The Jeep Cherokee (XJ) was a Monocoque (unibody) Compact SUV. It shared the name of the original full-size Jeep 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. It was built in Toledo, Ohio in the United States and in Beijing, People's Republic of China. The XJ platform provided the mechanical basis for the Jeep-series Jeep pick-up.

The XJ was selected by Robert Cumerford 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."


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. 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. François Castaing developed the drivetrain using a much smaller engine than normally found in 4WD vehicles and reduced the weight of the new model,

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. It was sold in two trim levels: the Jeep 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 when introduced in 1993) that was under development by AMC. 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, –
  • 1984-1986 2.8 L GM 60° LR2 V6,
  • 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, with Renix fuel injection system
  • 1991-1996 4.0 L AMC 242 "High Output" I6, 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) and a new taillight design; the interior was similarly updated with an all-new design and instruments, and a stiffer bodyshell brought improvements to Noise, Vibration, and Harshness measurements. 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 and intake porting, this gave a minor increase in power over the previous models. Transmission, axle, and transfer case choices were carried over from the previous models. The (XJ) Cherokee line was eventually replaced in 2002 by the Jeep (KJ), although the Liberty 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 Cherokee production was slowly torn down.


  • 1997-2000 2.5 L AMC 150 I4,
  • 1997-2001 2.5 L VM Motori turboDiesel I4 (sold in Europe and South America)
  • 1997-1999 4.0 L AMC 242 I6,
  • 2000-2001 4.0 L AMC 242 I6,

Trim levelsEdit

  • 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 componentsEdit

Manual transmissionsEdit

  • 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 transmissionsEdit

  • 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 casesEdit

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 AxleEdit

  • 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 AxleEdit

  • 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.
  • 1996 – 2001 : Chrysler 8.25", c-clip, non-ABS, 29-spline axleshafts.
  • 1987 – 1990 : Dana 44, non-abs, 30-spline axleshafts.

Axle Gear RatiosEdit

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, I4 engine.
  • 3.73:1, automatic transmission, I6, Tow Package, UpCountry Package.
  • 4.10:1, manual transmission, V6 automatic, 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 SuspensionEdit

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 SuspensionEdit

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 stock UpCountry Package did not employ the rear anti-sway/anti-roll bar and provided one inch of lift over the standard suspension.

XJ in EuropeEdit

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.

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

XJ in ChinaEdit

American Motors established the first automobile manufacturing Joint venture in the People's Republic of China to assemble the four-door Cherokee. 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. Production under Mercedes-Benz continued in the partnership that was renamed Beijing. The most recent model with an updated grille, headlights, and other upgrades is known as the "Jeep 2500" that was produced through 2006. It is notable that AMC's original Cherokee design continued to sell virtually unchanged after over twenty years.

External linksEdit

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