Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited
How can Jeep win this deal three years in a row? Make that six times in 16 years. That's more 4x4 of the Year titles than any other manufacturer! The Grand Cherokee won in 1993 when it was introduced, in 1996 with a new transfer case, and now in 1998 thanks to the first-ever addition of the 5.9L V-8.
It's hard to believe that the same vehicle can maintain best-of-the-bunch status over seven model years. But look at the facts: Jeep has repeatedly delivered the fastest-accelerating, best-stopping, most off-road-capable vehicles. They've one-upped themselves, responding to enthusiast demand with proven-performance upgrades to an already excellent product. Unsatisfied with the status quo, even in the shadow of a revised Grand for 1999, Jeep added its biggest V-8 and produced the quickest production 4x4 we've ever tested. It blows away the 5.2L Grand Cherokee (the previous recordholder) and even minces the V-10 Ram.
But we weren't blinded by speed alone. Despite the pavement-tuned treads and suspension, the Grand Cherokee also proved the best pick for sand, rocks, and dirt-making its competitors seem painstakingly carlike. The Grand doesn't forsake those country-club qualities either, especially in high-zoot 5.9 Limited trim. So it's the same story, year after year: The Grand Cherokee is the sport/utility with the best balance of comfort and capability.
So is the 5.9 Limited the best ZJ ever? Maybe, but not for long. If history repeats itself, we're sure Jeep will come up with something better.