2001 Jeep Cherokee, better known to car enthusiasts as the XJ Jeep Cherokee, is a vehicle that many car enthusiasts love and still get into fights for when it is listed for sale. And in this article, we will tell you why everyone loves it so much.
While simplicity is a big reason why people love the Cherokee today, it had a huge impact on the car world despite its relatively basic design. This is ultimately one of the first crossovers and maybe the very first. The first unibody-designed SUV. Before the Cherokee, SUVs were full-size trucks like the old Chevy Blazer and the Dodge Ram charger. This was the first smaller personal-sized one that gave birth to the entire crossover and SUV movement that we have today.
Style and Simplicity
This car came out in 1984 and for 17 years through 2001, it had basically the same design with only minor updates. It has a characteristic distinctive boxy upright look that you cannot find in modern SUVs with flowing lines and sensual curves. So, the XJ Cherokee just represents something you can’t get anymore.
Another reason why XJ Cherokee people love this car is for its simplicity. It has a design rooted in the 1980s with not much that can break or go wrong. But it’s not just mechanical simplicity that people love about this car. These cars are simple in a way that other vehicles aren’t.
It is just amazing how much in this car you can take apart with a screwdriver or a wrench! Most new cars have all the little screws hidden behind little panels or trim pieces, and when you get to them you have to take out a special tool. And XJ Cherokee is simple. For example, in the cargo area, the trip piece has exposed screws that you can remove with a simple screwdriver. Or the brake lights: you can undo the bolts and then the brake light comes right off. Anybody could remove the brake light and change it in this car.
This is also true in the interior of the XJ. Most cars go to great lengths to hide all the screws to make it seem like everything is seamlessly put together. But with this Jeep, there are exposed screws in the doors, the seat rails, this car is almost like Lego. It’s incredibly easy for people who want to work on a vehicle themselves.
But simplicity in this car isn’t just about being able to take it apart and put it back together again. It goes far deeper than that. For example, the turn signal stock: you push it down to turn on the turn signal or up you pull it in for the high beams. That’s it. Another interesting thing is the gauge cluster. You just have six gauges, your odometer, and a couple of warning lights, that’s pretty much it. The center console in this car is a big piece of grey plastic with three levers: the parking brake, the four-wheel-drive lever, and the transmission lever.
Quirks and Features
Something that we find interesting in the last couple of years of the XJ Cherokee, Jeep decided to spell out the engine displacement 4.0 liter. Except they spelled «litre» the British English way of spelling, ending in -re. It didn’t really make sense considering most of these were sold in the United States.
Another interesting quirk around back in the Cherokee is the door handles. Instead of grabbing them and pulling them you have to push a little button and that pops them open, and then you can open them. The strangest part though is that the door handle in the back for the tailgate is normal.
Another interesting exterior quirk of the Cherokee is its small size. This vehicle is only 167,5 inches long. That makes it over a foot shorter than a modern Honda Civic. In part, it is because the manufactures decided to steal a lot of room from the rear passenger. The front door looks normal-sized. The rear door is tiny, and there is no room back here. There is little room in the backseat, but also, there are no rear headrests.
But Jeep did one really nice thing for the rear passengers in the Cherokee, namely, they gave them power windows that could roll all the way down. The reason most windows and rear doors don’t go all the way down is because they hit the wheel arch and so they can’t go any further in the door. Jeep counteracted that by just sticking a giant fixed window that takes up about a third of the window space, and that made the window part that rolls down smaller so that it could roll all the way down.
Another interesting thing about the rear seat in a Cherokee: this isn’t a split folding rear seat so you can fold part of it at once, but the entire bench can fold flat so you have a larger cargo area. Under the bottom part of the bench seat in a Cherokee, they placed all the tire equipment you might need to change a tire: the jack and the tire iron.
XJ Jeep Cherokee has another interesting feature — there is no under the cargo area floor like in most cars. The spare tire is at the back of the car next to the rear window. It’s not really the best place since it steals some cargo room.
There are a few other interesting interior quirks worth mentioning in the XJ Cherokee starting with the stereo. You have a little joystick that you can move to make the music sound best in the car. The stereo has ten radio presets but five preset buttons. If you tap each preset twice it turns on the next preset that is hidden from view. It is also worth noting that the center console in this car was rather useful: it had slots for both CDs and cassette tapes. But you couldn’t do both. If you had CDs in there then the cassette tape slots weren’t usable and vice versa. Another interesting thing about the stereo in this car: if you’re driving along at night you turn the headlights, all of the dashboard lights light up like in every car. But if you’re driving along in a day and, for example, you go into a tunnel, there are three buttons that are always lit on the stereo: bass, mid-range, and treble. Another weird thing is the sun visor. It has a dimmer so you can look at yourself in full brightness or dimmer.
Something else that’s interesting: a lot of cars at this time had a cigarette lighter in an ashtray but in the Cherokee simplicity is key and it was optional. This car doesn’t have that option but it does have a little storage tray about the size of an ashtray. However, unlike an ashtray, you can’t pull it out to empty your ashes so it specifically says «no smoking».
On the Road
It’s worth noting how easily XJ Cherokee can be modified to go deep off-road. This car has a serious four-wheel-drive system. The steering feels heavy and the car feels rather substantial. In terms of the steering, it almost feels like a midsize or a larger SUV. When you look out you just see everything everywhere. There are no headrests at the back to impede the vision and also all of the windows are massive in this car.
The car is not fast. When you press the accelerator it responds instantly and gets going quickly but it is not a vehicle with a lot of passing power. The ride quality is good, it absorbs bumps well considering it was engineered in the early-mid 1980s.
Another great advantage when driving Jeep Cherokee is its size. Because it is not as big as most SUVs nowadays, it is very maneuverable, parkable, and drivable in all situations. This is also one of the reasons that many people like it.
In terms of road noise and tire noise, you can’t really hear the road, the tires, or other cars, it’s pretty good in that sense. However, a lot of engine gets into the cabin. You don’t get that kind of engine noise in modern vehicles.
People love the simplicity of the XJ Jeep Cherokee which isn’t really available anymore. It is outstanding with its boxy styling and the small size in the off-road prowess which is getting harder and harder to find. And honestly, people just love Jeeps, and the XJ Cherokee was a quintessential Jeep. It’s been 20 years since you could buy one of these Jeeps as a new car, and yet they’re still highly desirable and highly sought after.