The Jeep® Cherokee raced onto the four-wheel scene in 1974 and never slowed down. Designed to appeal to a new generation of Jeep® owners, the Cherokee immediately cemented itself as an instant classic in the iconic Jeep® line-up.
Let the Adventure Begin
The Cherokee was introduced as a sportier version of the Wagoneer, and it quickly piqued the interests of younger, more adventurous drivers. That’s because its racy detailing was matched by a high-performing 401 cu (in 6.6L) AMC V-8 engine. Featuring a sports steering wheel and two-door design, the Cherokee was the first vehicle to win Four Wheeler magazine’s Achievement Award in 1974. Today this award is known as the Four Wheeler of the Year Award.
A New Classic
But by 1984 the Cherokee was ready to drive a new generation, and the Cherokee XJ model was released. The XJ was a revolutionary compact SUV – not only was it 1,000 pounds lighter, but the model was 21 inches shorter, six inches narrower and four inches lower than other full-size Jeep® models. All of this made the XJ an instant hit. Upon its release, the vehicle shattered industry records, winning the title of “4×4 of the Year” from three separate off-road publications.
During production of the XJ, the Jeep® Grand Cherokee literally crashed onto the four-wheel scene. Introduced at the 1992 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the model made its debut as only a rugged, trail-blazing Jeep® can do – by busting through the convention show glass!
The Grand Cherokee was the ideal mid-size luxury SUV, featuring a 105.9-inch wheelbase and a new Quadra-Coil suspension. It was also the first SUV equipped with a driver’s side air bag, setting the standard for on-road SUV safety. Like its predecessor, the Grand Cherokee immediately started collecting awards, winning coveted industry accolades such as Motor Trend magazine’s Truck of the Year award.
As the Grand Cherokee continued to blaze new trails, the original Cherokee had a successful run through 2001, selling 2.1 million units. That year it was phased out and replaced with the Jeep® Liberty, which showcased classic Jeep® features such as the popular round headlamps and seven-slot grille. The Liberty also introduced an improvement in SUV engineering, boasting an impressive independent front suspension and a new 3.7L V6 engine.
A New Era
But the Cherokee refused to stay dormant very long, and in 2014, the Jeep® brand introduced an all-new Cherokee that showcased a progressive and aerodynamic design. With an efficient shape and signature Jeep® details, the Cherokee helped guide Jeep® into a new era of design. Redefining the midsize segment, it was the first mid-size SUV to offer a standard nine-speed automatic transmission.
As new generations race off into the sunset, the Cherokee will be there to help them continue to navigate rugged trails and traverse new streams. It’s safe to say that the heavy duty, time-tested Cherokee is here to stay.