Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep Cherokee was one of the first SUVs on the market that offered sport performance, better fuel economy, and better usability to the average driver. The Cherokee was originally used as a name for the 1970s era Wagoneer, as it was given its own nameplate in 1994. The Cherokee was discontinued when the Jeep Liberty was introduced to the market in 2001.

More on the Jeep Cherokee
About the Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep Cherokee was known for its economic use of space. The days of the incredibly massive SUVs were on the decline. The Cherokee could navigate small offroad trails and was easier to park in the city. Before, drivers were stuck with massive vehicles with little maneuverability often took up two spaces.

One problem with the build of the Cherokee was its height. Getting in and out of the vehicle could prove difficult for some individuals and was virtually impossible for anyone with mobility issues. The rear seats were also cramped for adult passengers.

Jeep Cherokee Features

The first vehicles to use the Jeep Cherokee name were produced between 1974 and 1983. These early models were huge, full-size wagons that introduced a two-wheel SUV style to the Jeep company. Along with a big body was a big engine; the wagon came with an inline six-cylinder or the more powerful V-8 engine. The name plate from the original Cherokee was carried over to the new, smaller Jeep Cherokee.

The first generation Jeep Cherokees took the name plate from the wagon in 1984 and ran until 1996. It was a unibody vehicle, built body on frame. During the run, two- and four-door versions of the vehicle were available. The Cherokee, weighing in at 3,100 pounds, was a lot smaller than other SUV models available at the time.

The low weight was due to the fact that the first Cherokees had a relatively weak engine. A 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder was only able to produce 105 horsepower. A 2.8-liter V-6 engine was also available, but only boosted output to 115 horsepower. The engine was controlled by a three-speed automatic transmission or an option of a four- or five-speed manual transmission. The Cherokee was available as a two- or four-wheel drive. The two-wheel drive had part-time Command Trac controls as well as full-time Command-Trac controls.

1987 was the year for a power boost. A 4.0-liter inline-six was introduced that produced a greatly improved 177 horsepower. The inline-four was also upgraded to produce 121 horsepower. A four-speed automatic transmission was introduced to the six-cylinder, and the three-speed transmission was dropped. Several trim lines were introduced, including a Laredo sport that had a redesigned gold mesh wheel and racing stripes.

1991 saw a second power upgrade. The new four-cylinder increased power from 121 to 130 horses. The inline-six was boosted to 190 horsepower, making it the most popular choice available. The engines were also quieter than previous versions, making for a more pleasant ride.

Jeep Cherokee Evolution

Then second generation of Jeep Cherokees were almost the same as the first, with a few minor changes. The exterior had a smoother nose and redesigned taillights. The interior of the vehicle was also redesigned. The dashboard had a new layout and airbags were added. Several trim lines were added, but none of them dealt with the lack of storage space inside the vehicle.

The Cherokee was available with a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder that produced 190 horsepower as well as a 4.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that produced 190 horsepower. A five-speed manual or a three-speed automatic transmission controlled the inline four-cylinder, while a choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic was provided for the 4.0-liter. Rear-drive and four-wheel drive options were available. The four-wheel drive vehicles had a choice between a part-time Command-Trac and a full-time Selec-trac.

The second generation Jeep Cherokees were also excellent offroad vehicles. The acceleration and handling were impressive, though the suspension was often described as somewhat stiff. The downside of a cramped cabin as well as limited cargo space continued.

Old Jeep Cherokees are typically reliable used vehicles. They are very popular on the used-car market and are often even available in large quantities. Since the engines and drive trains are very sturdy, they work well as long as they've been taken care of. It is not uncommon to find Jeep Cherokees modified with offroad, performance-enhancing tweaks. Check the maintenance record before purchasing any used Cherokee.

No plan for a 2012 Jeep Cherokee is in the works, although the Cherokee name lives on in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. If you are looking for a sturdy, older vehicle, the Jeep Cherokee is definitely worth considering.

Select a Jeep Cherokee Year

2000 Jeep Cherokee

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The Cherokee first rolled out in 1984 and started the love affair between American consumers and sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

1999 Jeep Cherokee

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 1999 Jeep Cherokee is a unibody compact SUV manufactured by Chrysler under its American Motors division.

1998 Jeep Cherokee

SUV, Utility/Offroad

Chrysler Introduced the Jeep Cherokee in 1984 as one of the first compact SUVs on the market.

1997 Jeep Cherokee

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 1997 Jeep Cherokee was originally a great leap forward for the sport utility vehicle (SUV) market.

1996 Jeep Cherokee

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 1996 Jeep Cherokee was originally a great leap forward for the sport utility vehicle (SUV) market when it was first released.

1995 Jeep Cherokee

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The Jeep Cherokee originally made a great leap forward for the SUV market.

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