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Jeep Cherokee XJ - 4 Word

Posted in Features on April 17, 2001
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Contributors: Mark Nobles

Well, after vacillating for the last year or two and making a series of assurances and denials, it is finally official. Later this year, DaimlerChrysler will cease production of the XJ Cherokee. Many ardent four-wheelers will mourn the loss of the XJ not only because it was a such good, solid vehicle, but also because it hearkened back to a period when SUVs were built with exploration in mind. They were the product of a philosophy that had little to do with strip malls and everything to do with the great wide open.

But really, what did you expect? The Cherokee has been in continuous production for 17 years and has gone virtually unchanged during that time. In an industry famous for changing course in midstream to accommodate the whims of a very fickle American market, it's been a hell of a run. Better than most.

And though the production line may shut down, there are still millions of Cherokees on the road. Like the CJs and YJs, it will be decades before the Cherokee fully fades from memory. And even then, I suspect four-wheelers will keep many of them alive and well.

What I do find ironic, though, is that the Cherokee is being pulled from the line-up at a time when it seems to be experiencing renewed popularity. Four-wheelers are undertaking Cherokee projects in record numbers, and new venues are being created specifically for the XJ. Clive Skilton and Tom and Mike Barnett from T&J's 4 Wheel Drive Center are preparing to launch a new off-road racing series called Jeep Speed, which will be open only to XJ Cherokees. T&J's will produce a line of parts that are designed to make the XJ ready for both racing and rockcrawling while keeping it street legal.

What makes this so interesting is that many of those calling up to get more information and to get involved with Jeep Speed are hard-core four-wheelers. Companies such as Currie Enterprises and Rubicon Express, to name just a few, have already expressed an interest in building their own Cherokees to get out there and compete, and doubtless many more will follow.

So don't mourn for the old XJ just yet. Even though no new models will be forthcoming from Detroit, the Cherokee will continue to hold a niche in the off-road world for years to come.

Elsewhere in this issue you will find a lot of interesting information. We wanted to lean heavily on suspension tech this month, and, as part of that, we put together an extensive buyer's guide. It runs about eleven pages, but it covers just about every short-wheelbase SUV we could think of. I hope you find it useful.

Many people have already commented on this month's cover, so if you have any opinions about a truck on the cover of an SUV magazine, drop me a line. In my own defense, let me say that even though Walker Evans calls his rockcrawler a Chevy S-10, there is virtually nothing on it that is OE. It may have all the appearance of a Chevy truck, but this rig is a custom creation that Walker built in his shop from the ground up. I decided to put it on the cover because it is a great vehicle, it is a great shot, and it is indicative of the direction that extreme rockcrawling is going.

Finally, let me end with a plea for help. Our box of Trail Rigs has gotten so low that we may have to stop doing the department for a while. So, the next time you are out on the trail, why not take a quick shot of your rig and send it in? I do not care if it is in mud, snow, sand, or rocks, as long as it is an interesting shot of your vehicle. If you want a shot at being published, you can send your photos to 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility, 774 S. Placentia Ave., Placentia, CA 92870. Thank you.

EDITORIAL
Publisher/Truck Group Dave Withrow
Editorial Director Kevin Wilson
Editor Mark Nobles
Group Managing Editor Meredith Hoyer
Copy Editor J. David Jones
Editorial Assistant Maria Perez
Staff Contributors Brian Brennan
Peter Linney Dan Sanchez
Randall Jachmann
Contributing Editors &Photographers Russ Douglas, Bonnie Ferguson, Mark Gonske, Larry Heck, Mike House, Phil Howell, Tony Huegel, Michael Lawler, Sue Mead, Allen Merritt, Pattie Waters, Mark Werkmeister
THE TRUCK GROUP ON THE WEB
www.truckinweb.com www.4wdandsportutility.com
www.minitruckinweb.com www.off-roadweb.com
www.todayssuv.com  
ART DIRECTION & DESIGN
Corp. Creative Director Paul Graff
Art Dept. Managers Ron HuberDean MacFadden
Art Dept. Assoc. Managers Shelley Conner-BaughJong Cadelina
Graphic Designer Azirah Yi
MANUFACTURING
Executive Director of Manufacturing Greg Parnell
Production Director Pauline Schwarz
Director,Digital Prepress Deborah Arden
Prepress Manager Katherine Border
Prepress Supervisors John Cabral, Ric Garcia,Sam Landry
Production Manager Jennifer Stoner
Production Coordinator Robert Torrico
INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Associate Director,Technology Mike Wing
Associate Director,Prepress Troy Naragon
Associate Director,Customer Service Rick DeAvila
CIRCULATION
Circulation Director Janice Martin
Manager, Planning& Analysis Al Abadi
Subscriber Services (800) 759-4854({{{850}}}) 683-9815 Int'l.fspu@neodata.com
GR8RIDE.COM
President &Chief Executive Officer George Vrabeck

Subscriptions. U.S. and U.S. possessions $19.94 for 12 issues. All other countries, $28.94 for 12 issues. Payment in U.S. funds only. 4-Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Subscription Department, McMullen Argus Publishing, P.O. Box 56310, Boulder, CO 80322-6310. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery of first issue. Customer Service (800) 759-4854 Monday -Friday: 6:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. MST; Saturday: 7:30 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. MST. (SUBSCRIPTIONS ONLY).

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