Jeep Cherokee (XJ)

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See also Jeep Cherokee for other models using this name
Jeep Cherokee (XJ)
1984-1996 Jeep Cherokee 2-door
ManufacturerAmerican Motors (AMC)
Chrysler Corporation
Production1984–2001 (USA)
1984–2005 (China)
AssemblyToledo, Ohio, United States
Beijing, China
SuccessorJeep Liberty
ClassCompact SUV
Body style(s)2-door SUV
4-door SUV
LayoutFront-engine, rear-wheel drive / Four-wheel drive
Engine(s)2.5 L (150 CID) AMC 150 I4
2.8 L GM 60° LR2 V6
2.1 L Renault diesel I4
4.0 L (242 CID) AMC 242 I6
4.0 L (242 CID) AMC 242 H.O. I6

4.0 L (242 CID) 242 Power Tech I6
2.5 L VM Motori diesel I4
Transmission(s)4-speed Aisin AX-4 manual
4-speed Borg-Warner T-4 manual
5-speed Aisin AX-5 manual
5-speed Aisin AX-15 manual
5-speed Borg-Warner T-5 manual
5-speed NVG NV3550 manual
5-speed Peugeot BA-10/5 manual
3-speed Chrysler A904 automatic
3-speed 30RH automatic
4-speed Aisin AW-4 automatic
Wheelbase101.4 in (2576 mm)
Length1987-1990: 165.3 in (4199 mm)
1991-93: 168.8 in (4288 mm)
1994-96: 166.9 in (4239 mm)
1997-2001: 167.5 in (4255 mm)
Width1987-1993: 70.5 in (1791 mm)
1994-96: 67.7 in (1720 mm)
1997-99: 67.9 in (1725 mm)
2000-01: 69.4 in (1763 mm)
Height1987-88 2WD: 63.4 in (1610 mm)
1987-1993: 63.3 in (1608 mm)
1994-99 2WD: 63.9 in (1623 mm)
1994-2001 4WD: 64.0 in (1626 mm)
2000-01 2WD: 63.8 in (1621 mm)
Curb weight3,057 lb (1,387 kg) (approx.)
ManualsService Manual
1984-1990 Jeep Wagoneer (XJ platform)
1993-1996 Jeep Cherokee XJ (Right hand drive)
1997-2001 Cherokee Sport 4-door

The Jeep Cherokee (XJ) was a monocoque (unibody) compact SUV. It shared the name of the original full-size SJ model, but having no true pickup truck heritage, it actually set the stage for the modern SUV. Its innovative appearance and sales popularity spawned important imitators as other automakers began to notice that this model began replacing regular cars.[1] It was built in Toledo, Ohio in the United States and in Beijing, China. The XJ platform provided the mechanical basis for the MJ-series Jeep Comanche pick-up.

The XJ was selected by Robert Cumberford of Automobile Magazine as one of the 20 greatest cars of all time, calling it "possibly the best SUV shape of all time, it is the paradigmatic model to which other designers have since aspired."[2]


The XJ Cherokee was introduced in 1984 as the first unibody Jeep. Designs of the XJ Cherokee date back to 1978 when a team of American Motors (AMC) and Renault engineers drew several sketches. A few clay models were based on the existing SJ Cherokee. Early sketches of the XJ Cherokee had an European influence, and most of the styling cues were done by AMC engineers. The ongoing debate suggests that Renault sketch artists were involved right after the 1979 partnership with AMC.[citation needed] Noticing that General Motors was developing a new two-door S-10 based Blazer, AMC decided to design an entirely new four-door model, but worried about rollovers Gerald C. Meyers hired one of Ford's best engineers, Roy Lunn to design what is known as the Quadra-Link suspension.[3] François Castaing developed the drivetrain using a much smaller engine than normally found in 4WD vehicles and reduced the weight of the new model,[4]

Both two- and four-door versions of the XJ Cherokee were offered throughout its lifetime, each having exactly the same track and wheelbase measurements. Two-door models, however, received longer doors and front seats that could fold forward to assist in rear passenger entry and exit. This was in addition to extended-length rear windows that did not open, although an optional rear vent window was available on some models. Its appearance has led some to mistakenly believe that the two-door models are a short wheelbase version of the four-door.

A variation on the Cherokee from 1984 through 1990 was the Jeep Wagoneer. It was sold in two trim levels: the Wagoneer and the Wagoneer Limited. Both Wagoneers were distinguished from the Cherokee by the four headlights. The Wagoneer Limited came with vinyl wood trim on the sides.

This version was the first to be sold in Europe; it was launched in 1992 in some markets, 1993 for the United Kingdom. Early versions had the 4.0 L (242 CID) six-cylinder engine only: the 2.5 L (150 CID) engine did not arrive in Europe until 1995.

American Motors's compact XJ Cherokee was to be replaced by a new and larger model known as the XJC (later named the Jeep Grand Cherokee when introduced in 1993) that was under development by AMC.[5] However, the smaller model's continuing popularity caused Chrysler executives, as the new owners of AMC, to rethink this decision. The Jeep XJ has remained a popular choice by off-roading enthusiasts due to its potent off-roading capability in stock form. Its popularity has resulted in strong ongoing aftermarket support in the form of a wide variety of products and upgrade availability.


  • 1984-1996 2.5 L AMC 150 I4, 105 hp (78 kW) – 130 hp (97 kW)
  • 1984-1986 2.8 L GM 60° LR2 V6, 110 hp (82 kW)
  • 1985-1987 2.1 L Renault turbodiesel I4 (initially sold in U.S. and until 1993 in Europe)
  • 1987-1990 4.0 L AMC 242 I6, 173−177 hp (41 kW) with Renix fuel injection system
  • 1991-1996 4.0 L AMC 242 "High Output" I6, 190 hp (142 kW) with Chrysler fuel injection system
  • 1994-1996 2.5 L VM Motori turbodiesel I4 (sold in Europe and South America)


After 13 years of production, 1997 saw the Cherokee receive updated exterior and interior styling. Both the two- and four-door bodies remained in production, receiving a steel tailgate (replacing the fiberglass one used previously),a new taillight design, additional plastic molding along the doors, as well as a new front header panel that featured more aerodynamic styling; the interior was similarly updated with an all-new design and instruments, and a stiffer unibody frame brought improvements to Noise, Vibration, and Harshness measurements. In the middle of the 1999 model year, vehicles with the 4.0 liter engine received a much improved intake manifold. This was done to help counteract smaller exhaust porting on the latest casting of cylinder heads, which was done to meet more stringent emissions control laws. Both the 4- and 6-cylinder engines were offered through the 2000 model year, though only the straight-six was available in 2001. For the 2000 and 2001 model years, all six-cylinder XJs received a distributorless ignition system using coil-on-plug ignition replacing the 'traditional' system previously used; coupled with better exhaust porting and the newer intake manifolds, this gave a minor increase in power over the previous models. Transmission, axle, and transfer case choices were carried over from the previous models.

However, major changes were underway with a new executive, Wolfgang Bernhard, who was "known as a cost-slasher" nicknamed "whirlwind", came from Mercedes-Benz to turn around Chrysler.[6][7] "One of the first moves Bernhard made when he came to Chrysler in 2000 was to help kill the Jeep Cherokee, an aging somewhat bland SUV."[8] Thus, the (XJ) Cherokee line was replaced in 2002 by the Jeep Liberty (KJ) , although it is called the "Cherokee" in most foreign markets.

When (XJ) Cherokee production ended in mid 2001, the portion of the Toledo South Assembly Plant devoted to its production was slowly torn down.


  • 1997-2000 2.5 L AMC 150 I4, 130 hp (97 kW)
  • 1997-2001 2.5 L VM Motori turbodiesel I4 (sold in Europe, Australia and South America)
  • 1997-1999 4.0 L 242 Power Tech I6, 190 hp (142 kW)
  • 2000-2001 4.0 L 242 Power Tech I6, 193 hp (144 kW)

Trim levels

  • Base - 1984-1993
  • SE - 1994-2000
  • Wagoneer - 1984-1990
  • Briarwood - 1991-1992
  • Pioneer - 1984-1990
  • Pioneer Olympic Edition - 1988
  • Chief - 1984-1990
  • Sport - 1988-2001
  • Country - 1993-1997
  • Classic - 1996, 1998-2001
  • Limited - 1987-1992, 1998-2001
  • Laredo - 1985-1992
  • Freedom - 2000
  • 60th Anniversary - 2001

Available driveline components

Manual transmissions

  • 1984 – 1987 : Aisin-Warner AX4 4-speed manual, used with 2.5 L I4 only.
  • 1984-only : Borg-Warner T-4 4-speed manual, used with 2.5 L I4 only.
  • 1984-only : Borg-Warner T-5 5-speed manual, used with 2.5 L I4 and 2.8 L V6.
  • 1987 – Mid-1989 : Peugeot BA-10/5 5-speed manual used with 4.0 L I6.
  • 1984 – 2000 : Aisin-Warner AX5 5-speed manual, used with 2.5 L I4, 2.1 L I4 diesel, and 2.8 L V6.
  • Late-1989 – 1999 : Aisin-Warner AX15 5-speed manual, used with 4.0 L I6.
  • 2000 – 2001 : New Venture Gear NV3550 5-speed manual, used with 4.0 L I6.

Automatic transmissions

  • 1984 – 1986 : Chrysler A904 3-speed automatic, used with 2.5 L I4 and 2.8 L V6.
  • 1994 – 2000 : Chrysler 30RH 3-speed automatic, used with 2.5 L I4.
  • 1987 – 2001 : Aisin-Warner AW-4 4-speed automatic used with 2.5 L I4 and 4.0 L I6.

Transfer cases

All the transfer cases used on the Cherokee were chain driven with aluminum housings. Command-Trac was standard on XJ models built with 4WD.

  • 1984 – 1987 : New Process NP207 "Command-Trac", part-time only, 2.61:1 ratio with low range
  • 1987 – 2001 : New Process NP231 "Command-Trac", part-time only, 2.72:1 ratio with low range
  • 1987 – 2001 : New Process NP242 "Selec-Trac", full-time/part-time, 2.72:1 ratio with low range


The Jeep XJ utilizes front and rear solid (live) axles as opposed to independent front and/or rear axles. This configuration allows the XJ to have superior off-road capability and performance at the expense of some on-road comfort and drivability.

Front Axle

  • 1984 – 1996 : Dana 30, High Pinion, Reverse Cut, 27-spline axleshafts (1989 – 1995 : with ABS used 5-297x universal joints, non-ABS had 5-260x universal joints. Note: Certain XJ models were produced with constant-velocity joints instead of universal joints.)
  • 1996 – 1999 : Dana 30, High Pinion, Reverse Cut, 297x/760 universal Joint, 27-spline axleshafts.
  • 2000 – 2001 : Dana 30, Low Pinion, Standard Cut, 297x/760 universal Joint, 27-spline axleshafts.

Rear Axle

  • 1984 – 1989 : Dana 35, non c-clip, with anti-lock braking system (ABS) or non-ABS.
  • 1990 – 1996 : Dana 35, c-clip, ABS or non-ABS.
  • 1997 – 2001 : Dana 35, c-clip, ABS.
  • 1991 – 1996 : Chrysler 8.25", c-clip, non-ABS, 27-spline axleshafts.
  • 1997 – 2001 : Chrysler 8.25", c-clip, non-ABS, 29-spline axleshafts.
  • 1987 – 1990 : Dana 44, non-abs, 30-spline axleshafts.

Axle Gear Ratios

Jeep XJs came in several standard gearing ratios:

  • 3.07:1, manual transmission, I6 engine.
  • 3.54:1, automatic transmission, I6 engine with Dana 44 rear differential.
  • 3.54:1, manual transmission, I4 diesel engine with Dana 35 rear differential.
  • 3.55:1, automatic transmission, I6, V6 engines; manual transmission, I4 engine.
  • 3.73:1, automatic transmission, I6, Tow Package, UpCountry Package.
  • 4.10:1, manual transmission, V6 automatic transmission, I4 engine.
  • 4.56:1, automatic transmission, I4, offroad or tow package.

Note: Dana 44 rear ends came with manual transmissions with the towing packages in 1987.


The Jeep XJ utilizes a coil spring front suspension with a leaf spring rear suspension.

Front Suspension

The Jeep XJ utilizes the Quadra-Link front suspension. This suspension design locates the axle with four control arms to control up and down movement, two above the axle and two below it. A panhard rod, also referred to as a track bar, is used to locate the axle central to the vehicle. Two coil springs are seated on top of the axle housing as well as two gas-charged shock absorbers. A sway bar is utilized to reduce body roll in turns.

Rear Suspension

The XJ uses a leaf spring rear suspension. Each leaf pack contains four leaf springs with a fixed eye at the front of the spring and a shackle at the rear of the spring. Two gas-charged shock absorbers are also used, along with a mild anti-sway/anti-roll bar. The suspension used on vehicles with the optional UpCountry Package did not employ the rear anti-sway/anti-roll bar and provided one inch of lift over the standard suspension.

XJ in Europe

European version Cherokee XJ

A van version of the XJ was offered in addition to the standard vehicles in some European markets. Available in both right- and left-hand-drive models, they were designed to comply with relaxed motor tax regulations in some EU member states governing vehicles intended for primarily commercial use. Both two- and four-door versions are known to have been sold, with the main differences from the standard models being metal panels in place of the rear side windows, no rear seats, and a completely flat cargo area. Two- and four-wheel-drive variants were available, powered by the VM Motori 2.5-litre diesel engine mated to the Aisin AX-5 manual transmission. Photographs of this model can be found here.

The XJ was sold in Europe from 1985 until 2001 (1993-2001 for some markets).

XJ in China

China Model 2500 Jeep Cherokee (XJ platform)

American Motors established the first automobile manufacturing joint venture in the People's Republic of China to assemble the four-door Cherokee[9]. Production continued after Chrysler's buyout of AMC. Chrysler executives were concerned over licit and illicit technology transfers when knock-offs of the Cherokee began appearing in the Chinese market.[10] Production under Mercedes-Benz continued in the partnership that was renamed Beijing-Benz DaimlerChrysler Automotive. The most recent model with an updated grille, headlights, and other upgrades is known as the "Jeep 2500" that was produced through 2006.[11] It is notable that AMC's original Cherokee design continued to sell virtually unchanged after over twenty years.


  1. Bradsher, Keith. High and Mighty: SUVs - the World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way. PublicAffairs, 2002, ISBN 978-1586481230. Page 41.
  2. Robert Cumberford, "20 greatest cars" Automobile Magazine "Great designs never grow old, a truth no better confirmed than by designer Dick Teague's masterpiece, the Jeep Cherokee. Possibly the best SUV shape of all time, it is the paradigmatic model to which other designers have since aspired." Retrieved on: March 12 2008.
  3. Bradsher, Keith. High and Mighty: SUVs - the World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way. PublicAffairs, 2002, ISBN 978-1586481230. Page 36.
  4. Bradsher, Keith. High and Mighty: SUVs - the World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way. PublicAffairs, 2002, ISBN 978-1586481230. Page 37.
  5. Rothenberg, Al (March 1, 1998), "Design Debate - Who's the father of the Jeep Grand Cherokee?", Ward's AutoWorld,, retrieved on 2008-05-18 .
  6. Ostle, Dorothee. "New COO is known as a problem solver" Automotive News, November 27, 2000.
  7. Krebs, Michelle. "New Chrysler: Wolfgang Bernhard Reportedly to Return" Edmunds Auto Obserbver, July 30, 2007, retrieved on August 9, 2008.
  8. Kiley, David. "Chrysler's New Owner Has Serious Marketing Work To Do" Business Week magazine, May 23, 2008, retrieved on August 9, 2008.
  9. Mann, Jim. (1997). Beijing Jeep: A Case Study of Western Business in China. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3327-X.
  10. Smith, Charles R. China's Economic War - Stealing Jobs and Technology From America" Newsmax, September 14, 2004 retrieved on March 28 2008.
  11. Dunne, Timothy. "Can Chrysler Rebound in China?" Business Week, November 2, 2007. Retrieved on January 22 2008.

External links