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1984-1988 Jeep Cherokee/Wagoner XJ

Posted in Project Vehicles on September 19, 2007 Comment (0)
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1984-1988 Jeep Cherokee/Wagoner XJ
Photographers: Courtesy of Jeep
<strong>The Fact:</strong>The number of grille slots on the XJ was cut from 10 to eight by 1988. That would be for no particular reason.<br /><strong>The Worthless Fact:</strong><br /> When the two-millionth Cherokee was produced, President Clinton came to the factory to help celebrate. He later attended the opening of an envelope. The Fact:The number of grille slots on the XJ was cut from 10 to eight by 1988. That would be for no particular reason.
The Worthless Fact:
When the two-millionth Cherokee was produced, President Clinton came to the factory to help celebrate. He later attended the opening of an envelope.

The model year was 1984, and Jeep took a leap of epic proportion (for them) - it unveiled its first all-new vehicle in more than 20 years. But fearing the change that comes with new things, it clung to an existing name: Cherokee. That, and Wagoneer. The Cherokee and Wagoneer II were created as smaller, lighter, cheaper alternatives to the existing fullsize Cherokee/Wagoneer (the Senior Jeep, or SJ, as that model was called, was then later renamed Grand Wagoneer, but more on that in another Autopsy). Think sport truck (XJ) versus family truckster (SJ). The two downsize product lines were differentiated from each other by the Cherokee's more rugged rep and the Wagoneer II's more luxo style. While trim levels came and went - then came again, then went again - and engines got more potent, the XJ remained essentially the same durable, capable Jeep throughout its existence until 2001. Just don't be fooled when you hear the Cherokee name still being spoken overseas. That's just a Liberty. And don't be fooled by the Commander - period.

The History
In 1963, two new J Jeeps hit the ground running: the Wagoneer ute and the Gladiator pickup. But jump to 1983 (and $250 million later), and AMC realized big bucks could be had in the compact 4x4 market, so it debuted the all-new '84 "sport wagon." (Yes, its purpose was indeed to fill a void in the market, not to be a distraction from the death of the CJ-5.) The Cherokee came in two- and four-door configurations, while the Wagoneer II was offered simply as a four-door. The XJ's only "redesign" over the course of its life was more like a freshening, which happened to the '97 model when it got, most notably, a new grille and front fascia.

The Model/The Body
One of the biggest deals about the XJ was its "uniframe," or unibody, construction. The "new concept" in 4x4 design was to weld the box frame directly to the floorpan for more strength, better ground clearance, and even lighter weight compared to body-on-frame. The XJ came in at 21 inches shorter than the lengthy SJ (165.3 inches versus 186.3 inches) and with a wheelbase of 101.4 inches (compared to 108.7 inches). It was also narrower at 65.9 inches (the SJ was 72 inches). In addition to shedding the SJ's bulkier body, it dumped some poundage too - 901 pounds. It had a GVWR of 4,629 pounds.

When the XJ launched, the Cherokee had a base model as well as the sporty Chief and the fancy Pioneer, while the Wagoneer was offered in base and as a chic-y Limited. Which to get? The marketing slant was that the Cherokee was for first-time, recreational-going buyers, while the Wagoneer was geared toward repeat 4x4 buyers or ones who'd owned a two-by wagon. Translation: If you were young and poor, you'd buy a Cherokee. If you were old and rich, you'd go Wagoneer. Features unique to the Wagoneer were narrow fender flares (the Cherokee's were wide) and chrome side mirrors and door handles (the other XJ's were black).

In the next year came the Laredo - more flashy than the Pioneer - followed two years later by the Cherokee Limited (pimpy gold wheels, anyone?), then, shortly after, a two-door Limited. Plus, a two-door Sport. Keeping up? For 1990, the Pioneer was yanked and the Cherokee got wood - Briarwood. And then there were three: For 1993, models were just base, Sport, and Country (can't have anything more lavish than the new high-end Grand Cherokee, after all). But then there were three again: A year later the SE was born, although technically it was just a way to avoid the word "base." The year after the XJ's '97 redesign, the Classic arrived, and the dead Limited traded spaces with the alive Country, although only as an optional package, not a trim level - until 2000, when the Limited became an actual model again. Fickle much?

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The Engine
The XJ came out of the gate with a brand-new AMC 2.5L four-cylinder as the standard engine, which made 110 hp, although that was bumped up to 117 hp by 1987 when it went fuel-injected. It had a one-barrel Carter/Weber carb and cast-iron block and head, with uniside-flow cylinder heads. GM's 115hp 2.8L V-6 had a two-barrel Rochester carb with an open-loop design in every state but California and had cross-flow cylinder heads (it also had one of AMC's highest warranty rates in its history). It used a 60-degree angle versus the more common 90-degree. The '87 2.5L engine got a new power-steering pump as well as a new water pump and a metric oil filter. The XJ also had a short-lived, optional Renault 126ci 2.1L turbodiesel four-banger that made 85 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque and featured a 21.5:1 compression ratio (it wasn't available in California; even back then, the state was an emissions-hugger).

The '87 model year is when radiator support got changed for more clearance and the firewall got tweaked so that the GM engine could be replaced by the glorious Power-Tech Six 4.0L six-cylinder, which had a high-flow head, multiport fuel-injection, and a displacement of 242ci. It made 177 hp at 4,500 rpm and 224 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm and ran a head-port design lifted straight from the 2.5L. For the '91 XJ, the high output version of the 4.0L was born (which was added to the Wrangler as well), and both it and the 2.5L got pony bumps. (For more technical details about the 4.0L, pull the April '06 issue from your archives, which has "The History of the 4.0L.")

The Transmission
The XJ received new four- and five-speed manual transmissions, which were engineered so that the entire gear assembly was supported by an intermediate bearing plate; the gear assembly could be removed right from the case. Both trannys had fully synchronized gears and an aluminum housing. The Cherokee had a Borg-Warner T-4 standard with the 2.5L, while a Borg-Warner T-5 with Overdrive was attached to the V-6 as standard equipment, although the four-cylinder could be had with it too. You're probably wondering, What about the Aisin Seiki AX-4 and AX-5? Jeep says the XJ started off production with the T-4 and T-5, although the production application is not clear. The optional automatic for either engine was a Chrysler 904 heavy-duty three-speed with a new lock-up converter. The Wagoneer got the five-speed as standard for both engines and the three-speed as the option (in other words, no four-speed manual for it). In 1987, a new four-speed automatic with Overdrive (AW4) replaced the three-speed and included Power and Comfort shift options. The four-speed manual also was deleted. The AX-15 five-speed manual appeared in 1988 and began phasing out the bad-tasting Peugeot BA-10 that had previously come with the 4.0L. The AX-15 was then swapped for the NV3550 in 2000.

Early XJ testing at the Jeep proving ground. With up to 110 hp, it's a good thing helmets were required.<br /><br /> Early XJ testing at the Jeep proving ground. With up to 110 hp, it's a good thing helmets were required.

The Transfer Case
The standard T-case for the XJ Cherokee was the new part-time unit, the Command-Trac NP207 for "active" control of the driveline and was available with a Trac-Lok limited-slip. It was similar to the NP208 on the SJ, but it had a vacuum control switch and a synchronizer assembly for shift on the fly. Meanwhile, the Wagoneer II had the "passive" full-time Selec-Trac - first introduced on the '82 SJ models - making the NP229 standard, although the Cherokee could be optioned that way. Shift on the fly arrived in this T-case around 1985, and the limited slip came about a year later. Both featured front axle disconnect and were two-piece aluminum cases. In 1987, there was a new Command-Trac NP231 and a new Selec-Trac NP242.

A huge deal was when the XJ got ABS in 1989. It was a four-corner system that could function in both two- and four-wheel drive. A huge deal was when the XJ got ABS in 1989. It was a four-corner system that could function in both two- and four-wheel drive.

The Suspension/The Axles
Behold, the Quadra-Link front suspension. The solid-axle setup had at the front end four locating arms, two coil springs, and a track bar, in addition to a stabilizer bar and dual-action gas shocks. The rear was comprised of a solid axle, semi-elliptical leaf springs, gas shocks, and a stabilizer bar. An automatic load-leveling system was optional. The front axle was always a Dana 30, but three different versions of it were used over the years. At first, a high-pinion Dana 30 was used until 1991 - some with and some without an axle disconnect. This is essentially the same axle that can be found in the YJ.

The high-pinion non-disconnect front axle (the most desirable factory XJ axle) was used from 1992-'99, and the TJ low-pinion Dana 30 was used in 2000-'01 XJs. In 1995 the front axleshafts were changed to accept larger more desirable 297x or 760x U-joints. Out back was a semi-floating Dana 35 without C-clips (1984-'86). From then on the C-clip version of the Dana 35 was used until the end of production alongside the 27-spline Chrysler 8.25 (1991-'96) and the 29-spline Chrysler 8.25 (1997-2001); a Dana 44 was optional in 1987. Gear ratios ranged from 3.07:1 all the way up to 4.10:1 depending on the drivetrain configuration. Because the Wagoneer was the more "cush" of the two XJs, its suspension was tuned toward touring. The Off-Highway Package was intro'd in 1987 and with it came skidplates, 4.10s, beefier suspension parts, and tow hooks.

SPEED READING
THE &RSQUO;84 JEEP CHEROKEE/
WAGONEER XJ
2.5L (2.46)
FOUR-CYLINDER
2.8L V-6
Wheelbase: 101.4 in. Displacement: 150ci Displacement: 173ci
Overall length: 165.3 in. Bore x stroke: 3.875x3.188 in. Bore x stroke: 3.50x3.00 in
Overall width: 65.9 in. Compression ratio: 9.2:1 Compression ratio: 8.5:1
Overall height: 63.2 in. Horsepower:105 hp @ 5,{{{200}}}
rpm
Horsepower: 110 hp @ 4,800
rpm
Curb weight: 2,863 lbs. (two-
door)
Torque: 135 lb-ft @ 2,800 rpm Torque: 145 lb-ft @ 2,400 rpm
Transmission (standard):
T-4 or AX-4 four-speed manual
Transmission (standard):
T-4 or AX-4 four-speed manual
ransmission (standard):
T-4 or AX-4 four-speed manual
Transfer case(standard):
NP207 with Command-Trac
Transfer case(standard):
NP207 with Command-Trac
Transfer case(standard):
NP207 with Command-Trac

'07 Jeep XJ?
This was spotted in China; is it the first glimpse of a future Jeep? Not exactly. It's a Jeep in production over there, but it's not anything newsworthy, at least for them. DaimlerChrysler has a licensing deal with Beijing Motor to make vehicles (in exchange for royalties), and with that comes molds, production parts, and anything else needed to build a vehicle. Problem is, the assembly line appears to be run by a bunch of drunken monkeys that pull whatever production pieces they like to Frankenstein a vehicle. While this one is predominantly an XJ, you'll also spot Durango taillights and a WK grille. And the monkeys in charge of naming the mutant Jeeps have no concept of what a 2500 truck would mean here; in other words, that's not a 3/4-ton Jeep.

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