3 Interesting Facts About Jeep Cherokee XJ

  • Published on:  Tuesday, September 1, 2020
  • The First Unibody SUV

    When the 1984 Jeep Cherokee (or XJ as it was known internally) first hit the market, it didn’t just set itself apart from the larger, more primitive Jeep models that came before it — it also managed to distance itself from every one of its sport-utility vehicle peers. The biggest difference was the Cherokee’s unibody construction, which swapped the heavy and cumbersome body-on-frame platform used by every other truck in favor of the design increasingly employed by passenger cars. This imbued the small Jeep with far more nimble handling coupled with better fuel mileage than its peers thanks to its light (3,000 lbs or so) curb weight while preserving the rugged strength required to tackle off-road terrain

    The Last AMC Engine, Ever

    One of the most memorable aspects of the XJ Cherokee’s personality was its 4.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine. This was to be the final motor ever developed by AMC, the company that developed the compact Jeep before its assets were sold to Chrysler, and it would last from its inception for the 1987 model year all the way to the final 2001 edition of the Cherokee. Originally it offered 177 ponies, but a series of revisions would bring that figure up to just over 190 horsepower and a healthy 231 lb-ft of torque. Commonly matched with a four-speed automatic gearbox (although a five-speed manual was also available), later versions of the motor developed a well-earned reputation for being unkillable. Of course, things weren’t always rosy for the Jeep Cherokee in the engine compartment, especially during the first three years of production where AMC struggled to find a clear path forward for the small SUV. Out of the box, it came with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that struggled to generate 105 smog-choked horses in 1984, with another 10 horsepower available from a 2.8-liter V6 sourced from General Motors if buyers chose to ‘upgrade.’ There was even, at one point, a diesel four-banger shipped across the ocean by Renault to frustrate Cherokee owners hoping to actually merge with traffic, you know, today.

    Nearly 3 Million Built

    The Jeep Cherokee is viewed in some circles as an almost ‘disposable’ off-roader, simply because there are so many out there that if something bad happens to yours out on the trail, you can easily pull the parts you need off of it and snag a new one for very little money. Between 1984 and 2001, there were an astounding 2,884,172 examples sold around the world, making it one of the most popular SUVs of all time.

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