Between 1982 and 1991, sales of so called Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) in the USA rocketed from 100,000 to 900,000 per year. Chrysler had wisely bought up the Jeep brand name and image when it took over AMC in 1987. The company suddenly found itself possibly the world’s best known off roading badge with which to exploit a massive booming market niche. Two new Jeep badged off roadster were an integral part of Chrysler’s recovery plan for the early 1990s. The smaller of the two, the jeep Cherokee arrived just before the Range Rover sized Grand, which was launched in the early 1992. The Grand said a lot about Jeep’s engineering and styling abilities even as part of the ailing AMC Empire. It was especially surprising considering that the Grand Cherokee’s predecessor was an ancient mock luxury truck. With a new vehicle entering the luxury off road segment, Chrysler found itself with a car that had a badge to challenge the prestige of Range Rover and a styling package that suggested a futuristic version of the classic British workhouse. Early reports on the Cherokee were sure that it was also far better built than its British made rival.Under the stylish shell, the Grand, like the Jeep rode on comparatively crude (through well located) beam axles and coil suspension.
It had a very well developed ride for its class of car, and it handled with surprisingly alacrity. Finely conceived and good looking SUVs, the Cherokees were big successes in the home market, and made serious inroads into the brand conscious European market. Although the Grand was replaced in 1998, the original was probably good enough to sell into a new millennium.