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A Star is Born

In 1974, the Jeep Cherokee came into the world while sharing most of its features with the Wagoneer, which included dimensions and engine options. Major differences between the two were that the Cherokee initially was only available as a two-door while still containing the same wheelbase and length as the Wagoneer, but the Cherokee was cheaper and considered more luxurious. Eventually, a four-door option was created for the lineup in 1977.

The Enhancement that Came with the 80's

The 80's brought much change to the Jeep Cherokee as it no longer shared any features with its predecessor. Engineers constructed a short wheel-base, which shaved off over 7 inches from its original model. The overall length was also decreased by 21 inches and the weight was over a 1,000 pounds less than before. These decreases went a long way for better fuel mileage and easier on- or off-road handling. The styling of the Cherokee was taut and chiseled with robust wheel well flares and a tall greenhouse that allowed for increased visibility for both driver and passenger. The interior contained a simple dash and control layout and was able to seat up to five. The Jeep Cherokee came in trim levels that were the base Cherokee, the Pioneer, and the Chief. The Pioneer was referred to as the most luxurious trim level due to its featured carpeting, additional instrument panel gauges, full center console, and a rear window wiper/washer. The Chief was the sportiest of the trims with its blackout exterior trim, hood striping, and white-lettered tires. The Jeep Cherokee was considered to be the leader in four-wheel-drive capabilities due to the fact that Jeep offered two four-wheel-drive systems.The Command Trac was a part-time shift unit and the Selec-Trac system permitted the option of full-time four-wheel-drive operation.The Quadra-Link front suspension design was a solid axle that was suspended by coil springs and four links and helped build the Cherokee's reputation for being an off-road super-star. The Cherokee was so well received in its first year that approximately 78,000 Cherokees were sold in its first year.

New and Improved

In 1988, the Cherokee began to introduce two new features and trims, as well as scaled back on some less than popular features. Additions of a Limited two-door and the elimination of the turbo-diesel engine option and became instantly recognizable with the new eight-slot grille, which replaced the previous 10-slot unit. The Laredo trim was updated with a new chrome trim and lower bodyside cladding. To meet the needs of all drivers, a Sport two-door began to be offered and the Sport added alloy wheels and special graphics that made the plain Cherokee an instant character in the industry and allowed all buyers to have a remarkable vehicle while still being able to afford it. The availability of a four-wheel, anti-lock braking system for models with the 4.0-liter engine, automatic transmission, and Selec-Trac took the industry by storm in 1989. The anti-lock braking system automatically operated no matter what drive the vehicle was in.

The 90's and Beyond

It was not until fourteen years after the Cherokee debuted did it finally received a well-deserved face lift. In 1997, a $215 billion update happened when its rear and front ends were smoothed out, the interior was updated and noise, vibration, and harshness levels were improved upon. The 1997 Cherokee featured a more cohesive appearance due to its softened corners at the nose and tail and wheel well flares that were blended into the bumper ends. Its front vent windows were eliminated in order to produce a cleaner look and it lessened the wind noise. Also, there were larger side-view mirrors, new bodyside molding, new wheels, an optional deep-tint glass, and a center high-mounted stop lamp. The interior face lift was much more noticeable to the eyes with modern cabin features such as several key improvements, safety, and style. The new dash featured a passenger airbag, revised gauges, and a new center stack with easier controls. The climate control system now sported a much cleaner design with less pieces which helped to decrease any type of rattling or squeaks. 1998 brought a juggling of trim levels. The Country was replaced with the Limited as the top-of-the-line Cherokee, and the Classic was no slotted between the Sport and the Limited. The Classic now came with color-keyed bumpers and moldings, a roof rack, air conditioning, power mirrors, and alloy wheels to the Sport. Refinement was brought with the year 2000 as the Cherokee was engineered with the 4.0-liter inline six. The redesigned engine was quieter and cleaner since it now met the Low Emission Vehicle standards. The Limited trim level swapped out its standard monochromatic appearance for a more flashier appearance with chrome highlights on its grille, headlight bezels, silver alloy wheels, and a rear license plate brow.

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