Jeep Cherokee, Past And Present

The Cherokee was introduced in 1974 by American Motors/Jeep, a sportier, two-door version of the Wagoneer that was on the SJ platform. Fast-forward 40 years and the Cherokee name has returned for 2014 after a 13-year hiatus. Yet looking back at this Car and Driver review of a 1977 AMC Cherokee Chief, it seems that the cliche of “the more things change, the more they stay the same” rings true.

The older Cherokee carried a base price of $5,673, but the publication’s test vehicle had options on it bringing the total to $8,000. Unusually equipped with the 258-cubc inch six-cylinder (instead of the more popular V8), Car and Driver‘s Cherokee Chief also came with Quadra-Trac full-time four-wheel-drive system, HydraMatic transmission, mag-type wheels, and an AM radio.

With a 109-inch wheelbase and overall length of 183.7 inches, the Cherokee Chief had stellar off-roading capabilities but also was easy to live with. According to Car and Driver Technical Director Don Sherman, the Cherokee was an excellent daily driver, being “… roomy, tough, fun to drive and a bear for work.”

In comparison, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee offers drivers a choice of a 2.4L inline-four or 3.2L V6, nine-speed automatic transmission, and the choice of front-wheel-drive or three (!) four-wheel-drive systems. With a wheelbase of 106.3-inches and an overall length of 182 inches, the new Cherokee hasn’t grown out of its ancestor’s shoes – it is still just as capable and versatile but with the modern niceties of today.

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