Jeep Grand Cherokee SW 1999 - 2004

Jeep Grand Cherokee SW 1999 - 2004

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • It comes with plenty of equipment
  • For off-roading it is one of the best


  • The petrol versions are heavy on fuel
  • It feels unsettled at lower speeds on the road
  • Cramped back seats


The Grand Cherokee is a superb off-roader that is able to tackle any situation and terrain be it gravel, mud, water or snow. It’s a pity it’s not as good on the tarmac with too much body roll, vague steering and a jittery ride at slower speeds. This is highlighted even more when you compare it to the likes of the BMW X5 and Mercedes M-Class. However, these two vehicles both struggle off-road when things get any more difficult than a wet field. The interior is not as spacious as the outside would have you believe with limited legroom in the back, but the seats are all extremely comfortable. The boot is huge and you are unlikely to feel short changed when you see the levels of equipment you receive.

Exterior and Interior

The Grand Cherokee was a good looking 4x4 when it came out and many still regard it as a good looking vehicle with it long curving lines and its less rugged look than the usual off-roader. The interior isn’t as spacious as you would expect looking at it from the outside with limited legroom in the back making longer journeys uncomfortable. The front is better, but all of the seats, despite being extremely comfortable, lack any real support and this becomes apart on longer journeys. The boot is large though with more than enough room for five adult’s luggage for a month away. The rear door splits too enabling you to just open the glass section that makes loading and unloading in tight spaces easier. Unfortunately the interior feels slightly cheap with all the fake wood and tacky plastics dotted throughout the cabin. It does come with loads of equipment as standard though that won’t leave you feeling short changed. The trim to go for is either the Limited or Limited XS as they both come with more than enough kit and the more expensive trim levels don’t add enough to be worth the extra cost.

Performance and Economy

The petrol engines are the ones to go for if you are looking for performance over fuel efficiency and also if your looking to buy a pre 2002 model. The entry level 4.0-litre should offer more than enough power and speed for most drivers. For such a large 4x4 going from 0-60mph in 10.6 seconds is excellent, however, the fuel efficiency is just 18mpg and that’s the official figures, meaning real world driving will see you getting figures closer to the mid teens. The 4.7-litre V8 is quicker by over two and a half seconds, but as a result is even less economical at 17mpg. The original 3.1 TD is best avoided as it was sluggish and unrefined. It was the slowest engine in the range at 13.6 seconds from 0-60mph and wasn’t the most economical either at 24mpg. The 2.7-litre CRD that replaced it is a much better choice and is the pick of the engines being only marginally slower than the 4.0-litre petrol to 60mph doing it in 10.8 seconds and is far more economical at 29mpg. It is also the better engine for off-roading, towing and carrying heavy loads as it comes with low-pulling power that is lacking in the petrol’s. Servicing costs are not the cheapest around coming in a couple of groups above the Land Rover Discovery.

Like to Drive

On the road the Grand Cherokee doesn’t manage the same on-road performance as the BMW X5 and the Mercedes M-Class, but then it was designed to be a competent off-roader which the X5 isn’t. It isn’t bad on the road though with all of the engines apart from the 3.1 TD giving powerful and refined performances and the suspension helps to give a very smooth ride especially on the motorway. It can feel unsettled at slower speeds and there is too much body roll in the corners, but overall it’s not terrible. It’s off-road where the Grand Cherokee excels though coping superbly with ditches, muddy tracks, deep water and seemingly impossible terrains thanks to its excellent Quadra-Drive system.

Faults and Repairs

The Grand Cherokee is far from problem free being subjected to four recalls over its lifetime. The first of these was over faulty fuel gauges on cars built after February 1999, the second was cars built towards the end of 1999 had possible front brake problems. This was then followed by cars being built between 2001 and 2002 suffering from under bonnet fires due to debris on the exhaust. The final recall was on cars from 2002 where the side airbag might not deploy properly. Other problems that occur are with the air-con, gearbox and the bearings in the front wheels. Our advise is to get a professional mechanic to give it a once over to make sure that everything is in working order and don’t settle for one that doesn’t have a full service history. As for services they won’t cost any more than your average 4x4. However, unscheduled repairs could prove costly even though Jeeps labour rates are only just above average.