I cannot remember a time when I did not remember seeing a Jeep Cherokee on the road. It seems like they have been around since the SUV was first created. The truth is that they did not hit the road until 1974. The Cherokee was considered a downsized version of the Jeep Wagoneer. The two vehicles were remarkably similar. The Cherokee was the sportier of the two. They shared more of the same characteristics of the Wagoneer, including the engine selections and the dimensions. The major difference between the two was that the Cherokee was less expensive. In 1974, the Cherokee was only available in a two door. The two door included the same wheelbase and length as the Wagoneer. The four door did not join the line until 1977.
In 1984, most American made cars were downsized to meet their customer needs. The Cherokee was no different. The Jeep Cherokee that was released in 1984 did not share anything with its predecessor, expect for the name. The vehicle had a shorter wheelbase. The wheelbase was just over 7 inches shorter than the older models. The overall length was also 21 inches shorter. The Cherokee was also a much lighter vehicle. The Cherokee weighted in at around 3,100 pounds, which is over 1,000 pounds lighter. Being lighter made the vehicle more fuel efficient, and easier to maneuver on road and off. The lighter jeep Cherokees were well received by the general public. This propelled Jeep into the leader spot in the four wheel drive market.
In 1985, the Lardo was added to the Jeep Cherokee family. The Laredowas a trim version of the Cherokee. The vehicle included upgrades; such as plush interior, alloy wheels and chrome grille treatment. The same year additional revisions were made to the Cherokee. They included front headrest and passenger assist handles. The two wheel drive versions were added for those consumers that did not need the capabilities of a four wheeled drive. Additional options were also included; such as, keyless entry and a Renault-sourced four cylinder turbodiesel engines.
In 1986, two crucial hardware upgrades were added. They redesigned the powerful four cylinder engine and replaced the carburetor with fuel injection. In 1987, serious power had become an option. They now had a six cylinder engine. 2000 was the last year that substantial changes were made to the Jeep Cherokee. They refined the vehicle and introduced the Grand Cherokee. The Grand Cherokee had a revamped engine, which ran quieter and cleaner.