Could you live with this vehicle? That's the question we ask ourselves every time we select a 4x4 of the Year winner. We keep the rig for a year to put it through its paces to let you know how our selection fared. Last year we picked the '01 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, and we're really glad we did. For our uses, any 4x4 has to perform exceptionally well in all environments, and the '01 Grand delivers. Awesome power for blasting onto the freeway, plenty of torque to tow heavy loads, and precise steering and suspension for those windy roads are but a few of the Grand's abilities. In the more important off-road attributes such as traction, articulation, and power, the Grand excels again and again, with the only drawbacks being the wimpy street tread and stock ride height. Still, the combination of full-time four-wheel drive and Quadradrive axles helps the Grand go where lesser SUVs fail miserably.
Our Grand was equipped with the 4.7L V-8 and five-speed auto tranny. We actually have had it in our possession a bit more than a year, as we really don't want to give it back. Yep, this is one winner we'd like to keep.
Our long-term testing is based on literally driving the tread off the tires and racking up miles in a variety of situations both on and off the road. We try to treat these rigs as our own, using them for everything from daily transportation to towing and wheeling. We also take care of them by changing the oil and doing other routine maintenance while keeping track of any noises, problems, glitches, or other items that might give a regular owner concerns.
Happily, we have had a virtually flawless affair with the '01 Grand, and it has performed above and beyond the call of duty. After winning the 4x4 of the Year award, the Grand was driven to the East Coast to drag back a '47 CJ2A flatty for Jp magazine, and it hasn't stopped seeing towing duty since. Our daily commute is more than 75 miles of mountain roads, dirt, freeway, and city snarls that also test the vehicle to its max. It's no wonder that we clocked in excess of 34,000 miles in just over a year!
As with any new vehicle, problems will develop, but in our case the list was relatively short. Our biggest complaint was the strange thunk emanating every now and then from underneath the Jeep while shifting into reverse. It seems more pronounced on a cold morning, but is often not even noticeable. A check indicated all of the underpinnings of suspension and drivetrain to be tight and free of abnormal wear, so we have sorta gotten used to the thunk.
Another dilemma was that the driver's door-lock cylinder sometimes sticks when using the remote, but it still has three other doors.
Comfort, power, reliability, fuel efficiency, and all-around convenience make the '01 Jeep Grand Cherokee a real winner. Yes, the price of around $39,000 isn't cheap, but compared to what you get in other offerings, we feel it's a good deal. If we could afford one ourselves we'd probably already have it decked out with a lift and gnarly tires, as well as a few more dents and dings. We'll predict that as the price of used models comes down in the next few years, you'll be seeing more and more of them on the tougher trails.