2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee price starts at $27,415

The Jeep Cherokee, designed by Dick Teague, is a prime example of how great designs never go out of style. It is possibly the best SUV shape of all time, and it serves as the model to which other designers have subsequently aspired. Its look unmistakably says Jeep, even in the slightly exaggerated face-lifts that emerged over its seventeen-year production run.

The simplicity and directness of its boxy lines are ideal for what the automobile was–and still, as tens of thousands are still on the road–and the shape’s utility is obvious. Today’s ubiquitous tall 4×4 station wagons owe their existence to the Cherokee and its massive commercial success. Without the Cherokee, there would be no Toyota RAV-4 or Honda CR-V. The ’80s Cherokee, like all Jeeps of its period, was exceptionally capable off-road; in fact, it performed better in poor weather than on the freeway.

20 Greatest Cars - 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee price starts at $27,415

Nonetheless, it was highly sought after as a particularly attractive urban vehicle when a striking all-black-with-gold-stripe livery turned it from truck to limousine in the eyes of innumerable suburban owners. Renault owned American Motors when the Cherokee was designed, and it began offering its own 2.1-liter diesel engine in 1985. With such features, the Cherokee sold exceptionally well outside of the United States, which was unusual for an American vehicle.

The Cherokee was first offered with a General Motors 2.8-liter V-6 and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine adapted from an AMC in-line six designed by Franois Castaing (the brilliant Renault engineer who introduced turbochargers to Formula 1). It later featured a 190-hp, 4.0-liter straight six. Its successor, the rounder, “cute-ute” Liberty, has never surpassed the Cherokee’s market share, despite being roomier, smoother to drive, and just as capable off-road. Better styling leads to higher sales; this is a lesson DaimlerChrysler should learn.