One of the most recognized brand names in the world, Jeep comes in three flavors--the classic Wrangler, the Cherokee and the Grand Cherokee, luxury version of the Jeep brand and the most popular member of its tribe. The Grand Cherokee outsells all sport-utilities but the Ford Explorer in the U.S. market--about 280,000 sales in 1996, a healthy 12% increase over 1995. The Grand Cherokee itself comes in several interesting levels--Laredo, Limited and the Orvis Edition, named for the outdoor gear company and similar in character to the Explorer Eddie Bauer models. Until last year, when both the Explorer V8 and Mercury Mountaineer made their debuts, the Grand Cherokee was the only compact sport-utility to offer a V8 engine option, but that market exclusive is history now, and the Grand Cherokee will have to go on its other merits. One of its best merits, we think, is the sharp-edge body design, a design scheme that was accepted immediately when this truck showed up four years ago, and stands out in the crowd now because most of the other sport utes in this size/price class look like gigantic scoops of melting ice cream, with compound curves on all the corners. For 1997, there is a small group of minor improvements to this six-year-old SUV: the base radio is upgraded, the carpeting is upgraded, the rear seat heat duct is extended, the tilt steering column is modified for improved function, the ABS system is improved and all models get a full-body anti-chip paint treatment. There are also eight new colors to choose from.