The review is written considering the fact that a 20 year old car is being driven in the year 2018 with its current main purpose being for offroading
- Old School Driving
- Bullet proof Inline 4.0 Engine
- Light Weight Unibody Construction
- Extremely Capable Offroader
- Easy to Modify
- Basic Features
- Famous for Death Wobble
- Reliability is a concern
- Tends to overheat unless modification is done
A car that was initially launched in 1984 as a compact utility vehicle, the Cherokee XJ has grown to be one of the originators and the precursor to the current day SUVs. Its design has been noted as one of the greatest of all time. Popular Mechanics listed the XJ as one of "the 25 greatest boxy cars of all time". It is built on a unibody construction which offers it a light weight body
- 6 cylinder inline 4.0 engine
- Power 190 hp @ 4300 rpm
- Torque 305 N.m @ 3000 rpm
- Gross Weight of approx 1400 kg
- Transmissions are 5 speed manual or 4 speed automatic.
In the UAE market, the XJ is available in GCC, American (most common) and Japanese specs. One should be careful while buying the American Spec or rather the American import cars as many of them have been in some sort of accident with some of them having serious damage. Traditionally Cherokee XJs do run hot due to their limited size of the radiator, and hence the GCC Spec is the most preferred version.
Cherokee XJs come with solid front and rear axles. Though an outdated technology in comparison to Independent Suspension, it follows the principal of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Hence a very rugged design which is useful when one takes this car offroad. Further, modifications in terms of lift kit and installation of bigger tyres is relatively easier compared to an Independent Suspension vehicle. However, saying that, the vehicle in stock condition runs a finely balanced suspension, and any alteration such as a lift can trigger the famous death wobble especially with worn out busing and joints.
In current times, most buyers of this vehicle are mainly offroad enthusiasts, who appreciate the the high power to weight ratio (135 hp per ton). However, in offroad the manual version does overshine the automatic version purely because in the automatic version the lowest possible gear that can be selected is a 1-2, and the vehicle does tend to upshift after reaching a speed of 40 km/h which kills the entire torque which is the most critical aspect of steep uphill climbs. While this issue can be overcome by selecting 4 low in the transfer case it does put a lot of strain on the engine as its revving at 5000+ rpms. I strongly recommend to go for a GCC spec manual transmission as that gives one the liberty to choose the right gear for the moment which is especially useful in long steep hill climbs as shown in the below videos:
Location : Sweihan
Location : Faya (from the right side)
Reliability is a definite concern with the Cherokee XJ, and hence I advise those who are interested in this vehicle to get the vehicle properly inspected before doing a purchase. Further, it is advisable to get all the wearable parts replaced with original MOPAR parts instead of cheap after market parts before venturing into the desert.
I have been driving this vehicle for the past year both as a daily driver as well as my weekend drives and have thoroughly enjoyed every moment. The vehicle I drive is almost stock except for the following modifications:
1. Replaced the existing radiator with a 4 core aluminium radiator
2. Added extra fans infront of the radiator to improve the cooling under offroad driving conditions
3. 3" inch lift by installing harder suspensions
Major expenses in terms of maintenance has been replacement of clutch and flywheel, along with replacements of the track bar and some bushings.
Conclusion : Would I recommend this vehicle to others?
Would definitely recommend a manual transmission Cherokee XJ if you are able to get a good clean vehicle (which can be quite rare and difficult to find) as its a lot of fun to drive this vehicle. It would also help to have a good mechanic as your friend to help you with the fixes from time to time. I bought the vehicle for AED 11,000 (slightly above the market price), plus I spent an additional AED 5000 to get it to current condition, but I have not yet regretted my decision.
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