Overview & Reviews
When the original Jeep Cherokee debuted back in 1984, its compact dimensions, unibody (as opposed to heavier body-on-frame) architecture and go-anywhere capability made it an immediate success. But the SUV scene changed dramatically over the course of its nearly 20-year production run. By the early 2000s, car-based "crossovers" like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 had usurped the antiquated Cherokee's throne. With the arrival of the modernized Jeep Liberty for the 2002 model year, the Cherokee was put out to pasture, its time seemingly having come and gone.
The Liberty never really caught on with consumers, however, whereas the trusty Cherokee's reputation continued to resonate. Accordingly, Jeep resurrected the iconic Cherokee nameplate for the Liberty's successor. Today's Cherokee is a true crossover that shares its platform with the front-wheel-drive Dodge Dart sedan, departing from the rear-wheel-drive tradition established by the original Cherokee and upheld by the Liberty. Its aerodynamic shape, feature-rich interior and carlike driving dynamics speak soothingly to today's pavement-biased shoppers. But rest assured, it's still a Jeep -- so if you do want to hit up some trails, three available four-wheel-drive systems plus numerous off-road-ready options ensure you won't get left in the dust.
Current Jeep Cherokee
The current Cherokee is offered in Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk and Limited trim levels. The Sport is pretty spartan, but it provides convenience features like power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker touchscreen stereo with USB/Bluetooth connectivity. The better-equipped Latitude entices with its alloy wheels, foglights, LED interior lighting and options like dual sunroofs, nine-speaker audio and the excellent 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen interface. The Trailhawk focuses on heavy-duty hardware, including standard 4WD with the locking rear differential, flared fenders, wider wheels and tires, skid plates, tow hooks and an off-road suspension with a 1-inch lift. The fancy Limited lacks those rough-and-ready items but boasts bigger alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery and other luxury-oriented provisions. A panoramic sunroof replaces the dual sunroofs on the options list for both the Trailhawk and Limited.
In the engine room, the Cherokee is powered by either a 2.4-liter four-cylinder (184 horsepower) or a 3.2-liter V6 (271 hp). The transmission for both is a nine-speed automatic. Front-wheel-drive is standard, but Jeep offers three four-wheel-drive systems: an introductory setup with a single-speed power transfer unit (referred to by most automakers as "all-wheel drive"), a two-speed unit with low-range gearing, and an upgraded two-speed system with a locking rear differential that's exclusive to the Trailhawk.
In reviews, we've found the Cherokee's four-cylinder engine underwhelming in terms of both power and refinement, but the V6 is a nice upgrade considering its smooth, satisfying acceleration. We're pleasantly surprised that Jeep offers it, as V6s have largely disappeared from this segment in favor of more fuel-efficient fours. As noted, the Cherokee's V6 isn't much less efficient than the base four, so it's pretty much a win-win. We're not convinced that the transmission really needs all nine speeds, but it goes about its business unobtrusively for the most part.
From the driver seat, the Cherokee isn't as sporty as the Ford Escape or Mazda CX-5, but it handles well enough, and its cushy, quiet ride makes commuting a breeze. Off-roaders intrigued by the Cherokee's refinement will be pleased to learn that there's some real bushwhacking potential here, particularly in the "Trail Rated" Trailhawk, which also looks considerably meaner from the curb. What's not found in the Cherokee is an abundance of cargo space -- it brings up the rear among comparable crossovers -- but on the bright side, the sliding-and-reclining backseat is thoroughly adult-friendly.
Used Jeep Cherokee Models
The current, second-generation Jeep Cherokee debuted for the 2014 model year.
The first-generation Jeep Cherokee was unveiled for the 1984 model year as an austere, tough-as-nails SUV, with only its then-radical unibody construction separating it from true truck status. Two- and four-door versions were available. Built on a short wheelbase and tipping the scales at approximately 3,100 pounds, the Cherokee was nimble and responsive compared to the Chevy Blazers and Ford Broncos of its day. On the other hand, getting in and out could be tricky due to the high step-up and small doors, and the rear seat was quite cramped.
The original Cherokee evolved with mostly minor changes over the years, highlighted by the arrival of a fuel-injected four-cylinder engine for 1986 and the popular 4.0-liter inline-6 engine for 1987. A refreshed Cherokee was introduced for 1997 with slightly smoother exterior styling, some structural tweaks for improved refinement and a new dashboard (including dual airbags), but its utilitarian, no-nonsense character remained fully intact.
In our road test of a '97 Cherokee, we found the Jeep unequalled off-road, yet still respectable on the blacktop in terms of acceleration and handling. We liked the firm, sporty ride, although some may find it too stiff and trucklike. At this point, finding a clean and well-maintained first-generation Cherokee is going to be tricky, but modifying the vehicle for enhanced off-road use is very popular.
For more information on the original Jeep Cherokee, go to our Jeep Cherokee History page.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 744.00
2015 Jeep cherokee Sport - 2015 Jeep Cherokee
By Jerry - October 1 - 3:55 pm
1) SounD system Stopped working within 10k miles (it comes and go) 2) At 41k Transmission Failed (Dealer Said they have a week back log on transmission problems) meaning there are a good number with similar problems. 3) Suspension Rattles
DO NOT PURCHASE - 2015 Jeep Cherokee
By Rachel OBrien - August 28 - 10:20 pm
Bought 2015 Cherokee for my daughter to have a safe reliable vehicle when she left for college. That plan definitely did not work out as she has been stranded hours away from us twice now!!! The transmission is shot! This is absolutely unacceptable! Chrysler obviously knows there is a problem, yet they keep on selling them. This is going to cost someone their life if it has not already. The jeep stalls and jerks when in motion.
Great SUV - 1996 Jeep Cherokee
By dmb499 - December 24 - 10:00 am
I got this jeep recently and i love it. i got it in the winter and it snowed the next day so i loved it. didnt slip once while i was in 4wd. its my first 4wd vehicle and i will never get a non 4wd car again. this thing rocks!
BEST Jeep SUV Ever Built! - 2001 Jeep Cherokee
By Central Jersey - December 21 - 12:43 pm
I have always wanted this model Jeep. The Liberty is just plain UGLY! Very hard to find a used one with less than 100K on it. Most people who own them want to keep them. Just love to drive it, whenever I can pry it away from my wife. Mine is loaded, leather, heated front seats, Infinity AM/FM/CD/Cassette along with all the standard Limited equipment.
LOVE THIS VEHICLE! - 1996 Jeep Cherokee
By Linda HORRELL - December 20 - 3:30 pm
I LOVE my 1996 Jeep SE Cherokee! I bought it new in 1996, been driving it ever since. Just today (10 years and 87,000 miles later) had to bring it to the dealer with a problem (no heat, but overheating). Its a nice compact 4-wheel drive that has given me no real problems for the past 10 years. Good for snow and good for city driving and parking. Pulled a boat 2,000 miles to and from Florida, hauled dogs and dry cleaning. I love it! I even love its 96 boxy design. Downside: back seat is small & the cup holders worthless, occasionally overheats a bit in the summer if Im sitting in rush hour traffic.
good until 100K - 2000 Jeep Cherokee
By sugarplum - December 20 - 2:20 pm
I purchased my Jeep Cherokee 6 years ago with 73,000 miles on it. I loved the way I could go anywhere on/off road. I had no problems until she hit 100,000 miles. My A/C stopped working after many trips to the auto shop I gave up on having A/C. Then my heater quit working! I have gone through 2 rad.s in 2 years, blew a head once and still to this day have no heat and A/C. I dont think my problems have anything to do with the build I, think whoever had her before me didnt take care of her.
Best Vehicle EVER!!! - 2000 Jeep Cherokee
By avhowe - December 20 - 5:39 am
I bought my 2000 Jeep Cherokee Sport 7 years ago and loved it! It took me everywhere and could do about anything. Ride was a bit rough, but thats a Jeep. Last month I was hit in the rear by an Expedition doing 60 mph. I made it through the accident with only a mild concussion, unfortunately, my Jeep did not make it. It was still going strong with 161,000 miles on it. I miss driving it everyday. I am now out looking for a new Jeep, but only go with used because I want the 4.0L I6 motor!!
96 Cherokee 2wd 4 door 5 speed - 1996 Jeep Cherokee
By Aaron Waltz - December 18 - 2:23 am
I like this Jeep; its got the advantages of the smaller suvs such as ground clearance, storage, passenger room, roof racks, rear wheel drive and just being up higher than small cars (plus it looks like the 4wd). Plus the advantages of a compact car -- good ride, fuel economy no extra drivetrain to weigh it down or maintain, transmission/clutch repairs are a breeze compared to its 4wd cousin (no transfer case to deal with). Overall good little suv for the budget minded person. Also the 2.5 4 cylinder is surprisingly spunky. Its not a slouch as you would think; its no 4.0 liter but more power means less fuel economy. This day and age Id rather have the torquey 4 banger! it does the job quite well.
junk - 2001 Jeep Cherokee
By Jason - December 14 - 6:36 pm
I just got this jeep and let me tell you it stinks! No power no good off road capabilities. Worst of all no room. I have a family of 4 and none of us are liking it. Im going back to my chevy Avalanch more room, power and better fuel milage.
The Best SUV Ever - 2000 Jeep Cherokee
By jmtrumpet - December 13 - 7:12 am
The original SUV was, and is the best. Its reasonably economical, quick and agile, and combines the ruggedness of a true truck frame with agility (the agility is helped by the aftermarket, stiffer shocks I installed along with slightly wider high-performance tires). And it can go pretty much anywhere. My 1998 Jeep Cherokee Classic 4.0 has more than 180,000 miles on it - yet when I change the oil after 4000 miles, the dipstick still shows full! Ive never had an engine with this level of longevity. With its NP242 Selec-Trac transfer case, in addition to 2WD and 4WD Hi & Lo it also has Full Time All-Wheel Drive - in this mode on wet pavement its like having an Audi Quattro or BMW X-Drive.