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Jeep Grand Cherokee: Yearly Changes

If you’re interested in buying a used Jeep Grand Cherokee, you might be wondering which year it added a certain feature, started offering a certain powertrain or changed designs to a certain look. To help you out, we’ve rounded up all the key Grand Cherokee revision updates and changes since the second-generation model debuted for the 1999 model year — that way you can easily figure out the specific model years to focus on if you’re looking for a used Grand Cherokee.


The Grand Cherokee’s first generation ended in 1998, and an all-new model debuted for the 1999 model year. Known in Grand Cherokee circles as the WJ model, it offered two engines. Base models used a 195-horsepower 4.0-liter 6-cylinder, while drivers looking for more power could upgrade to a 230-hp 4.7-liter V8. Both models were only offered with a 4-speed automatic transmission, and both featured standard rear-wheel drive with optional 4-wheel drive. In 1999, the Grand Cherokee offered two trims: a base-level Laredo and an upscale Limited, which added leather upholstery, body-colored side trim, an improved sound system and steering-wheel audio controls.


The Grand Cherokee received minimal changes for 2000.


The Grand Cherokee’s biggest change for 2001 was the addition of a new 5-speed automatic transmission for V8 models, which was designed to improve gas mileage. Limited models also added larger wheels (17s instead of earlier 16s) and a standard CD player, while all Grand Cherokee models also received very slight interior revisions.


The Grand Cherokee added two new trim levels for 2002: a value-packed Sport, which offered leather upholstery and heated mirrors, and the upscale Overland, which slotted above the Limited and touted styling revisions and other upgrades — along with a high-output V8 that brought power to 265 hp. Also newly available in 2002 were side-curtain airbags, a tire pressure monitor, automatic wipers and power adjustable pedals. Finally, the Laredo added a standard CD player, the Limited offered the new high-output V8 as an option, and a new Special Edition model added a 10-disc CD changer and body-colored exterior trim.


The Grand Cherokee was almost completely unchanged for 2003, with the exception of slight ride and handling improvements and the removal of the ashtray in favor of a new small storage bin.


For 2004, the Grand Cherokee added a Columbia version (in partnership with Columbia Sportswear), a new Freedom model and a newly revived Special Edition trim. The Grand Cherokee also offered a navigation system in 2004 for the first time ever, along with a 2-wheel-drive version of the high-end Overland model.


The Grand Cherokee was fully redesigned for the 2005 model year, with a newly shaped Jeep dubbed the WK model. Three engines were offered in 2005 — a 210-hp 3.7-liter V6, a 230-hp 4.7-liter V8 and a 325-hp 5.7-liter V8 — all mated to 5-speed automatic transmissions and rear- or all-wheel drive. Side-curtain airbags were optional, while anti-lock brakes were standard; other options included Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system, park assist, a DVD entertainment system, a navigation system and heated front seats. Once again, the Grand Cherokee was offered in two trim levels: the base-level Laredo and upscale Limited.


Despite its recent redesign, the Grand Cherokee made two significant upgrades for 2006. The first was a high-end Overland model that slotted above the Grand Cherokee Limited and included most previously optional features as standard equipment, including the Limited’s 5.7-liter V8. The second upgrade was the addition of a new high-performance model, dubbed the Grand Cherokee SRT8, which offered a monstrous 425-hp 6.1-liter V8 — and just 12 miles per gallon in the city and 15 mpg on the highway.


The Grand Cherokee made several adjustments for the 2007 model year, most notably including the addition of standard side-curtain airbags, which had previously been optional. A backup camera and a remote starter also became optional. Finally, the Grand Cherokee added a new optional engine to its lineup: a 215-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6, which touted up to 18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy — an increase of 1 mpg city/3 mpg hwy over the standard V6.


The Grand Cherokee made minor changes for 2008, the largest of which was a new 305-hp 4.7-liter V8, which replaced the earlier 235-hp 4.7-liter V8. The Grand Cherokee also added optional hill-descent control and trailer-sway control for the 2008 model year. Finally, Jeep upgraded the Grand Cherokee’s interior, giving it higher-quality surfaces and a telescopic steering wheel.


Only minor updates came for 2009, including a revised Uconnect infotainment system with a newly standard iPod interface and an enhanced version of the SUV’s HEMI V8, now touting 357 hp — up from 325 horses last year.


With an all-new model on the way for 2011, the Grand Cherokee pared down production, losing its Overland model along with its 4.7-liter V8 and optional diesel V6.


For 2011, the Grand Cherokee was again fully redesigned — this time to an all-new version confusingly dubbed the WK2. There were three trim levels — Laredo, Limited and Overland — and two engine options: a standard 290-hp 3.6-liter V6 and an optional 360-hp 5.7-liter HEMI V8. Once again, rear-wheel drive was standard, and all-wheel drive was optional. New features included an available air suspension, along with new luxuries such as xenon headlights, a power tailgate, a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats.


Updates for 2012 added two models: the high-end Overland Summit and the high-performance SRT8. The Overland Summit was a true luxury SUV, touting adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert and a blind spot monitoring system, in addition to standard features from the Overland such as 20-inch wheels, an air suspension, a power lift gate and an upgraded infotainment system with real-time traffic. Meanwhile, the newly revived SRT8 model touted a 470-hp 6.4-liter V8 and boasted a 0-to-60 mile-per-hour time of around 5 seconds flat.


The Grand Cherokee’s major change for 2013 was the addition of a Trailhawk model, which touted upgraded tires and several standard off-roading accessories.


The Grand Cherokee received a major facelift for 2014, with revised styling, new wheel designs and updated front and rear ends — though changes didn’t go as far as a full redesign. Although engines remained the same, all Grand Cherokee models added a new 8-speed automatic transmission that improved gas mileage and acceleration. The Grand Cherokee also added a newly optional 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6, which made 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque while returning impressive fuel economy numbers of up to 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy. Also newly available was Jeep’s excellent new Uconnect infotainment system, which featured an 8.4-in display. It was optional on Laredo and Limited models and standard on the Grand Cherokee Overland, Overland Summit and the newly renamed Grand Cherokee SRT.


After major changes last year, the Grand Cherokee was almost completely unchanged for 2015, save for some shuffling of standard and optional features.


The Jeep Grand Cherokee makes only minor changes for 2016, including newly standard stop/start technology in V6 models to improve gas mileage, a new gauge cluster for the SRT model and a new High Altitude package for the Overland, which adds 20-in black wheels, black exterior accents and upgraded tech features such as adaptive cruise control and automatic forward-collision braking.

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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  1. Hoping to purchase a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee, but the auto-stop start feature has me holding off for now.   I have specific wants (White, Black leather interior, Navigation, 20″ wheels and most other high end options).   I did find a device to stop the auto-start feature which annoys most that have it, but find the 3.6L engine to be a thirsty engine.   Would love to hear your pros/cons on this specific vehicle! 

    • The 3.6 V-6 is “thirsty”???
      I must have missed the memo on that one. I have a 2014 Summit (QT-II/V-6) and it has done a consistent 26-27 MPG on the open road, and ~20 MPG in combined (mostly stop and go) driving. It has been a real gem, and we love it, although it is now almost five years old and my wife is considering trading. Her next choice will be a 2018 Grand Cherokee Summit as well.

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