Our Jeep went for its last service back in November. While it has been a great car, decently reliable despite misgivings about Chrysler quality, we were fine with the cost of regular servicing because we could afford it. But then we realised that the dealer service charges were only slightly less than that for Mercedes-Benz. That got us a bit peeved, and we decided that we might as well get a better car to pour money into.
Mash's 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 Limited
There I was, letting my Jeep collect dust as I tested various other cars. Then I hear from a friend of a friend about a new detailing shop that he’d opened in Dubai recently, and was looking to make his mark in the industry. The place is called Farba Guard, and after speaking to Mohsin, the owner, and seeing his passion for detailing cars, I figured I could give the new place a shot and hand over my stagnant Jeep for a complimentary full detail for this story.
We’ve been using the 2011 Infiniti QX56 long-termer as our daily driver for the past two months. But if you’re wondering whatever happened to our 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee, it’s still around. Late last summer, we took a trip down to Sharjah and bought parts worth Dhs 1300 or so to make it look new again.
Something rather weird happened with my 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee. After the starter motor blew out late last year, I got a brand new one fitted from the dealer. Then over the winter, my fuel consumption started dropping dramatically. As stated by the trip computer, it went from hovering above 17 litres/100 km down to as low as 15.5 litres/100 km, all without any change in driving style. One could attribute this to many other things, like winter weather or a dying trip computer, but neither can be proven definitively. This wasn’t my first winter with the Jeep, and the trip computer seems to be otherwise working fine.
This urban comparo is about as meaningless as it gets, but for the sake of argument, we’ll give it a go anyway. We’ve had a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 since late 2007, and this is the first time that we’ve managed to drive another Jeep vehicle since then. Our Grand Cherokee was the epitome of American 4x4s back in its day, with capable off-road and on-road performance, packed with leather, full-time 4WD and a V8. The Wrangler has always been a simplistic offroader, but the latest generation claims to be the most refined and practical Wrangler ever, with options such as four doors and Bluetooth,
So the Jeep has been running reasonably for the past year. I was also happy that I had a lifted vehicle with full-time all-wheel-drive during the recent rainy weather when many cars crashed and drowned. We have more or less kept up with maintenance, as we will list below. And then a problem started cropping up, with warning signs that we ignored until it was too late.
Every time I test a brand new luxury “crossover” 4×4, I realise just how brutish, noisy and unrefined my aging Jeep is. But then I remember that none of these new-fangled “crossover” thingies can even think about going off-road. And that should count for something. The 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee is chugging along rather decently in its 7th year.
Chrysler knew that their Jeep Grand Cherokee was a cash cow, and went all-out on its 1999 redesign. A lot of work went into this one, including frame engineering inputs from none other than Porsche. The result was a true off-roader with solid-axle front and rear suspension, with acceleration and handling performance that was surprising for such a “simple” setup. Indeed, barring the Wrangler, it was the last of the real Jeeps. Quality problems made it a headache to own, right up till 2002, when most reliability issues were sorted out. But the stigma of “unreliable American cars” forever haunts the Jeep brand,
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.
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