1984 – 2001 Cherokee (XJ)

1984 – 2001 Cherokee (XJ)

History of the Jeep Cherokee XJ

The Jeep Cherokee was manufactured from the year 1984 up until 2001 and is arguably the most famous Jeep of all time. It is said this vehicle was named so to stand for ‘eXciting Jeep.’ During its production span of 18 years, almost a total of three million Cherokee XJs were manufactured. To be exact, they were 2,884,172 vehicles in all. This car was so good that almost every vehicle got purchased in the very same year it was made not like other car brands that kept advertising and selling vehicles a year or more after production and still called them new. Design and building of the Cherokee XJ were handled by AMC (American Motors) from 1984 until 1987 when the company was bought over. Chrysler, the new owners, proceeded with the same design for the vehicle until the end of production.

The Cherokee XJ was the introduction of a new era as the conventional body on frame substructure was not adopted in its design. The vehicle featured unibody design which was also lightweight. From the onset, Cherokee XJ vehicles were promoted as ‘sports wagons,’ but in the future, this grew to become the forerunner of the present-day sports utility vehicle or SUV. This design started to replace normal cars fast and competitors were not far behind on copying the chassis. The development of 4x4s will always have the Cherokee XJ as an important benchmark.

The year

  • 1984-1996: the very first design of Jeep with a ladder-boxed framework unified into one monocoque component instead of the conventional detached construction of body on the frame was the 1984 Cherokee XJ. This strong and firm design had about 3,200 bonds on a finished body and still was astonishingly lightweight. The unibody design allowed for excellent performance even with the four-cylinder engine. Through the 18 years of Cherokee XJs production, two-door and four-door options were available with precisely identical wheelbase and track measurements. Seats for the two-door option had longer, foldable chairs so passengers could enter the back easily.

In the middle of 1985, the Cherokee XJ received a two-wheel-drive option for the first time in Jeeps history since 1967. This option was made available for those who did not want or require four-wheel-drive.

  • 1997-2001: the Cherokee XJ received an upgrade to its interior and exterior styling. Two-door and four-door options in production received extra plastic framework along the doors, a steel liftgate instead of the previous fiberglass one, redesigned taillights and a brand new front header panel with added aerodynamics design. The spare tire was now located inside instead of the previous outside mount.

The 1999 Cherokee XJ models with 4.0L engines had their intake manifold revised to prevent little exhaust porting on the updated cylinder head castings. The 2000 model offered four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines, but the 2001 model saw only a six-cylinder engine with a no distribution ignition system.

The difference

Apart from a few changes on the interior and exterior through the years, the Cherokee XJ was pretty much the same. There were differences in the type of engine offered on each model each year.

  • 1984-1985: the AMC 150 single barrel-carburetor engine with 2.5L and 105hp running on gasoline
  • 1984-1986: the Chevrolet LR2 2.8L V6 engine with 115hp running on gasoline.
  • 1986: the AMC 150 Renix TBI engine with 2.5l and 117hp running on gasoline.
  • 1987: the AMC 242 Renix MPI engine with 4.0L and 173hp running on gasoline.
  • 1987-1990: the AMC 150 Renix TBI engine with 2.5L and 121hp running on gasoline.
  • 1988-1990: the AMC 242 Renix MPI engine with 4.0L and 177hp running on gasoline.
  • 1991-1996: the AMC 150 Chrysler MPI engine with 4.0L and 130hp running on gasoline.
  • 1991-1999: the AMC 242 Chrysler MPI high output engine with 4.0L and 190hp running on gasoline.
  • 1997-2000: the AMC 150 Chrysler MPI engine with 2.5L and 125hp running on gasoline.
  • 1997-2001: the TurboDiesel VM Motori 424 OHV engine with 114hp running on diesel.
  • 1991-2001: the AMC 242 Chrysler MPI high output engine with 4.0L and 190hp running on gasoline.
  • 1994-2001: the 2.5L TurboDiesel VM 424 engine with 114hp running on diesel.
  • 2000-2001: the AMC 242 Chrysler MPI high output engine with 4.0L and 193hp running on gasoline.

What happened

Designs for the Cherokee XJ started back in 1978 with the models based on the SJ model. The model was mostly European with styling and engineering done by American Motors. Because of General Motors similar two-door option, American Motors added the four-door alternative. This was the first civilian 4×4 with unibody design which increased its off-road abilities and durability.

What changed

Throughput the 18year production period for Cherokee XJ, different trim levels were offered.

  • 1984-1993; Base: had two speakers with an AM radio, cloth or vinyl upholstery and full-faced steel wheels.
  • 1994-2001; SE: replaced Base in from 1994. Had two speakers with an AM radio, cloth or vinyl upholstery and full-faced steel wheels.
  • 1984-1990; Wagoneer: had faux wood laminate exterior and maple wood laminate interior decorations, cassette player, FM/AM radio and four speakers, AC, double power seats, leather trim and ribbed cloth upholstery and alloy wheels. The 1990 model also had an overhead console and keyless entry.
  • 1991-1992; Briarwood: had lace spoke wheels, faux wood laminate exterior and maple wood laminate interior decorations, cassette, FM/AM radio and six speakers, remote keyless entry, vinyl and leather upholstery, AC, overhead console and double power seats.
  • 1984-1990; Pioneer: steel wheels, plaid cloth upholstery and two speakers with AM radio.
  • 1988; Pioneer Olympic Edition: AM/FM radio with two speakers, cloth upholstery, and AC.
  • 1984-1990; Chief: AM/FM radio with two speakers and plaid cloth upholstery.
  • 1988-2001; Sport: four speakers with AM/FM, AC, full-faced steel or alloy wheels and vinyl and cloth upholstery.
  • 1993-1997; Country: flat black chrome accents, false interior mahogany wood accents, AC, optional double power seats, vinyl and cloth upholstery with an option for leather, cassette player, four Speakers, AM/FM radio and lace spoke wheels.
  • 1996, 1998-2001; Classic: had keyless entry, one paint color, AC, an overhead console, alloy wheels, cassette, AM/FM radio with four speakers and cloth upholstery.
  • 1987-1992, 1998-2001; Limited: sunroof, keyless entry, vinyl and leather upholstery, single paint color, cassette, FM/AM radio with six speakers, an overhead console, AC and double power seats.
  • 1985-1992; Laredo: spoke alloy wheels, AC, different options for upholstery and other equipment.
  • 2000; Freedom: remote keyless entry, special badging, alloy wheels and cassette with AM/FM radio.
  • 2001; 60th Anniversary: special floor mats and badges, AC, remote keyless entry, single paint color, alloy wheels and cassette with AM/FM radio.
  • 1999-2000; Orvis: only available in the UK and limited edition.