked. It can be a good 4x4 SUV.
A Jeep Grand Cherokee | Darren McCollester/Getty Images

One of the downsides of this 4×4 SUV for enthusiasts will likely be the lack of a manual transmission. The WJ Grand Cherokee comes standard with a four-speed automatic transmission. It is possible to swap in a manual from the Dodge Dakota. Unfortunately, the NV3500 transmission is not known to be the best. 

Will the WJ Jeep become popular?

It’s hard to say if the Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ will ever become a popular 4×4 SUV. According to Car Buzz, the WJ was certainly competitive in its time. And today, you can get one for cheap. As other off-road SUVs become more and more expensive, some folks might be forced to look at something like the second-gen Grand Cherokee WJ. 

And with what it can bring to the table, maybe it will gain some respect.

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