Jeep Cherokee XJ History
   In 1962 , Jeep produced a 4-door truck based wagon with 4-wheel drive called the Wagoneer. In 1974 , Jeep introduced the Cherokee badge to the Wagoneer . It was a sportier 2-door model of the Wagoneer . A year later the Cherokee Chief model was introduced that had a wider track axles to give better off-road performance.
Cherokee Wagoneer
   In 1983 Jeep introduced the all new Jeep Cherokee XJ . The new model year (1984) had evolved from the Cherokee Wagoneer into a smaller , lighter ,  more agile wagon . The only thing the new Cherokee had in common with its predecessor is the name . The new Cherokee was based on unibody construction(no frame) , coil-sprung front suspension supporting a solid front axle (Quadra-Link) . The rear suspension is a more traditional leaf spring setup with a solid axle . The interior seats 5 and has a rear cargo area .
  The original power plants came in two flavors , AMC's own carburated 2.5 Liter four cylinder engine that produced 105hp and was mated to a four speed manual tranny . The other engine was a General Motors 2bbl 2.8 Liter V6 that produced 115hp and was mated to either a four speed manual , a optional five speed manual or a three speed automatic tranny .  Jeep offered two 4wheel drive systems, the "Command Trac" part time shift on the fly system, or the "Selec-Trac" system that allowed full time AWD operation .
   The Cherokee came in three levels of trim , the Base package , the Chief (Sporty) , and the Pioneer (Luxury) .
     The Cherokee won 4x4 of the year in 1984 .
Upgrades

1985
Option os a Renault 4-Cyl. Turbodiesal engine .
The Loredo Trim level offered (Upgrade to the Pioneer) .
1986
New 2.5 Liter 4-Cyl. engine with fuel injection rated at 117hp .
1987
New Inline 6-Cyl. 4.0 Liter fuel injected (TBI) engine that produced 177 hp .
A new 4 speed auto tranny and a new 5 speed manual tranny were introduced .
The 4-Cyl. engine was worked on to produce 121hp .
The Limited trim level introduced (Top trim level with all the bells and whistles) .
1988
The turbodiesal engine was discontinued
A 2-door Sport model is added .
1989
ABS was introduced to Cherokees with the 4.0L engine mated to the automatic tranny with "Selec-Trac" .
The 13.5 gallon gas tank is upgraded to a 20 gallon tank .
1991
New MPFI added to the 4-Cyl engine , creating 130hp .
The MPFI is added to the 4.0L(HO)  engine , producing 190hp .
The Pioneer trim level is dropped .
The Briarwood trim is introduced ( Woody) .
A  4-door Sport model is added .
1993
Trim levels are simplified to the Base , Sport(s) , and the Country (New version of the Limited) .
Stainless steel exhaust are added to all Cherokees .
1994
Safety upgrades , side-impact beams , the roof was reinforced .
The AC units are added with non CFC units .
1995
Drivers side airbags are added .
1996
Heavier duty batteries and altenators are added .
The engines are upgraded with stiffer blocks and aluminum pistons .
1997
A major overhaul of the Cherokee family , reworked sheet metal gives the old boxy styling a updated look with softer lines from rear to front and new body moldings .The cabin is updated with a new dash with revised guage cluster and climate controls . The new interior also boasts a new center consol sporting drink holders . The electrical system was updated with new connectors and a decrased amount of wiring .
1998
The Limited returns as the top trim level, replacing the Country .
The Classic trim level is introduced .
 
1999
Engine efficiency is improved with new electronics and catalytic converter.
2000
A revamped I6 4.0 is used from the previouse years Grand Cherokee . The new engine meets LEV (Low Emission Vehicle) standards .
A new 5-speed manual is introduced .
2001
The last year of production for the Cherokee .
The 2.5L 4-Cyl. is no longer offered .


Source
Edmunds.com
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1997 Jeep Cherokee
1985 Cherokee Loredo
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