1984 – 1990 Wagoneer Limited (XJ)
The Jeep® Wagoneer Limited was the family-oriented XJ model with a heart of dirt – and we mean that in the best way possible.
The top-of-the-line Limited featured creature comforts like power seats, locks, and windows, air conditioning, and interior leather upholstery. On the exterior, vinyl wood side trim and a bright grille set the Wagoneer Limited apart. Later in the vehicle’s life, quad headlights were added.
Its platform-sibling, the Cherokee (next week’s featured “Heritage Friday” vehicle), is better known for its off-road capability, but the Wagoneer Limited was no slouch on tough terrain. “Part-time” Command-Trac® or “full-time” Selec-Trac® 4WD systems were available.
The Command-Trac system features shift-on-the-fly capability, letting the driver shift in or out of 4WD while the vehicle is in motion. The Selec-Trac system, even more sophisticated, is engaged at all times and eliminates binding (also known as “crow hopping”) when 4WDs operate on dry pavement.
In 1986, Jeep compared its products with competitors, putting up the XJ Wagoneer against the Buick Electra four-door wagon and Volvo Turbo Wagon. As one might have guessed, the Jeep beat both its competitors, though the comparison was made on items selected by Jeep — standard features (shift on the fly 4WD, radio, bucket seats, roof rack, system sentry, gas mileage, etc.). The Buick retailed for $15,323, the Volvo for $18,950, and the XJ Wagoneer for $18,186. Of note was the gas mileage of the Wagoneer — with its gasoline four-cylinder and three-speed automatic, it matched the Buick (with a diesel V8) and Volvo (with a four-cylinder turbo and manual transmission), getting 18 city, 21 highway mpg vs the competitors’ 16/23 and 17/22. Optional engines for the XJ Wagoneer at the time were the 2.1 liter turbodiesel and a troublesome 2.8 liter GM V6.
As for the Grand Wagoneer… large print declared, “Jeep Grand Wagoneer has no rival… why do you suppose it’s the solitary entry in the full-size, 4-wheel drive luxury wagon class?”
Chrysler took over AMC in 1987, purportedly to gain Jeep; they also gained the AMC engineering system and Francois Castaing, thereby sowing the seeds of Chrysler’s mid-1990s rebirth.
For 1987, the XJ Wagoneers got the new, high-tech 4.0 liter straight-six — based on an old block, updated with state of the art heads, Renault-Bendix fuel injection, and electronic ignition — while the pricier, larger Grand Wagoneers got an old six cylinder (soon dropped) or the 360 cubic inch AMC V8, then producing just 144 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque.
The old Jeep 360 didn’t produce much more horsepower than the new 4.0 six, but it stayed in the Grand Wagoneer, presumably to avoid engineering costs for a vehicle whose days were numbered. Buyers would get 16 mpg city, 20 highway in the new Wagoneer, but just 11 city, 13 highway in the new/old, and heavier, Grand Wagoneer.
The durability of the straight six must have made AMC engineers proud and Chrysler warranty adjusters happy. It was the most powerful engine in the Cherokee/Wagoneer’s class, with 177 horsepower and 224 lb-ft of torque. The AMC four cylinder pushed out 121 horsepower and 141 pound-feet of torque – far more than the Chrysler 2.5 liter engine that was to appear in 1989, with 100 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque! Both used single-point electronic fuel injection.
Jeep Wagoneer was only available with four doors and an four-speed automatic — made by Borg-Warner — while Grand Wagoneer, also with four doors, used a three-speed automatic. The Grand Wagoneer continued its 1970s look and body, which the Wagoneer somewhat imitated with standard woodgrain sides (and a delete option). Grand Wagoneer came with standard Selec-Trak four wheel drive, and room for six passengers, 74.5 cubic feet of cargo space (with rear seat folded).
For 1989, the XJ Wagoneer got new colors and 15 x 7 five-spoke cast aluminum wheels (standard on Wagoneer Limited). New standard features were bright dual power mirrors, fog lamps, and tachometer, formerly options. A new four-wheel antilock brake system was optional with four wheel drive and Selec-Trac. The Grand Wagoneer had color changes (inside and out), new sun visors with covered, lighted mirrors, a new overhead console, keyless entry, an optional tailgate window wiper/washer system. A new power window system using cables was introduced as a running change. The overhead console included map lights, keyless entry receiver, storage compartment, and compass/temperature display.
For 1990, both models got a new overhead console, new colors, and rear three-point seat belts; the Grand Wagoneer also got a flash-to-pass feature on the stalk headlight control, and side-marker turn signal flashes. A four-speed Borg-Warner automatic with full-time four wheel drive was standard for all Wagoneers — the newly retagged Limited and the Grand Wagoneer. Air conditioning was standard as well.
At this point, the Wagoneers were established as luxury items. For Grand Wagoneer, buyer loyalty was 60%; 58% of buyers were college-educated, and buyers had a median income of $98,200 (that’s around $160,000 in 2009 dollars). For Wagoneer Limited, the median income was the highest of any domestic model — $106,500 (over $173,000 for 2009).
|Jeep Wagoneer Specs||1962-65
|Front Axle Capacity||2,500||3500 / 3215||3200|
|Rear Axle Capacity||3,000||3540 / 3215||3200|
|Rear Axle Ratio||4.09:1||3.07 – 4.09||2.73:1||3.55:1|
|Clutch Area (in)||100.5||106.75||none||none|
|Turning Radius (4×4)||44.6||44.4||38.4||37.7||37.7||35.7|
|Curb Weight (RWD)||3615 (4 door)||4,475||none||none|
|Curb Weight (4×4)||3758 (4 door)||4,499||3,453|
|Max gross vehicle weight||4200 (RWD)
|Cargo capacity||91 cu. ft.||95.1||74.5||71.8|
|Leg room (F/R)||45.0 / 36.0||41.6/37.0||40.5 / 37.0||41.0 / 35.3|
|Head room (F/R)||39.5 / 36.0||38.0 / 37.2||37.1 / 36.8||38.3 / 38.0|
The High-Output (H.O.) 4.0 engine appeared in 1991 with a revised control system and head design. The intake ports on the head were raised 1/8″ to give a straighter shot into the cylinders. Along with computer program revisions this added 13 hp to the engine, thus creating the 190 hp H.O. version that was used through 2002. A power sunroof was also added to Grand Cherokee for 1991.
There were no Wagoneers in 1992.