So I bought a used benchmark 4WD
While I test cars, I unconsciously compare them to my 17-year-old inline-six “baby” Mercedes to see how far cars have progressed (not far enough really). Similarly, I compare tested sports cars with my 20-year-old modded twin-turbo Supra. But I’ve never owned a 4WD before, and I needed one to judge new trucks against. I set a budget, and I started researching for a reliable, tough and true 4WD that could go up against the latest. Oddly enough, the 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 you see in the picture fit the bill. A Jeep? Reliable? There’s more to the story.
You see, there are two kinds of Jeep. Those built in USA for the States and those built in Austria for the international market. The American-built Jeeps have a terrible reputation for reliability. Nothing survives on those ones built by overpaid UAW union workers. The Austrian ones are outsourced to the same factory that builds Mercedes-Benz 4WD systems, and from what I’ve found out, their quality standards are much higher. In fact, Europeans say the Jeep is a very reliable vehicle. Two different standards for the same car.
My other option was the Nissan Pathfinder. But it turned out the 2002 Pathfinder 3.5 V6 is more cramped, has less gadgets, uses drum brakes in the rear, is much slower, has a simpler transfer case, has an ugly interior, is heavy, has less airbags, weighs the same, has only slightly better fuel economy, and costs more than the Jeep due to its higher resale value. In fact, even the 2007 Pathfinder has trouble matching my old Jeep feature-for-feature. The old Jeep even has better interior materials, compared to the plasticky new Grand Cherokee cabin.
The stupid used car dealers here imported hundreds of American-spec Jeeps into the country, and it is important to completely avoid them. It took me a while to find a GCC-spec truck, and everything actually works on it too. My unregistered Jeep only had the usual “lady-driven” damage on it, namely bad parking scars and an overused sunvisor mirror used for makeup. The metal-plated underbelly was straight, so no offroading was ever done.
How do you spot a GCC-spec? Simple. All GCC Cherokees have a side indicator between the front wheel and the front door. The crappy American ones don’t.
I’ll write a review later to show how this underappreciated 4WD can outrun many new competitors in the market, including some crossovers. I might have problems in the future with running costs, but let’s not worry about that now.