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The Jeep Cherokee is a line of American vehicles sold by Jeep under various vehicle classes. Originally sold as a variant of the popular Jeep Wagoneer, the Cherokee has evolved from a full-size SUV to one of the first compact SUVs and eventually into its current incarnation as a crossover SUV. The nameplate has been in continuous use in some form since 1974 and also spawned Jeep's most successful vehicle, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was originally slated to be part of the Cherokee's lineup. The vehicle is named after the Cherokee tribe of North American Indians.

Jeep Cherokee
2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude front 5.27.18.jpg
Fifth generation (KL)
ManufacturerAmerican Motors (1974-1987)
Chrysler Corporation (1988-1998)
DaimlerChrysler (1999-2001)
Chrysler Group LLC (2013-2014)
FCA US LLC (2015-present)
Model years1974-present
Body and chassis
ClassFull-size SUV (1974–1983)
Compact SUV (1984-2012)
Compact crossover SUV (2013-present)
LayoutFront engine, rear-wheel drive (1974–2013)
Front-engine, front-wheel drive (2013–present)
Front-engine, four-wheel drive (1974–present)


First generation (SJ)Edit

1974 Jeep Cherokee S (US)

The Cherokee was a rebadged reintroduction of a two-door body style Jeep Wagoneer, with a redesigned greenhouse that eliminated the car's C-pillar. Instead the Cherokee sported a much wider D-pillar and a single, long fixed rear side window with an optional flip-out section. Previously, a two-door version had been available in the Jeep Wagoneer line (from 1963 to 1967), although this had the same pillar and window configuration as the four-door Wagoneer. The Cherokee replaced the Jeepster Commando, whose sales had not met expectations despite an extensive 1972 revamp. The Cherokee appealed to a younger market than the Wagoneer, which was regarded more as a family SUV.

The Cherokee was marketed as the "sporty" two-door variant of Jeep's station wagon. The term "sport(s) utility vehicle" appears for the first time in the 1974 Cherokee sales brochure.[1][2][3] A four-door was not added to the lineup until 1977. Other than the base model, the trim levels of the Cherokee included the S (Sport), Chief, Golden Eagle, Golden Hawk, Limited, Classic, Sport, Pioneer, and Laredo.

Second generation (XJ)Edit

1984– 2001 Jeep Cherokee 2-door

While the Wagoneer continued in production for another eight years as the Grand Wagoneer, the Cherokee nameplate was moved to a new platform for 1984. Without a traditional body-on-frame chassis, the Cherokee instead featured a light-weight unibody design.[4]

This generation Cherokee would eventually be well-known as an innovator of the modern SUV, as it spawned competitors as other automakers began to notice that this Jeep design began replacing regular cars.[5] It also began to supplant the role of the station wagon and "transformed from truck to limousine in the eyes of countless suburban owners."[6] The XJ is a "significant link in the evolution of the 4x4."[7]

It would prove to be so popular that the second generation Cherokee's replacement was released as a separate vehicle altogether as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, itself starting a successive line of vehicles as Jeep's flagship vehicle.

Third generation (KJ)Edit

2003 Jeep Cherokee Limited Edition wagon (Australia)

The third generation, marketed as the Jeep Liberty in North America to differentiate it from the Grand Cherokee, was introduced in April 2001 for the 2002 model year.

The Cherokee was priced between the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee. It remained the smallest of the 4-door Jeep SUVs up until the crossover-based 4-door Compass and Patriot arrived for 2007. The Cherokee featured unibody-construction. It was assembled at the Toledo North Assembly Plant in the United States, as well as in other countries including Egypt and Venezuela.

It was the first Jeep vehicle to use rack and pinion steering.[8] It was also the first Jeep to use the two then-new PowerTech engines; the 150 horsepower (110 kW) 2.4 L straight-4, which was discontinued in 2006, and the 210 horsepower (160 kW) 3.7 L V6. However, the Cherokee was not the first Jeep vehicle to use an independent front suspension, as the Wagoneer first used it in the 1963 model. But, that independent front suspension was limited to four wheel drive versions and, even then, was a short lived option.[9]

Fourth generation (KK)Edit

Jeep Cherokee Liberty (US)

Still using the Jeep Liberty name in North America, the Cherokee was redesigned in 2008. For the first time, a rebadged version of a Jeep model existed, as Dodge sold this version of the Cherokee as the Dodge Nitro during the same time period as the fourth-generation Cherokee. It was eventually discontinued both due to slow sales as well as Sergio Marchionne wanting to avoid duplicated vehicles with Dodge and Jeep (as well as Chrysler) sharing the same sales network.

With the smaller Patriot and Compass now available to cater to MPG-conscious buyers, the four-cylinder engine was dropped from the Cherokee's offerings. The iron-block, aluminium-head V6 was the only engine available for 2008. Towing capacity was 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg). Jeep discontinued the Cherokee's CRD for the American market because it couldn't meet tougher 2007 emissions standards for diesel engines. Transmission choices were both carry-overs: a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Standard equipment included electronic stability control with roll mitigation, traction control, and anti-lock brakes with brake assist. New Features included standard side airbags. Optional features are rain-sensing wipers, Sirius Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, a navigation system, and the MyGig entertainment system, complete with a 30GB hard drive.

Fifth generation (KL)Edit

Jeep Cherokee Limited Multijet (United Kingdom)

For the fifth generation, the Cherokee nameplate returned to North America as the vehicle was converted to a crossover and grew to midsize in order to make room for the Jeep Renegade below the Cherokee and Compass. It was introduced for the 2014 model year at the 2013 New York International Auto Show and the sales started in November 2013.[10][11][11] The Cherokee is the first Jeep vehicle to be built on the Fiat Compact/Compact U.S. Wide platform, co-developed by Chrysler and Fiat.[12] The Jeep Cherokee is built at Belvidere Assembly Plant in Belvidere, Illinois.[13]

The Cherokee has a highway fuel economy rating of 31 miles per U.S. gallon (7.6 L/100 km; 37 mpg‑imp)[12] and a 45% better fuel economy rating than the Liberty/Cherokee it replaced.[11][13]

Despite its controversial front-end styling,[11][13] the fifth-generation Cherokee would become such a sales success that FCA discontinued the slow-selling Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 (both mechanically similar to the Cherokee) in order to increase production capacity for the Cherokee to meet demand. For 2019 the front end is to be updated to a more conservative style. In 2019, a new 2.0L turbo engine was added to the engine line up. It creates 270 HP and 295 LBS FT of torque. There is also an already existing 3.2L V-6, which is best for towing; and a 2.4L inline-4.


  1. ^ "1974 model year Jeep brochure picture – Cherokee page". US: Jeep. 1973. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  2. ^ "1974 model year Jeep Cherokee brochure – front". US: Jeep. 1973. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  3. ^ Allen, Jim (2003). Jeep: Collector's Library. Motorbooks, MBI Publishing. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-7603-1486-9. Retrieved September 2013. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ "Jeep Cherokee, the best of breed SUV: 1975-2001". Allpar. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  5. ^ Bradsher, Keith (2002). High and Mighty: SUVs — the World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way. PublicAffairs. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-58648-123-0.
  6. ^ Cumberford, Robert (April 2009). "20 greatest cars". Automobile Magazine. Retrieved 12 October 2015. 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.
  7. ^ Brubaker, Ken; Morr, Tom (2007). Jeep Off-Road. Motorbooks. p. 107. ISBN 978-0760329948. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  8. ^ "Jeep Liberty Steering". 2005-05-15. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
  9. ^ "Bruce Rice's 1963 IFS Wagoneer 4x4". 2007-12-24. Archived from the original on 2010-07-30. Retrieved 2010-12-17. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ "Chrysler lets 2014 Jeep Cherokee details fly ahead of New York auto show debut". Daily News (New York). Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  11. ^ a b c d "The All-New 2014 Jeep Cherokee". Jeep. Retrieved March 7, 2013.
  12. ^ a b Harley, Michael (27 March 2013). "2014 Jeep Cherokee flaunts its new contemporary curves". Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  13. ^ a b c "Jeep Revives Cherokee For 2014 With Polarizing New Design". Forbes. Retrieved February 27, 2013.