I held my breath in February of 2000 when I decided I would pay $9700 for a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee that had almost 98K miles. Having just wrecked my last car and wanting an SUV that was in my price range, I decided to take the plunge.
3 1/2 years later (September 2003), I can honestly say there are fewer decisions I've ever made that make me as happy as buying my Jeep. She's gotten me all over the Midwest like a champ. The body was great when I bought it, and still is. The interior looks new, which is a testament to the the previous owner and my desire to keep it that way.
When talking engines with mechanics and others, I've learned that the 4.0 I-6 is amazingly tough and will stand up to any test I've given it. A college roommate of mine and his father put 200K on a I-6 in an old Cherokee and had to quit driving it when the transmission left at that point. I change my oil when it needs it, depending on the type of driving I've been doing. Simply put, I would strongly consider marrying this engine if it would bring me beer and do the dishes too.
The transmission scares me a little, mostly because of stories I've heard, not that I can tell firsthand. Mine is still strong at 138K, with the only slips coming in the coldest of winter. When (and if) mine goes, a local mechanic has quoted me a price of $800-$1100 to rebuild it with a 12-month, 12,00- warranty. As with any repair, I will trust my Jeep to the 'little guy' who has to keep his reputation in town.
The 4WD is outstanding. Growing up in Iowa and living for years 3 miles from the nearest pavement, we had our fair share of trips in the 1980 Chevy truck to get where we needed to go. I would put the foothold the Jeep gives me on snow up against that any day. It honestly is the most secure I've ever felt on snow and ice in any vehicle I've been in. I have to TRY and break traction in parking lots, etc. when goofing off in snow when it's in 4WD. Even in 2WD in snow the Jeep impresses me.
The driver who put the majority of my Jeep's miles on was a hot-air balloon pilot and traveled across the country a great deal. I also have put plenty of highway miles on my Jeep. I baby it and take care of it as if has to last me a lifetime. Some days I think it could.
Gas mileage is solid, especially when you accelerate slowly and make a conscious effort to save gas. A trip 500 mile trip last weekend yielded me the best mileage I've gotten in my Jeep at 23.4 MPG.
The interior has held up well. Even the driver seat resembles more of a new seat that on that's 10 years old.
Other: Paint is great, no rust at all. Radio was replaced with am aftermarket CD player and speakers too.