JEEP CHEROKEE 1994 – 2014

1997 Jeep Cherokee

1997 Jeep Cherokee

The introduction of the all-new Jeep Cherokee KL Series in July 2014 has resulted in quite a few people upgrading from their old Cherokees. Resulting in many trade ins waiting to be shifted from used-car yards, so there might be some good prices on offer as dealers try to clear their stocks. No promises, but why not see for yourself?

Official imports of Jeeps to Australia didn’t begin 1994 but many were brought in privately for years before that. These older models are probably best left to Jeep enthusiasts (of which there are plenty) as spares and repairs can be a hassle. Also, Cherokees prior to September 2001 are positively antique by today’s standards, dating back to the early 1980s.

Jeep Cherokee is a station wagon with very good off-road ability. It’s not quite in the class of Jeep Wrangler in ultra-tough off-road situations, but does much more than most owners ask, and is significantly more comfortable than the Wrangler.

2001 Jeep Cherokee

2001 Jeep Cherokee

Though the new Jeep KK Series, launched in March 2008 retained it’s off-road ability it was more sophisticated than the KJ Series it replaced, it’s certainly more than a soft-roader. The KK has the spare wheel under the rear of the vehicle, not on the back door. It’s significantly longer in the wheelbase and the cabin. The boot is also longer, though it is relatively high off the ground, so loading isn’t all that easy and the overall interior height has been compromised.

Petrol engines are straight sixes and V6s. Both powerplants are pleasant to sit behind, with good low end grunt. The V6 has been improved substantially over the years and is more economical than the old straight unit. Turbo-diesels first arrived back in 1997 and have become increasing common over the years. Some of the turbo-diesels share components with Mercedes as Chrysler and Mercedes were in partnership at one time.

Drive is normally taken to the rear wheels only but four-wheel drive can be used on bitumen as well as off-road. That gives the added safety of extra grip if used on wet roads. Numerous electronic aids are used in the later models making off-road driving available to the relatively inexperienced. But we suggest you play it safe and have at lease one expert along before you get too bold.

2008 Jeep Cherokee

2008 Jeep Cherokee

These are relatively easy vehicles to work on, with good underbonnet space and a relatively simple mechanical makeup. Spare parts prices are about average for a 4WD in this class and the dealer network works efficiently.

Insurance is seldom over expensive and we know of no real differences from one major insurer to another as far as premiums are concerned. As always when shopping around for insurance, it’s important to know what you are getting, and not getting, for your money.

Check under a Jeep Cherokee for signs of damage caused by off-road driving.

Check for salty-tasting sand, the latter indicates beach use and may mean heavy rust is on the way.

Be sure that the engine starts quickly even when cold. Idle should be smooth virtually from the instant of start up. The engines should pull without hesitation at all times. None are all that smooth at the top end of the rev range, but if it appears too bad there may be troubles. Listen for a rumbling sound from the lower end of a petrol six. Check there are no oil fumes from the exhaust or the oil filler cap.

Make sure the transfer-case lever isn’t too heavy and that the transmission works relatively smoothly and quietly at all times.

Look out for poorly fitted components as build quality is nothing special, the interior is generally the worst.

Check everything is working properly, even the minor items. Going through these one at a time using the owners’ handbook is the best method.

More Jeeps go off-road than just about any other 4WD, so may have suffered as a result. On the other hand the off-road boys and girls who own them usually look after their trucks correctly.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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