Every time we see a built Cherokee, we're amazed at how it crawls, claws, and climbs over anything put in front of it, including obstacles that can stop CJs and Wranglers cold. Although usually assigned grocery go-getter duty, with some simple mods these bigger Jeeps can become unstoppable trail goats.
One such kid-hauler-turned-trail-tackler is Kyle Flaming's '92 Cherokee. We watched with slack-jawed wonder as the duo made short work of the toughest obstacles on this first-class trail--without a single scratch or ding. This rig's performance reinforces how we feel trail trucks should be built--simple. Use only what will make the truck perform better and skip the other stuff.
Cherokees are a great platform to build on and we often wonder why there aren't more of them out on the trails. The coil-spring/solid-axle front suspension design was proven to be one of the best suspensions of all time by the well-respected vintage Bronco. A coil-spring setup offers several advantages over leaf springs. Coils can be made with more progression spring-rate than leaves, so ride quality doesn't have to suffer when you add beefier springs. Additionally, coil-spring suspensions are just as easy and inexpensive to lift as leaf springs.
With a wheelbase of 101.4 inches, Cherokees have plenty of interior room to haul lots of family and gear and yet remain nimble enough to negotiate tight turns on the trail. They have great approach and departure angles so they're not as likely to leave paint on obstacles, unlike most other trucks of the same size. Kyle's rig is just what we look for in a feature truck. It's not flashy, it was built on a budget, and it works. With such an impressive display before us, we couldn't resist the urge to swarm around the Cherokee with the shutter clicking.
Make/Model: Jeep Cherokee
Engine: I-6, 4.0L
Transmission: 4-speed auto
Front Diff: Model 30
Rear Diff: Dana 35C
Transfer Case: NP231
Front Suspension: 6-inch-lift coil springs
Rear Suspension: 6-inch-lift leaf springs and 13/4-inch blocks
Tires: 33x12.50-15 Yokohama Super Diggers
Wheels: 15x10 Center Lines
Funky Fender Flares
The wide Yokohamas are great for traction and stability but their addition created a problem: They required wheels with very little backspacing because of interference with the track bars. As a result, the tires stuck out from the fenders. Exposed tires tend to attract the attention of the highway patrol and cause unsightly paint chips, but these problems can be avoided with fender flares. Kyle found that most aftermarket fender flare companies don't produce flares specifically for Cherokees. If you look closely at these flares, you may realize you've seen them before--on the back of Jeep Wranglers. Kyle discovered that the Wrangler rear flares fit around both the front and rear wheelwells without any modifications to the flares. The only thing necessary was a few small holes drilled for the mounting screws. The flares just barely cover the outside sidewalls, but they look like they were made to fit the Cherokee.