The XJ Cherokee was introduced in 1984 and marked a shift for Jeep toward the use of unibody construction, rather than the traditional body-on-frame design. Designs of the XJ Cherokee originated in 1978, when a team of American Motors (AMC) and Renault engineers drew up several sketches and clay models based on the existing SJ Cherokee. It was thought that the styling of the XJ was partly influenced by Renault's sketches, following the companies' 1979 partnership. This came at a time when General Motors was preparing to introduce a new two-door S-10 based Blazer, prompting AMC to devise an entirely new four-door model. Gerald C. Meyers, AMC's CEO at the time, then hired one of Ford's best engineers, Roy Lunn, to create what was later called the Quadra-Link suspension. François Castaing was also given the job of constructing the drivetrain, using a smaller engine, than normal, in 4WD vehicles, in order to reduce the model's overall weight.
The XJ Cherokee was available in two- and four-door versions that shared exactly the same track and wheelbase measurements. To differentiate the two, the two-door model featured longer doors and foldable front seats that allowed for easier access into the rear. The two-door model also had longer windows that did not open, although an optional vent window was offered. The Jeep Wagoneer was an XJ variation that was created from 1984 to 1990 and came in two trim levels: the regular Wagoneer and the Wagoneer Limited, the latter of which was adorned with vinyl wood trim.
The XJ Cherokee was eventually released in Europe in 1992 for some markets and 1993 for the United Kingdom. Early models featured a 4.0 L (242 CID) six-cylinder engine, while the 2.5 L (150 CID) option was added in 1995. When American Motors was acquired by Chrysler the company had initially planned to discontinue the XJ in favor of a larger model known as the XJC (which was later named the Jeep Grand Cherokee when released in 1993). However, due to the continuous popularity of the model, the decision was reversed. The XJ Chevy remains a staple for many off-roading enthusiasts, who still benefit from its strong aftermarket support that offers a range of upgrades.
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