Here’s why the Jeep Cherokee XJ SUV is increasing in value

Take a look around your streets today and chances are you’ll cross paths with an XJ Jeep Cherokee. A vehicle that was first introduced over thirty eight years ago and yet you still see them everywhere. From 1984 to 2001, the Cherokee hasn’t changed much, more importantly, what remains is what makes the XJ so special.


This Jeep pioneered the compact SUV market and was way ahead of its time. The iconic Cherokee was mass-produced, so rarity is certainly not a contributing factor to its increase in value. So why is the Jeep Cherokee XJ starting to go up in value like never before?

Related: Which Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Is the Most Reliable


The Jeep Cherokee XJ was a crossover before crossovers ever existed

Via: Jeep

Back in the early 1980s, you might be hard-pressed to find an SUV at your local dealership. The term Sport Utility Vehicle did not exist yet. Instead, the new Cherokee was marketed as a “Sportwagon”. At the time, there were only a few SUV options offered by manufacturers such as General Motors.

The Chevy Blazer and GMC Jimmy were initially offered only in two-door models. The SUV of the eighties was essentially a pickup truck with an RV shell on top. The XJ Cherokee changed all that. It was introduced in both two- and four-door models constructed with a lightweight unibody frame.

Jeep Cherokee XJ in red hd wallpaper
Via: Jeep

Rather than the usual body-on-frame design that all trucks were built with at the time; Cherokee opted for a monocoque design. While remaining stiff and robust, the frame was lighter and made the Cherokee more fuel efficient than its competitors.

The XJ Cherokee was shorter, narrower and over a thousand pounds lighter than its SJ Cherokee predecessor. However, it managed to retain most of its internal volume. With better approach, departure and breaking angles, the XJ Cherokee was the first unibody 4×4 built for on and off-road use.

The 4×4 versions were equipped with a two-speed low-range gearbox. The XJ’s design was revolutionary and paved the way for a movement that resulted in the modern crossover we see today.

The XJ Jeep Cherokee was built with durability in mind

Jeep Cherokee XJ looks desirable in red
Via: Jeep

While the XJ Cherokee was unique in having a unibody frame, it retained solid front and rear axles. Along with leaf springs at the rear and coilovers at the front, the XJ was equipped with the perfect setup for any off-road enthusiast. When optioned with the tow package, some models between 1987-1991 came with Dana 44 rear axles, increasing towing capacity up to 5,000 lbs.

The lightweight chassis and short wheelbase together with its solid powertrain is what makes the XJ Cherokee so special. The build quality is reminiscent of the Jeep CJs that came before it. With its roots in 4×4 automotive royalty, the XJ represented the birth of a new era. It was a vehicle that could comfortably take you to the grocery store one day and then cross the Rubicon trail the next.

Related: This Is the Best Used Jeep Cherokee Year You Can Buy

The Jeep Cherokee XJ was the first SUV to be equipped with the AMC 4.0 Straight Six

Jeep Inline 6 engine
Via: Jeep

In 1987, the XJ Cherokee was the first to be optioned with AMC’s fuel-injected 4.0 inline-six engine. The famous 242 cu-in 4.0 was in the Cherokee before it ever made it into the Jeep Wrangler. In 1991, the 4.0 High Output engine increased horsepower from 173 to 190. The 235 lb-ft of torque was a huge number for such a light frame.

The straight six’s long crankshaft helps create plenty of torque, which is essential when you’re out on the trails. The 4.0 is a major reason why you still see so many XJ Cherokees on the road today. With a reliable powertrain, the XJ was now complete, making it one of the most durable and capable SUVs ever built.

Jeep Cherokee XJ values ​​are steadily increasing

Jeep Cherokee XJ interior view
Via: Jeep

Classic rugged off-road SUVs are going through a renaissance. With more people retreating to nature after the pandemic, the capable off-road SUV has become as desirable as a modern crossover. Now that the values ​​of the popular off-roaders have become unattainable, many enthusiasts have started looking at the classic SUV market.

The XJ was once a sub-$5,000 vehicle in good condition. These days you can’t find a clean 4×4 with the 4.0 for less than $10,000. The average price for a used Cherokee XJ is around $12,400.

2001 Jeep Cherokee XJ Sport SUV
Via: Bring a Trailer

It was only a matter of time before enthusiasts caught on to the Cherokee. The XJ encompasses everything the Jeep brand stands for and more. In addition to its capability, the Cherokee is also special because of its lightweight chassis. With its slim frame, short wheelbase and torquey powertrain, the XJ was designed to tackle any trail.

Today, there is no vehicle on the market like the XJ Cherokee. With unibody construction, leaf spring and coilover suspension on solid axles, the XJ is truly a relic of the past. Combine its capability with its reliable build quality, and it’s no wonder why you still see so many of them on our roads today.

Sources: Jeep, Classic Cars, Bring a Trailer

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