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Autotrader’s 20th Anniversary: Jeep Grand Cherokee

To commemorate Autotrader’s 20th Anniversary, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most-searched new cars on the site and compared the current versions to their 20-year-old former selves. Ironically, the only passenger cars to make the list are two high-performance coupes, with not a single sedan or hatchback making the cut.

Number 8: Jeep Grand Cherokee

Although the Jeep brand is often associated with rugged, off-road-ready 4-wheelers, there is one model that combines Jeep’s Trail Rated ability with a level of luxury and refinement normally reserved for brands such as BMW, Lexus and Audi. It’s the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Now nearly 25 years old, the Grand Cherokee hasn’t strayed an inch from its original mission as a 5-passenger SUV with the comforts of a car and the off-road chops of a Jeep. What has changed is the Grand Cherokee’s better build quality, extensive high-tech features and broad powertrain choices.

Today’s Grand Cherokee is offered in no less than eight trims: Laredo, Laredo E, Altitude, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit and SRT. The first three trims are powered by a robust 3.6-liter V6 good for 295 horsepower. Limited trims use the same engine and offer the option of 3.0-liter turbodiesel good for 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. The Trailhawk offers the V6, turbodiesel or a 360-hp 5.7-liter Hemi V8, while the performance-oriented SRT is endowed with a massive 6.4-liter Hemi V8 producing a tire-smoking 475 hp. Jeep also offers a number of 4-wheel-drive systems, including Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II with a 2-speed transfer case and Selec-Terrain adjustable terrain settings, Quadra-Drive II with an electronic limited-slip rear differential and a Quadra-Lift air suspension, and, finally, the Quadra-Trac SRT system, designed for the high-performance SRT model.

1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee

In 1997, the 18th James Bond film, "Tomorrow Never Dies," debuted, the San Francisco 49ers retired Joe Montana’s number 16 jersey, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee entered its fourth year as one of the most successful new SUVs on the market. The Grand Cherokee gained two new trims in 1997: the Special Edition and sport-themed TSI, neither of which survived past 1998. Jeep’s venerable 4.0-liter inline 6-cylinder was the standard engine, with a 5.2-liter V8 optional. 1997 would also be the last year for the Orvis Edition Grand Cherokee.

Other Notable Accomplishments at Jeep in 1997

1997 saw the launch of the all-new TJ-series Jeep Wrangler. The TJ replaced the previous generation’s front leaf-spring design with a modern coil-spring system borrowed from the Grand Cherokee; it also brought back the CJ’s signature round headlights. 1997 also saw a major overhaul of the much-loved Cherokee, bringing it more modern styling and a new interior.

Read more about the 10 most-searched new cars on Autotrader:

#1: Ford F-Series
#2: Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra
#3: Jeep Wrangler
#4: RAM 1500/2500
#5: Chevrolet Camaro
#6: Toyota Tacoma
#7: Ford Mustang
#8: Jeep Grand Cherokee
#9: Chevrolet Tahoe
#10: Toyota Tundra

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