Jeep has a colourful history starting off with the classic (general purpose or GP) army Jeep which made it’s debut in 1941. Originally built by the Willys company, it became part of AMC and then Chrysler of which it is still a part.
While the newest models of the classic Jeep, the Wrangler (JK) is still a pretty rugged vehicle, it is “softened – as in rides less like a buckboard” by it’s modern features. The Jeep line up has featured pick up trucks, none of which were very popular, along with the immensely popular Cherokee which is one of the first Sport Utility vehicles. The Cherokee expanded into the Grand Cherokee, a larger and highly luxurious vehicle.
Jeep vehicles are generally reliable and some have been very tough. The V8 engines found in the Grand Cherokees are very good as is the 4-liter straight six available in all models.
On the down side some Jeeps have been built in an overly complex manner making repairs expensive.
Here’s an example from an early 2000s Grand Cherokee. Radiator replacement on this vehicle is very expensive for several reasons: the radiator and A/C condenser are bolted together and the radiator fan is driven by the power steering pump. This fan drive system is unique to this Jeep and involves a complex set of pipes between the pump & fan. Why they chose this complicated system is beyond me, as there seems little advantage to it. What all of these complexities have done is to make a simple job difficult with the car owner paying. Had they used an electric fan and mounted the condenser with a separate bracket the radiator, replacement would cost a few hundred dollars less.
As with many luxurious vehicles the added features in the Grand Cherokee leave more to break down and increase repair costs.
Off-road, Jeeps perform well especially the “real Jeep” due to its short wheel base. There is a plethora of accessories to customize these vehicles so if you are looking for a custom off-road vehicle a fabulous one can be made, provided you like the rough, jerky ride.