TTAC commentator photogo2 writes:
I need someone to tell me I am an idiot.
I am considering buying a ZJ (1993-1998) Jeep Grand Cherokee for a daily driver. I am most interested in a 1993-1995 V8 model, specifically for the combination of the bulletproof 318 ci/5.2 L engine and the 46RH transmission (a transmission I suppose will be slightly less likely to destroy itself than the later 44RE models…). I am a semi-decent hack mechanic who supports a BMW 2002tii (which is my daily driver in nice weather) and an E46 330i nearing its 12th birthday, so the prospect of mechanical repairs isn’t frightening. I’ve found some with reasonable miles for good prices and can live with the gas mileage, especially considering it will average about 5,000 miles per year.
I really like the cargo capacity and the ability to take it slightly off-road. Plus, it would/should be a good support vehicle is the cars ever need a tow. My main concern is just how stupid of a move am I making? Is a Jeep ZJ a terrible choice? Should I be considering something else?
PS- the wife won’t be willing to drive a Panther when her E46 is out of service. She is okay with the smaller Jeep.
What’s the deal with the B&B’s significant others’ non-love of Panthers? Like my Match.com photo album filled with brown Grand Marquis coupes and Cartier Town Cars doesn’t attract ALL the ladies! There’s nothing wrong with my strategy, obviously.
And while you spent the time reading the above drivel, I used it to Google this helpful thread. And this one. None of it looks especially horrifying. And once again, Google is your friend when it comes to common problems on damn near anything. Except when I tried to figure out which year the Jeep’s 4.0L mill went from phenolic timing gears to metal, a big concern for me. I think all 4.0’s had metal teeth by the 1990s, but this is one for the B&B to verify.
And with all this information, it’s time for perspective. The Jeep is fine provided you’re ready to replace all worn rubber bits (belts, hoses, vac lines, O-rings, bushings) and any signs of obvious neglect that naturally occurs on old machines. I’d rather do extensive basic upkeep on a ZJ than damn near any electrical glitch on an E46.
The ZJ is not a terrible choice for an addition to your rather cool family. But a similar vintage Ford Explorer, Chevy Blazer or Toyota 4Runner is also fine. The Chevy/Ford might be the best considering they do all the same things, but usually sell for less than the (artificial?) premium I see on Toyotas and Jeeps in the used car market.
Then again, if I wanted a daily driver, the ZJ is probably my favorite of the bunch.
Long story short: go ahead and get a fully-depreciated SUV for your family. Care less about the brand, more about the options/condition/service history. Since you were kind enough to consider a Panther, I’d recommend you also consider the truly epic, 1993-only, ZJ Jeep Wagoneer.