I was sure I had already found out about every interesting vehicle offered in the 90’s until I stumbled across this Jeep in a parking lot.
At first, I just assumed somebody had unduly installed a mesh grill and some hood vents on a regular ZJ (The designation for all 1993-98 Grand Cherokees) and then added some Dakota R/T badges for good measure. While it turns out the badges really are bogus, this truck actually is something special.
For 1998, the final year of the ZJ platform, Chrysler decided to let the body style go out with a bang and cooked up the Grand Cherokee Limited 5.9. Hopefully you can guess what it’s got under the hood. The 5.9 makes 245 hp and 345 lb-ft of torque. Motor Trend was able to get a 6.8 second 0-60 time out of one, making it the quickest SUV available in 1998. It was also the fastest Jeep until the 2006 Grand Cherokee SRT8 was released.
Aside from the motor, there were a few other changes, including the mesh grill inserts, the functional hood vents, special paint and wheels, an Infinity stereo system, more leather and wood (not too sure how I feel about that one), a 150 amp alternator, and an updated exhaust system. Sounds a lot like the formula Chevy used a couple years later on the 2000 Tahoe Limited, but that’s for a different article all together I guess.
Out of the 1.4 million ZJs sold between 1993 and 1998, about 14,000 Limited 5.9 models were made, which would mean that roughly 1% of ZJs were 5.9 Limiteds. I’m not sure If I agree with that math though, because I’m sure I’ve seen well over a thousand Grand Cherokees in my life and I’ve only seen one of these models so far. I’ve still never seen a Grand Cherokee TSi either though, and although I can’t find any production numbers on those, I do know that they were not very popular and might possibly be even more rare.
The thing I like most about this truck is how tasteful and subtle the upgrades are. Today, when a vehicle gets a special model, the manufacturer goes to great lengths to make you understand what you are looking at. Not the case here. Sure, it may not be the fastest SUV on the road any more these days, but who cares? It’s got more than enough style to make up for any shortcomings in the power department. More importantly, it reminded me that there still are interesting cars out there that I haven’t heard of yet.