Why Did The Jeep Cherokee Turn Into A Premium Crossover?

There are a lot of new Jeep models such as the Liberty and Renegade that are clouding the market. These options are taking away from the originals, like the Cherokee, leaving us to wonder what exactly happened to the Jeep Cherokee? It seemed to suddenly poof from a square, capable vehicle into a premium daily driver.

How Did the Jeep Cherokee Turn Into A Luxury Vehicle? 

Back in the early days, around 1974, the Jeep Cherokee was introduced to appeal to younger drivers and compete against the Jeep Wagoneer. This is because the Jeep Wagoneer felt large, like a station wagon. It was viewed as a family vehicle instead of a sporty Jeep for off-roading. 

The Second Generation Jeep Cherokee (XJ) had a lightweight, unibody design that inspired other SUVs. This is when SUVs started to replace sedans as daily drivers for a fun and sporty feel. This also lead to the Jeep Grand Cherokee spin-off. 

Jeep Cherokee

Becoming Different From The Grand Jeep Cherokee 

Then to separate the Jeep Cherokee from the Grand Jeep Cherokee, the Jeep Liberty was born. All of a sudden, the cool boxy feel of the Cherokee was replaced by the curvy Jeep Liberty. 

It felt like the Cherokee had disappeared altogether, even though the Liberty was marketed as the Cherokee in other countries. 

At this point, the Jeep Cherokee still existed as a compact option between the Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee. It was the first Jeep since the Wagoneer to have an independent front suspension. 

It also was the first Jeep to have rack and pinion steering, power tech engines, and the 210 horsepower 3.7 L V6. 

The Jeep Cherokee’s Demise 

In 2008 the Jeep Cherokee was redesigned to create the Jeep Cherokee Liberty. It lost it’s curvey look to become square again and even lost it’s round Jeep headlights. This was also the first time a rebranded version of a Jeep existed. 

The Dodge Nitro was the same as the Fourth Generation Cherokee and was being sold at the same time. To avoid selling duplicate vehicles and due to slow sales, both of these vehicles were discontinued. 

Because the Jeep Patriot and Compass were available to fill the need for a smaller SUV, the Cherokee was discontinued in American markets. It failed to meet emission standards, and there was no need to improve them with smaller Jeeps already available. 

The Jeep Cherokee’s Return 

Skip ahead to 2014, and boom, the Jeep Cherokee was reintroduced to American markets with yet another redesign. The Jeep Cherokee was back with headlights that made it look like it was squinting.

Despite the look that didn’t receive great reviews, sales of the mid-sized Jeep took off. It was marketed as a mid-sized option to make room for the Renegade under the Cherokee and Compass. 

The Jeep Cherokee is still being manufactured under this redesign with slightly winder headlights. It’s marketed as a luxury, rugged Jeep, but feels more like a daily driver than a Jeep suited for off-roading. 

It seems like Jeep attempted to use the Cherokee to fill various spots in the market over time, leaving it on the back burner to make way for new models. As far as compact Jeep models go, the Renegade seems to be Jeep’s focus, even though many fans are seeking used XJs instead.