...I just took a test drive this evening of a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo at Houston dealership today. It was a base Laredo model with only a 26e options package. (basic air, p/w, p/l, am/fm cassette, 4.0 L/ 4 speed auto, etc.) The sticker price was about $28.8K.
Like the look of the new Grand Cherokee, especially from the front with the new headlights. It is a little taller for sure. From the inside, like the extra head room in the front and back. Noticeable difference (since I am 6'0"). The rear legroom is about just as limited as before, but the seat height might be a touch higher. (Don't get me wrong, there was enough legroom, but just that the Explorer has more.)
The instrument panel is nice and controls are nice.
The cargo compartment is nice with the spare tower out of the way. This one came with a temp spare, but it looks like it can hold a full-size spare. The cargo room looks more useful. Like the visibility out the left side of the vehicle with spare moved under the cargo area.
I drove the vehicle on both the freeway and on the streets. The biggest impression I had was that the ride was very good. Felt isolated from the road, but was well-controlled on both the freeway and on broken pavement around town. The vehicle was quiet with low road noise and wind noise. The ride was definitely better than the prior Grand Cherokee (more isolated) and much better than the 1998 Explorer Eddie Bauer I have ridden in recently and 1996 Explorer XLT that I have driven on extended trips (more isolated and lots less pitching or bouncy ride on rough or uneven pavement).
The steering feels good initially (more weighted than before). But I am not sure it is much more precise (or as precise as the Explorer's).
The power of the 4.0 L six felt good accelerating onto the freeway. The transmission seemed to downshift smoothly. Doesn't feel like an overly powerful engine, but more than adequate. The engine seemed fairly quiet, but you still hear it when it downshift into lower gears.
Overall, I was impressed with the vehicle.