Jeep XJ
XJ History

My Jeep

XJ History

Over the years, I've picked up quite a lot of sometimes-important information about the Jeep XJ Cherokee. Sometimes it's useful, other times it's mundane trivia. However, I often get questions about the differences between various Cherokees, or questions about the equipment that came with the Cherokees. The original data used in this page came from Ilovejeeps.com but I recall that the info there had built on another page from someone else, etc. I'm going to continue that and add what info I have as I go along...


The Jeep XJ Cherokee was produced between 1984-2001 in the United States. During the eighteen years of production, nearly three million (2,884,172) Cherokees were built, and from what I understand, they always sold every one of them soon after. This is unlike some other manufacturers that you hear advertising 'new' vehicles that are a year or more out of date...

Originally designed and built by American Motors (AMC), Chrysler continued the same design when they bought AMC in 1987. The first "sport utility vehicle", the Cherokee led to a market full of imitators. Due to that, the name "SUV" has been diluted into nothingness and seems to apply to any 4x4 station wagon, regardless of whether it actually has any offroad capability or not. Throughout the 18 years of production, the Cherokee remained very capable offroad and is truly sporty and utilitarian at the same time.

The information here should be of some help in identifying what parts came with what year Cherokee. Like the previous authors, I have made every effort to make sure this information is correct by comparing data from a variety of sources. If you notice any errors or have additional information to contribute, please let me know.

Common Design
Production Numbers and Trim levels
Transfer Cases
Cooling System

All XJs were built as a "Unibody" design with the body and frame rails tied together as one piece as opposed to a body on frame design. All XJs have solid axles front and rear. The suspension consists of coils for the front and leaf springs for the rear. All XJs came with disc brakes in the front and drums in the rear.


(small differences may occur depending on optional equipment or trim level)

  • wheelbase = 101.4" - same for 2-door and 4-door versions
  • overall length = 165.3" - 169.2"
  • overall width = 67.9" - 70.5"
  • track = 58"
  • height = 64"
  • height with roof rack = 66.8"
  • ground clearance (from differentials) = 7.3" - 8.3"
  • approach angle = 37.6* - 38*
  • departure angle = 31* - 32.1*
  • breakover angle = 21* - 21.9*
  • curb weight 2wd = 2,891 lbs - 2,993 lbs
  • curb weight 4wd = 3,057 lbs - 3,386 lbs
  • cargo capacity = 71.0 cu ft.
     cargo capacity seems to have varied over the years, growing slightly smaller as the Cherokee aged.


Year Number Built Available trim Levels
1984    93,326 84 - Base, Wagoneer, Pioneer, Chief
1985  120,328 85 - Base, Wagoneer, Pioneer, Chief, Laredo
1986  107,225 86 - Base, Wagoneer, Pioneer, Chief, Laredo
1987  187,136 87 - Base, Wagoneer, Pioneer, Chief, Laredo, Limited
1988  187,136 88 - Base, Wagoneer, Pioneer, Chief, Laredo, Limited, Sport
1989  207,216 89 - Base, Wagoneer, Pioneer, Chief, Laredo, Limited, Sport
1990  151,230 90 - Base, Wagoneer, Pioneer, Chief, Laredo, Limited, Sport
1991  151,578 91 - Base, Briarwood, Chief, Laredo, Limited, Sport
1992  137,826 92 - Base, Briarwood, Chief, Laredo, Limited, Sport
1993  144,961 93 - Base, Sport, Country
1994  123,391 94 - SE, Sport, Country
1995  120,234 95 - SE, Sport, Country
1996  286,463 96 - SE, Sport, Country
1997  258,958 97 - SE, Sport, Country
1998  182,845 98 - SE, Sport, Classic, Limited
1999  186,116 99 - SE, Sport, Classic, Limited
2000  165,590 00 - SE, Sport, Classic, Limited, Freedom
2001  120,454 01 - Sport, Limited, 60th Anniversary Edition
18 years  2,932,013 XJs produced


The body comes in both 2-door and 4-door styles with a rear hatch (liftgate), and there is no difference in body length or seating location between the two, although the 2-door versions have a flip-forward design to the front seats.

In 1994 side-impact beams were added in the doors and roof was strengthened. The 3rd brakelight was added to the liftgate, at the bottom of the window.

In 1996 the body structure was strengthened some including changes to reduce NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) although there were no changes in external appearance. Some of the NVH enhancements included the addition of a main bearing girdle in the engine to strengthen and quiet the 4.0L motor.

In 1997 the body and interior were redesigned to freshen them up a bit. Most noticeably the redesign gave the body smoother lines by changing the bumpers, flares, and moldings. The front fender was trimmed just below the headlights and replaced with plastic bumper endcaps that wrap around to the wheel well. The liftgate was also changed from fiberglass to sheet metal in this year, and the third brakelight was moved to the top of the liftgate. The windshield washer bottle was also moved to the inside of the drivers side front fender - this causes problems for some owners who trim the fenders or move their flares higher, as they frequently drill through the washer bottle.



Jeep Cherokee engines can be broken into three classes - 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder, and Diesel.
2.5L I4 carbureted
105 hp @ 5000 rpm
132 ft lb torque @ 2800 rpm
Used in 84-85 models
GM 2.8L V6 carbureted
115 hp @ 4800 rpm
145 ft lb @ 2400 rpm
used in 84-86
2.5L I4 TBI (fuel injected)
117 hp @ 5000 rpm
135 ftlb @ 3500 rpm
Used in 86 and updated in 87-90 to 121hp
2.5L I4 MPI (multi-port injection)
130 hp @ 5250 rpm
139 ft lb @ 3250 rpm
used in 91-00
4.0L I6 "Power Tech" Renix
177 hp @ 4750 rpm
224 ft lb @ 2400 rpm/220lbft @ 2000rpm
used 87-90
  4.0L I6 MPI "Power Tech HO" (High Output)
190 hp @ 4750 rpm
225 ft lb @ 3,950 rpm
used in 91-95
  4.0L I6 MPI "Power Tech HO" (High Output)
190 hp @ 4600 rpm
225 ft lb @ 3,000 rpm
used in 96-99 (added OBDII)
  4.0L I6 MPI "Power Tech HO" (High Output)
193 hp @ 4600 rpm
231 ft lb @ 3,000 rpm
Used in 00-01 w/ distributorless ignition
Renault 2.1L 4cyl Turbo Diesel
85 hp @ 3750 rpm
132 ft lb @ 2750 rpm
used in 85-87
Italian VM 2.5L Turbo Diesel
140 hp
236 ft lb torque
used in overseas XJs




Manual Automatic
4 speed manual
manufactured by Aisin-Warner
used 84-86 with 2.5L I4 and 2.8L V6 engines
Torqueflight 904 (904LU)
3 speed automatic
used 84-86 with 2.8L V6 engine and 2.5L I4
5 speed manual
manufactured by Aisin-Warner
used with 2.8L V6 and 87+ with 2.5L I4
3 speed automatic
used with 2.5L I4 engine 94?-00
5 speed manual
manufactured by Peugot
Used until mid-89 model year behind 4.0L I6 engines
4 speed automatic
electronically controlled - manufactured by Aisin/Warner
used from 87-01
   87-91 models include a Power/Comfort button that adjusts the shift points.
   92-01 models were hard-wired into Power mode
   Pre 91 AW-4 used a .705 OD, 91-up AW-4= .75
5 speed manual
manufactured by Aisin
used with 4.0L I6 engines after mid-89 through 99
5 speed manual
manufactured by New Venture
used in 00-01 in SE models with 4.0L I6 engines



The transfer cases used are all chain driven with aluminum housings. NP stood for "New Process", which was the manufacturer. During the Cherokee production run, the company changed their name to New Venture Gear, so product names also changed, to NVGxxx. It's the same transfer case, just with a different name.

NP207 "Command-Trac"
part-time only
2.61:1 low range
used 84-87

NP231 "Command-Trac"
Part-time only
2.72:1 ratio low range
shift pattern 2H - 4H - N - 4L
used 87-01

NP228/NP229 "Selec-Trac"
4Hi(full-time) - N - 4Lo (part-time)
used 84-87

NP242 "Selec-Trac"
Part-time OR full-time
2.72:1 ratio low range
shift pattern 2wd - 4part-time - 4full-time - N - 4LO
used 87-01

The NP231 (and 242?) t-case will have one of two input shafts. From 87-90 it will have a 21-spline input. From 92-01 it will be 23-spline. However, '91 was a transition year so if the XJ has a manual tranny it is an AX-15 and 23 spline shaft. If it is an auto it's an AW-4 with a 21 spline shaft.



Front Driveshaft - The front is a "double cardan" two-piece driveshaft with a CV joint at the transfer case end.

There was a "pop-can" style of front driveshaft used on at least some 84-86 XJs. This CV joint was more bulky than the newer double-cardan joint and tended to wear out much faster.

Rear Driveshaft - The rear is a one-piece shaft with a single standard u-joint at each end. The slip yoke is located on the output shaft of the transfer case.

On 84-95 models, the yoke slides in and out of the transfer case and is lubricated by the ATF fluid internally.

On 96-01 due to a design change, the slip yoke is external and is outside a seal on the rear output shaft. This slip yoke is covered with a rubber boot.

'96-01 rear driveshaft



Front Axles

Dana 30 high pinion
Reverse cut (stronger in front axle application)
27 spline, 1.16" diameter shafts
7.13" ring gear
5-260x or 5-297x u-joints
Used 1984-99

Dana 30 low pinion
Standard cut
27 spline, 1.16" diameter shafts
7.13" ring gear
5-297x u-joints
Used 2000-01

If all other factors are the same, a Reverse-cut (high-pinion) front axle will be stronger than the same axle with a low-pinion.

Conversely, in a rear axle application, the low-pinion axle will be stronger.

  • Dana 30 axles with the NP231, 1987 through 1991 are vacuum disconnect
  • NP242 Selec-Trac will not have the disconnect
  • All 1992+ are non-disconnect
  • All 84-88 D30s have 5-260x u-joints (1 1/16" diameter caps)
  • 1989-95 non-ABS have 5-260x u-joints
  • 1989-95 with ABS have 5-297x u-joints (1 3/16" diameter caps)
  • All 1995 1/2+ have 5-297x u-joints
  • 5-297x u-joints can be replaced with the stronger 5-760x u-joint

Rear Axles

Note on Dana 35 axles sometimes referred to as Dana 35C - The "C" does not stand for c-clip. It stands for "custom" meaning it came from Dana as a "custom" or unfinished assembly, to be completed by the manufacturer.

Dana 35 non c-clip

  • 27 spline, 1.18" diameter shafts
  • 7.58" ring gear
  • 2.62" axle tube
  • May or may not be ABS-equipped
  • used 1984-89

Dana 35 c-clip

  • 27 spline, 1.18" diameter shafts
  • 7.58" ring gear
  • 2.62" axle tube
  • May or may not be ABS-equipped
  • (After 1991, ABS-equipped XJs will have the D35. Non-ABS will have the C8.25)
  • Used 1990-01
Dana 35 rear axle

Note on C8.25 axles - none of these axles were used on XJs with ABS brakes. If you have ABS, you have the Dana 35. Without ABS you could have either axle. C8.25 axles are all equipped with c-clips holding the axleshaft in the carrier.

Chrysler 8.25 (1991-1996)
• 27 spline, 1.17" diameter shafts
• 8.25" ring gear
• 3.00" axle tube

Chrysler 8.25 (late 1996-2001)
• 29 spline, 1.21" diameter shafts
• 8.25" ring gear
• 3.00" axle tube

Chrysler 8.25 axle


Dana 44 non c-clip
• 30 spline, 1.31" diameter shafts
• 8.5" ring gear
• 2.75" axle tube
• Used 1987-89, typically on XJs equipped with towing package.

Note - the D44 is a rare upgrade axle, and is more commonly found on the 1987 with a few reports of 1988 or 89 models with the D44. The D35 is far more common in the 87-89 model years.




3.07 - used with 4.0L engine / manual transmission
3.31 - rare, only available on older (pre87?) 2 door XJs with "Fuel Economy" package
3.55 - used with 4.0L engine / automatic transmission
3.73 - found in some XJs with the towing package including some 4-cyl
4.10 - used with 2.5L engine usually, and older XJs with the "Off-Highway Vehicle" package.
4.56 - very rare, found in some early (84-86?) 4-cyl XJs and MJs



Open style - The normally-expected cooling system including a radiator cap. The radiator has a pressure cap that seals the system; excess pressure is released into a catchcan that can also act to siphon coolant back into the block when the engine cooled. Used since 1991 with the XJ. Opposite of closed style described below.

Closed style - has no radiator cap and utilizes a pressure bottle that is mounted near the firewall on the passenger side. This style cooling system was used in 87-90 (and some early 91s?) XJs with the 4.0L I6. The pressure bottle tends to crack, especially at the lower fitting or around the cap. Methods to address this problem are found on my cooling page.



Drivers side airbag (mechanical) was added in 94. The steering column changed at this point as well, going to a Chrysler one-key system and column.

The Passenger side airbag was added with the redesign in 97. Airbags changed from mechanical to electronically controlled in this year also.



XJ driveshaft u-joints (F+R) are Spicer 1310, aka Spicer 5-153X
Axle u-joints, 5-297x and the older 5-260x are c-clip retained and the 1310s are snap ring retained.
The 5-297x can be upgraded to a stronger 5-760x, using the same axleshafts.

5-260x u-joints are 1 1/16" diameter across the cap.
5-297x u-joints are 1 3/16" diameter across the cap.

The third taillight was added to the bottom of the rear hatch glass in '93 or '94 - moved to the top of the glass in '97 with the new, metal hatch.


e-mail Jim
created: June 24, 2005

Updated Sept 23, 2008