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Six Ways The 2014 Jeep Cherokee Is Better Than The XJ

2037 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  rummage
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I'll type them out here because I think it's important for existing XJ owners to read.

I'll be honest I did not expect much from the new Cherokee but it seems like it will be a suitable replacement. Though the approach angle is beyond different.

1. The Original XJ Wasn't A Truck

You know that ladder-and-frame XJ you miss? It doesn't exist. When AMC owned Jeep they invested $250 million Reagan-bucks into the XJ and its shorter, narrower, and lower unibody platform. That sound familiar? I'm sure if the Internet existed then everyone would be hearing about how the XJ was going to ruin everything pure about the SJ.
2. It's More Powerful

The best version of the XJ was the 4.0-liter inline-six. That's a bulletproof engine. Yet, at best, it produced 190 horsepower and 225 lb-ft of torque. Now you're getting 271 horsepower and 239 lb-ft of torque out of the six-cylinder engine. Want the smaller version? You're still getting 184 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque.
3. It's Dimensionally Better
Comparing a stock XJ to a stock 2014 Cherokee on off-road ability will be fun. Someone will do it. Maybe it will be us. The approach angle, departure angle, and break-over angle are going to be an important part of that.
Here's how they stack up:

  • Approach Angle: 38º (XJ) versus 29.8º (2014)
  • Departure Angle: 31º (XJ) versus 32.1º (2014)
  • Breakover Angle: 21º (XJ) versus 23.2º (2014)
That's fairly similar and, approach angle aside (welcome to the cruel modern world) it's better.
4. It's Taller
The stock ground clearance on an XJ was 7.3 inches for a stock Cherokee and 8.3 inches for the Upcountry versions. The running ground clearance of the new Trailhawk Cherokee? 8.7 inches. Booyah.
5. Its Crawl Ratio Is Nearly Double
The crawl ratio is a measure of the lowest gear a vehicle is capable of getting into, which is important if you're going to try and crawl over something (thus the name). The stock crawl ratio in the Trailhawk is 56:1, nearly double that of the XJ.
6. It's More Fuel Efficient
The best mileage any Jeep XJ with AWD could produce was 20 mpg. The best the Jeep can produce is 31 MPG. We'll see what the Trailhawk ultimately gets, but a disconnectable rear-locker plus the nine-speed transmission means it'll almost certainly be a massive improvement. The big drawback, of course, is no manual transmission. Sad.
You should all go and follow the comments going on. Many of them XJ owners likely.

Alright Matt, I'm going to counter some of your points:
1. The Original XJ Wasn't A Truck: The fact that both are unibody doesn't make the 2014 better than the 1992. Equal at most.
2. It's more powerful: This point does not account for where the torque is in the power band. When off-roading, LOW END GRUNT is crucial. This new vehicle will not produce as much torque in the bottom of the rev range. It just won't. That's partly due to emissions restrictions.
3. It's Dimensionally Better: The XJ has an 8.2 degree approach angle advantage. That's significant. The departure and breakover angles favor the KL by a total of only 3.3 degrees. Which one will you notice when off-roading? Definitely that lower approach angle.
4. It's taller: Sure, the XJ had only 7.3 inches of ground clearance, but that is TO THE DIFFERENTIAL PUMPKIN. Everything else is out of harm's way. The same cannot be said about the new one, where control arms, exhaust pipes, and basically the entire belly are all closer to the ground.
5. Its crawl Ratio is Nearly Double: Fair point, though, I'll mention again, you'll have to wring the motor out to get peak torque.
6. It's More Fuel Efficient: The XJ had 4wd, not AWD. Aside from that, you're right on. The XJ could barely break 20 mpg with a tail wind. With a manual, you could get 20mpg highway, but it's not easy with a vehicle whose drag coefficient is over 0.5.
I could go into tons of other reasons why the KL isn't as well built for off-road situations (less articulation, harder to lift, exposed CV joints, etc.), but let me just add this:
My XJ beats me up when I drive it, and sucks gas like a pig. So, there are areas where I'd rather have the KL, but the XJ is better built for off-roading
To counter that, here's six ways it's actually worse than the XJ Cherokee:
1) It was never designed to be a Jeep.
It's a Jeep now, and they've done everything they can to make it as capable as it can be, but the fact remains that it was never intended to be a Jeep as the XJ was.
2) It's notably more expensive.
I don't think that anything short of the XJ Wagoneers would reach the approximate adjusted cost of the Cherokee.
3) It's a more complicated vehicle.
The beauty of the XJ Cherokee was that it really was as stupidly simple as they came. They were easy to fix and easier to modify, something that probably can't be said of the new Cherokee. Complication out on the trail is a bad thing.
4) It's heavier
To be perfectly fair, the majority of the weight difference can't be helped; safety regulations are safety regulations, and they have to be met. Still, though, the fact remains that the XJ will always have the weight advantage, which can be very helpful on the trail.
5) It's ugly.
Butt ugly. In terms of aesthetics, it's the automotive equivalent of a sumo wrestler with severe acne sucking on a lime. On the other hand, the XJ Cherokee was classically handsome.
6) It lacks a manual
I'm not overly bothered by that myself, but many are, and quite honestly, the option is always nice
What do you think?
Many don't realize the Cherokee isn't an actual truck frame. Have to go Wrangler for that.

The comment section has some good points.
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