The D family just returned from ten days in the Southwestern States, and amongst all the other great scenery, I really enjoyed looking at all the CC Jeep Cherokees.
I really admire the old AMC-designed XJ Cherokees, the 1986 – 2001 classics that more or less kicked off the whole SUV craze. Unfortunately, being from the Toronto area I have pretty much missed the boat on owning one for a daily driver. Around here, serviceable Cherokees are few and far between, as they tended to rust out at the rocker panels and then the suspension mounting points. The few that remain seem to all get lifted, hacked and mudded, so it was a real pleasure to see all kinds of stock XJ’s still doing their jobs twenty or so years after they left the factory, and long past the demise of AMC.
Here’s a typical example that shared our parking lot in Flagstaff, AZ. No special care, no obvious major repairs, no goofy mods, just someone’s driver with a couple of bicycles hanging off the back. The underside of this XJ was so clean you could eat off it; not a speck of corrosion.
It brought tears to my eyes as I beckoned to my family, “Look at this, just look…” Mrs DougD actually did get down and look; she admitted that, “yes it was very nice, but no, I couldn’t take it home.” Besides, the actual owner was obviously still using it and it was an automatic. I’d much rather have the 5-speed transmission.
For comparison, our rental car for this trip was a Jeep Compass. It did hold four people and their luggage (piled to the ceiling), and the somewhat thrashy four cylinder engine returned amazing mileage across those wide open spaces. We liked the simple layout of the controls and the low rental rate; for the most part it’s a pretty reasonable small vehicle. However I can’t imagine buying one because the outward visibility is horrible. I sort of got used to it after a week, and if you were driving alone on an interstate across the desert it was OK, but in town it was a menace. Turning corners had me bobbing my head from side to side, making sure that light posts, pedestrians and whole cars weren’t hiding behind the thick A-pillars. Shoulder checks only confirmed the continued existence of B-pillars and headrests.
So my Jeep verdict is, I’d rather be upside down in the Compass, but the XJ Cherokee is still preferred for right side up use.