We've received another reader review of the 1999 Grand Cherokee...
A few weeks back I called Chrysler customer service to try and find out when the new Grand's would be shipping (my local dealer, nor anyone else new). I talked with a very helpful guy, named Eric, and he told me that the Limiteds with the 4.7 and Quadra Drive would not be available until October. He also told me that sunroofs, tow packages, and some of the colors were on restriction (this means that they were so behind on them that you could not order them, if a dealer attempts to order a restricted item the total gets rejected). Everything else was shipping and could be ordered, in fact someone in his office was driving one. Well, I wanted to order a Limited with a sunroof and the tow package, so this guy said he would call me when the restrictions werer lifted. I assumed I would never hear from him again. It is so rare that people call when they say they are going to call. So, I was pleasantly shocked when he called me today to say that all restrictions were off except the tow package on a laredo. This didn't affect me, so I was pumped to say the least. But, the Limiteds, new V-8's, and Quadra Drive are still not available until October, but I wanted to try and put one on order.
So, I stopped by name my dealer to talk about ordering one. I wanted to be close to the front of the line. When I got there he had just received a Black Base Laredo w/ Select Track. I was very happy to say the least. I didn't want to buy this vehicle, but it was nice to see one. I drove it, checked it out and thought I might pass along my impressions. My father has a '98 Laredo two wheel drive with the luxury package. My brother has a '98 Laredo w/ select trac, and the luxury package. So, I do have something to compare it to.
First of all, I like the new look. It has a more muscular flowing look. Definitely a Durango influence. The head lamps and tail lamps have a more modern RX-300 look. I think the wider wheels on the Limited Up-Country package will look better, but I don't think the wheels on this Laredo looked too small. I like the look of the new roof rack, but doubt if it is any stronger than the old one. In fact because of the way it's built it might not be as strong. The door handles are much nicer. I like the way they pull from above or below. The same handle is on the hatch too. Bottom line, the exterior is more of an evolution (as we have all heard before) than a total redo. The fit and finish seemed to be top notch and very solid.
There are numerous improvements inside IMHO. I love the new cup holders. The front cup holders are now orientated left to right behind the gear shift. There is a molded rubber insert that is easy to remove for cleaning, or in case you wanted to put a larger cup in the rectangular bin that is left when you take out the insert. The rear cupholders slide out from below the console storage bin, and are much more substantial than last year. They have these spring loaded holders so it will grip those stupid skinny Pepsi bottles. In front of the gear shift is a little bin that also has a molded removable insert that can be removed for easy cleaning. There are two little recessed areas on top of the dash that are covered in a non slip surface. I wouldn't use them as regular storage or put anything up there that could spill, but if you did have to set something on the dash it wouldn't slid all over. Unless the doors in the Limited are different the spring loaded map pockets are gone, and these short, shallow bins are in their place. One of the few dissapointments.
The rear seats go down without having to remove the headrest, but you still have to pull up the bottom of the seat first. I wished they would have given it a little more thought and made it where all you had to do was drop the back down. That's the way it is in the Volvo Wagons, and the cargo area is flat. Behind the seat is very well thought out. No more spare in the cargo area. There is a cargo bin on the right that can also be filled with a 10 disc player on upper end models. The Limiteds also come with a 12 volt outlet. The cargo cover hooks in grooves at the back of the cargo area, instead of on the hatch. This makes it much easier to work with, and you can un-hook it through the hatch glass. The rear hatch also seems to open and close easier. There are four very sturdy places to tie down cargo, as well as some smaller hooks similiar to the ones in the '98s. Overall there are numerous things to like about the inside when compared to the '98's
I took a short drive and found it to be quieter, and more solid than the current model. Steering is better, as well as handling. The acceleration is improved too. I am looking forward to driving new V-8 with the new transmission and the new four wheel drive it should be SWEET. I have been driving a Ford Aerostar Mini Van for too long, and am very excited about getting a new car. I have looked at everything in the mini van and SUV market. I think the '99 GC offers the best combination of on and off-road capability. Sure I would have done a few things different, but there is no perfect vehicle, yet. I will miss the room the van had, but if I just wanted room I would get another van. I want a vehicle with some great luxury features that performs well on and off road. I think the Grand covers better than anything I have seen. Just my .02