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Then Chrysler president Robert Lutz drove Detroit mayor, Coleman Young, from the Jefferson North Assembly Plant on North Jefferson Avenue via a police escort to Cobo Hall, up the steps of Cobo Hall and through a plate glass window to show off the new vehicle.The original Grand Cherokee was launched in 1992 as a 1993 model year vehicle in the luxury SUV segment.The 5.9 Limited was awarded "4x4 of the Year" for 1998 by Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine. Export models produced at the plant in Graz, Austria, were given the vehicle designation of "ZG".The redesigned WJ 1999 Grand Cherokee shared just 127 parts with its predecessor (mostly fasteners). The spare tire was relocated from the side of the cargo compartment to under the floor.Development work for the new Jeep model continued and Chrysler's employees (after the 1987 buyout of AMC) were eager for a late-1980s release date; however, CEO Lee Iacocca was pushing for redesigned Chrysler minivans, thus delaying the Grand Cherokee's release until late-1992 as an Explorer competitor.Unlike the Explorer, the Grand Cherokee utilized monocoque (unibody) construction, whereas the Explorer was a derivative of the Ranger pickup with a separate body-on-frame.Exterior features included medium-grey plastic paneling on the lower body and five-spoke alloy wheels.
When it was first introduced in April 1992 as an early 1993 model year vehicle, the Grand Cherokee only had one powertrain choice: the 4.0 L AMC-derived straight-six engine that made 190 horsepower.Additional standard features included a driver-side air bag (starting in 96) and four-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS).The Laredo was the mid-scale model with standard features that included power windows, power door locks, cruise control, and a leather wrapped steering wheel.(Like the 1998 ZJ, the rear tailgate glass opened separately.) The two heavy pushrod V8 engines were replaced by Chrysler's then-new Power Tech.The new V8 engine produced less torque than the old pushrods, but was lighter, offered better fuel economy, and provided similar on road performance figures (the 23-gallon fuel tank was replaced with one of a 20.5-gallon capacity). A redesign of the intake manifold added 10 horsepower (7.5 k W).