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The Cherokee Begins

It was 1974 and the American Motor Company (AMC) was thinking of new ways to reach more consumers. At the time, they lacked appeal to younger generations, and so the Jeep Cherokee SJ was born in hopes to fix that. It was modeled after the Wagoneer, and came as a two-door, rear-wheel-drive, full-size SUV with a sport-like styling down the side. It excelled off the road with a 6.6-liter V8 capable of 215 horsepower. It was a hit, and its success kept it alive until 1983 when it was restructured for the 1984 model year. Known today as the beloved XJ, AMC was convinced that the compact SUV would be the new trend, and redesigned the Cherokee into another smash hit.

The Cherokee's Rise, Fall, and Return

After 1977, when the SJ had been offered with four-doors, the '84 XJ became the first four-door SUV built on a unibody design. Although the XJ was reduced in weight and size compared to the SJ, it offered more with choices between two-wheel drive or two different four-wheel drive train systems, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with 105 horsepower or a 2.8-liter V6 with 115 horsepower, and base, Pioneer, or Chief trims. It was better at handling on and off the road, and was loved for its inexpensive simplicity, reliability, and impressive longevity. The Laredo trim was added in the following year, and a 4.0-liter inline-six engine with 177 horsepower was included for '87. The Cherokee continued to improve in the ‘90s by including optional leather seats on the Limited trim, air bags, five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, and a climate control system. In 2001, the Cherokee's reign came to an end when it was sadly discontinued.

For 2014, the Cherokee was resurrected to replace the Liberty. The mid-size SUV was named the KL and features an all new aerodynamic design while retaining the classic seven-slot grille. Trim levels include Sport, Latitude, Limited, and the off-roader's choice called the Trailhawk. It offers a 2.3L inline-four with 184 horsepower or a 3.2L V6 with 239 horsepower, and is the first Chrysler to sport a nine-speed automatic transmission. Optional features include leather and heated seats, A/C temperature control, cargo net, heated steering wheel, humidity sensor, and more. The newer Cherokees are very capable off-road vehicles and are able to traverse several types of terrain, which makes them somewhat similar to the original models.  Although they're vastly different from the early models, it's nice to have a Cherokee back in Jeep's lineup.                

Jeep is a registered trademark of FCA US LLC. 1A Auto is not affiliated with or sponsored by Jeep or FCA US LLC. See all trademarks.

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