Pros: Comfortable Interior, overhead trip console
Cons: gas mileage
I purchased the 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee Sport model. The Sport model was a limited edition for 2002 and it sits in a class between the Laredo and the Limited and it's basically Laredo model with all the bells and whistles. For starters, the Sport model comes equipped with the standard features you find on all Laredo's such as:
* Anti Lock brakes *power window/locks/drivers seat
*Air Conditioning *foldaway mirrors
*Remote keyless entry *Quadra Track 4WD
*overhead trip console * 4.0L V6 Power Tech I-6
*4 speed automatic trans *60/40 rear split folding seats
*Drivers side airbag
The V8 was optional but no dealerships I visited had the V8 on the lot, they all cited that those wanting the V8 were better off with the Limited or Overland.
What makes the Sport model unique is that it comes standard with all kinds of options that are normally add on's that will jack up the price quite a bit such as:
*leather interior *all power seats with memory
*CD player w/ Infinity Gold system and equalizer *power moonroof *heated exterior mirrors * fog lamps
*leather wrapped wheel *17'' wheels
*intermittent wipers (front and rear) *tilt wheel
*Jeep Sport emblems *Dual Climate control
* Homelink Universal Tranciever (built by Johnson Controls it allows you to program garage door openers into the overhead console buttons).
The exterior of the Sport model is identical to the Laredo except the Sport has a black ribbed panel below the mid level trim. To further clarify....the Laredo has a black bumper strip about 2/3's of the way down the vehicle which is used to buffer car doors hitting your vehicle in a parking lot. On the Sport model there is a black panel below the bumper strip vs. an exposed metal area below the strip on the Laredo. The purpose of the black panel is to protect your vehicles paint from being damaged by road debris, it also adds a nice contrast to the exterior color scheme. There is also a small Sport emblem on each side of the vehicle. It's a classy touch, it's not too big that it looks like a Jeep advertisement. Jeep offered all their standard exterior colors on the Sport model. There were also two brand new colors that Jeep introduced in 2002, Steel Blue and Onyx Green, both are Pearle Coats. I loved both these colors, the Steel Blue is a softer tone than the Patriot Blue that Jeep offers and the Onyx Green is a softer tone than the Hunter Green we see all over the roads. Check them out on Jeep.com under "build your own vehicle". But they were only available on the Sport models. This alone was enough to keep me from buying the Laredo or the Limited.
Basically Jeep added all the most popular options in a single package for you and calls it the Sport Model. Normally I'm quite suspicious of packages like this and often consider them marketing gimicks to get you to spend more money. However, after researching on Edunds.com I found that the Sport model with all these options was priced much less than if you bought the Laredo and added them on. MSRP on the Sport is 29K, MSRP on the Laredo was 27K. Add on all the options included on the Sport to the Laredo cost and MSRP was $33K. Much to my surprise, it actually was a good buy! In 2002 Jeep was running a promotion for $2000 off all models except the Sport. This almost swayed me to go with the Laredo, but after I added just a few options I was in the $29K range so it made more sense to get the Sport with many more options for the same price.
As far as being a Jeep owner goes, I find the 2002 Jeep a pleasure to drive. In highway and city conditions it handles very well for a 5400 pound vehicle, the brakes are very responsive, steering is very tight. I had a 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee prior to this 2002 and the handling and braking in the 1996 were horrible, it felt like I was driving an 18 wheeler. The 2002 is much improved, I feel that I can stop short and can make a quick swerve if needed, neither of which I felt safe about in the 1996 model. I've always experienced minimal interior noise too. Neither wind nor bumpy terrain resulted in the annoying interior noise I expereinced on my 1996. Acceleration has been great as well, easily reaching passing speeds on busy highways and very responsive. The 1996 Jeep was horrible in this area, 2002 is much improved.
Jeep had ease of use and drivers safety in mind when they laid out the dashboard and drivers console. The dashboard is clutter free and easy to read. There's no unecessary "light show" taking place to distract you while your driving. The Spedometer is a standard needle rather than an LCD digital readout (one less gadget that can break and easier to read while driving). The climate controls are large knobs which are "idiot proof" and offer no distractions to the driver. The CD/Stereo not inundated with controls, knobs and features to distract the driver but still delivers state of the art crisp sound.. The leather interior comes in three colors, dark grey, taupe and sandstone and it is super comfortable, it's very soft (yet still durable) which is great for long trips, you sink right in to the seat. Both the drivers and passengers seats in the front are very spacious. The backseet is a tad small for three adults. It can fit two very easily and comfortably, but I don't recommend putting three of your middle age ex jock pals back there! Jeep finally got the hint that taking the headrest out when folding the rear seats down was a real pain in the neck. They now stay attached to the seat and simply collapse for easy folding. Nice job Jeep! Rear storage is adequate, you've got about a 5x5 area of space without folding down the seats. The Sport comes with the cargo net and pullover cover.
The exterior design remains unchanged from 2001. The foglights offer the sporty look and extra visibility that I like for night time driving. I can't say enough about the Steel Blue color either, I've had many compliments on it. While Jeeps are still all over the roads, there are very few of the Steel Blue out there.
I also splurged on the extended warranty. Jeep gives you a 3 year/36K miles warranty. For an additional $1400 I extended full interior and exterior coverage to 100K miles/7 years. Think about it, if one power item needs to be replaced down the road it will cost you much more than $1400! You can haggle with Jeep on the price of these contracts too, I think it's money well spent and it's fully transferable which ups the resale value of your vehicle. Jeep will also give you a pro rated refund should you decide to sell that car and not transfer the warranty.
All in all...the Jeep has everything you could ask for and then some at a reasonable price. Maybe that's why we see so many of them on the road. It's got the power that I want in an SUV, the safety my wife wants, and the comfort we both want for us and the kids.