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Unread Yesterday, 04:26 PM   #1
lacofdfireman
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What year did they make major improvements on XJ

Hope I don't get flamed for asking this especially since this is my first post. I check the FAQ's and when searching it's to long of a search word resulting in to many topics that I don't care about that have nothing to do with what I am looking for...

I would like to know what year they made major changes to the XJ that would warrant me looking to purchase that year or newer. Looking at purchasing my first ever Jeep. I want something that I can drive to the store and maybe a few hundred miles to do some wheeling. I'm not looking for a full blown crawler but more of an all arounder. Hoping to find something under the $6k mark that has most of what I would like to have done already done. Kinda a turnkey Cherokee if ya know what I mean. Something with a lift of 3-4.5" lift and not beat to crap. This will not be my daily driver but my fun machine. I moved to St. George, UT a few years ago and this is an incredible place for wheelin.. Have cash burning a hole in my pocket so hoping to pick up something soon. We are also going to Moab for Memorial day so hopefully I will have something by then. Also plan on towing it behind the motorhome.

So if there are any years that are better than others help me out. Seems like I have heard that I need to get a 99 or newer. Also I don't have any idea what sets the Grand's apart from the XJ's either beside more Power stuff. But to me that's just more stuff to have issues with. Meanwhile I'll keep reading and seeing if I can find info on my own. If anyone has any good links etc for me to read I'm all ears. Looking forward to a new Hobby.

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Unread Yesterday, 04:35 PM   #2
lacofdfireman
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Never mind I found a few good threads on it. It seems that the 98 and newer seems to be the ones people like the best. Ok now back to craigslist to keep searching...
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Unread Yesterday, 05:18 PM   #3
mschi772
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It doesn't go into any detail about what changes were made and when, but here's an old post of mine that I find myself quoting quite often. When I was shopping for an XJ, I would have been happy with ANY year, but I did have my fingers crossed for something 91-96 and maybe even 95-96 specifically.

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Originally Posted by mschi772 View Post
Guys whose only advice to you is "buy a 99" aren't really helping you much. Some of them just blindly regurgitate that because they read it somewhere when researching Jeeps, and they don't even know why. There are some reasons that 99 is a particularly favored year, but it might be that NONE of them matter to YOU. I mean, what do you want to do with your Cherokee? Is it just going to be a daily driver? Will you wheel it? If so, how often? How hard? What kind (mud, sand, rocks)? Are there any particular modifications/upgrades you'd want to do to it?

I think some people's obsession with 99 is a bit disrespectful to how great all the other XJ's are. Even the 00 and 01 XJ's are worthy of respect that is often denied to them by many. You really can't lose. Many minor and some major changes were made between 84 and 01. I'm sure you can find a list of all the changes out there somewhere; I know I found that info myself once upon a time.

Aside from the normal stuff to look out for with ANY used car, be aware that 84-86 XJ's had GM engines that pale in comparison to the 4.0 of 87-01 (I'm just ignoring the 4 cyl engines that some XJ's had). The pre-91 Renix systems are a bit ... "special" and simply something to be aware of and ready to work with if you're looking at one. 00-01 4.0's have a head with a casting flaw that may or may not crack between cyl 3 and 4. Many of them never crack (or at least haven't after hundreds of thousands of miles), but many do. It's something to watch-out for but not something that should keep you away completely, and you should be aware that identical heads without the casting flaw are out there should you have a crack. The manual trannies are solid as are the autos. The two possible transfer cases are both great. There are a variety of rear ends each with their own advantages and disadvantages, and unless you're planning on doing lots of wheeling, even the weakest of the bunch (D35) will be just peachy. The floor pans are easily the most susceptible to rust on all years. Because of the limited space for a radiator, XJ's are just barely able to maintain their operating temperature, so you have very little room to slack on maintaining the cooling system; luckily the cooling system is a reliable as any other part of the 4.0, so it's not likely to require much work (and any work will be relatively cheap). The stock exhaust manifold cracks easily which can impact the performance and efficiency of your engine negatively. APN makes a replacement header that is a very affordable replacement should you ever need/want one (there are other header options out there as well).

It is my opinion that if you get an XJ with a 4.0 from 91-99, you have virtually nothing but cheap regular maintenance to worry about. If you get an 00 or 01, you just have to make sure to never overheat it (as if you'd ever be OK with overheating any engine), and to pay closer attention to the oil and coolant "health."
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Unread Yesterday, 05:44 PM   #4
lacofdfireman
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MSCHI

Thank you so much for the post. I guess I drank the 99 Koolaid a little to much and have been obsessed all afternoon about finding a 99. Now that I know the earlier 90's will be ok that opens a lot of doors also. Like I said I'm not against getting a Grand Cherokee either but from what I understand they are the more luxurious of the Cherokees which to me means more Electrical which equals more possible problems.

What I want from a Cherokee is a good driver with some off road performance. Like I said I don't plan on taking it on the Rubicon or Maze trail here by my house but I would still like to have a reliable and capable setup. If those to words together are possible. Reliable and capable.. Also good A/C is a must. It get's HOT where I live..
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Unread Yesterday, 06:17 PM   #5
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mschi772 summed it up well for you. From my experience try to stay away from the pre 90's. I love my 89 but she can be a pain in the ***, because of the Renix era electronics. Also its harder to find parts for pre 90's. I've had to modify a lot of things on my jeep to run newer 1990+ components, i.e. braking system.
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Unread Yesterday, 06:30 PM   #6
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I have a few other questions. Seems there are about 5-1 Grand Cherokees to XJ type Cherokee's for sale from what I am seeing. Was that a supply and demand issue? Like the Grand's just plain sold better than the Sport so there is more of them out there? Are the Grand's just a capable? Also which ones have better head room? I'm 6'5 so I gotta be able to fit inside. Either of them have more head and leg room than the others?
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Unread Yesterday, 07:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lacofdfireman View Post
MSCHI

Thank you so much for the post. I guess I drank the 99 Koolaid a little to much and have been obsessed all afternoon about finding a 99. Now that I know the earlier 90's will be ok that opens a lot of doors also. Like I said I'm not against getting a Grand Cherokee either but from what I understand they are the more luxurious of the Cherokees which to me means more Electrical which equals more possible problems.

What I want from a Cherokee is a good driver with some off road performance. Like I said I don't plan on taking it on the Rubicon or Maze trail here by my house but I would still like to have a reliable and capable setup. If those to words together are possible. Reliable and capable.. Also good A/C is a must. It get's HOT where I live..
I'd have been happy with a ZJ or WJ too, but I found my XJ first. The WJ would have to have been a 4.0 since I'm not too fond of the 4.7 V8. A ZJ could be a 4.0, 5.2, or 5.9--they're all great. The Grands' trannies aren't as reliable as the AW4 (93 ZJ with 4.0 did have an AW4 actually), but they're fine. There are stories out there that seem to suggest that Grands have electrical gremlins more than the XJ, but not to any degree that would keep ME away.

I can think of numerous vehicles (not all Jeeps) that are reliable and capable especially for--but not limited to--the uses you're talking about. The XJ is my fav because it's cheap and easy to work on in addition to its reliability and capability, but I'm no stranger to Suzuki Sidekick/Vitara/Grand Vitara and Geo/Chevy Tracker; they're also reliable and capable (not always as easy to work on, though).
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Wheels wanted to buy:
4 or 5 Turbines, old XJ 5-slot,
KJ 17x7.5 6-spoke, or KJ 16x7 5-spoke alloy

Paying ~$50 per wheel--Classified ad HERE
Have 4 (oxidized) Lace and 5 Eccos for potential trade
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Unread Yesterday, 07:47 PM   #8
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It's like that around here too. XJs are older and more sought after as they get harder to find. Meanwhile there are still plenty of Grands left and people don't want them as much so they're had cheaply.

Grands are about as reliable though the transfer case and axle options weren't as good as XJs and they're not as ideal for building a rig out of. 5.2 isn't as reliable as a 4.0 but they're good motors that don't have a lot of problems and they're cheap to replace and work on because Chrysler used them in a ton of different vehicles for over a decade.

If you want a solid DD that's still off road capable find a good 4.0 WJ. They're very comfortable, will last as long as any other 4.0 Jeep, cheap to work on and maintain and they don't have many issues and even fewer expensive ones.
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Unread Yesterday, 07:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lacofdfireman View Post
I have a few other questions. Seems there are about 5-1 Grand Cherokees to XJ type Cherokee's for sale from what I am seeing. Was that a supply and demand issue? Like the Grand's just plain sold better than the Sport so there is more of them out there? Are the Grand's just a capable? Also which ones have better head room? I'm 6'5 so I gotta be able to fit inside. Either of them have more head and leg room than the others?
I'm 6'1" and fine in my XJ. I know of some taller guys than me around here who are happy, and I've seen fussing from guys my height and a little shorter, so you'll just have to see how you like the fit for yourself. A ZJ will have more room than an XJ, and a WJ will have even more than that.

ZJs and WJs are just as capable. I don't know how many Grand Cherokees were made, but from 84-01, 2.3 million XJs were made, so they were quite the opposite of rare. They're more sought-after in the used market due to being more appealing to off-roaders due to their slightly simpler design, more classic styling, and much larger aftermarket support. ZJs and WJs have plenty of aftermarket toys to choose from, but XJs have more.

XJ's are getting rarer faster due to crashes, salt belt rust, off-roaders abuse, and things like Cash-4-Clunkers all destroying them. The same things all affect Grands but to a lesser extent I wager.

For your purposes, they're all as capable as you need and then some and all get roughly the same sort of insurance rates and gas mileage, so shop based on your personal taste, the condition of the vehicle, and the quality of the deal being offered.

P.S. I need to make sure that you know that Cherokee and Grand Cherokee are NOT the same model. They're different models that coexisted from 93-01.
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Wheels wanted to buy:
4 or 5 Turbines, old XJ 5-slot,
KJ 17x7.5 6-spoke, or KJ 16x7 5-spoke alloy

Paying ~$50 per wheel--Classified ad HERE
Have 4 (oxidized) Lace and 5 Eccos for potential trade
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Unread Yesterday, 08:01 PM   #10
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zj's can be a blast, but you need to search the dirty dozen and be familiar with it if you get one. they ride smooth and the 4.0's do decent on the gas, but aftermarket support will cost you more then it would for an xj.
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Unread Yesterday, 08:02 PM   #11
lacofdfireman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mschi772 View Post

P.S. I need to make sure that you know that Cherokee and Grand Cherokee are NOT the same model. They're different models that coexisted from 93-01.
Yes I know they are totally different body styles. And correct me if I am wrong the Grands have a few more creature comforts than the XJ's. Isn't that their differences? Body style and Features? I would imagine Engine, transmission and drive train are the close to the same between Grand's and XJ's? But maybe I am wrong there also...
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Unread Yesterday, 08:24 PM   #12
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Where is the place most of you shop for Aftermarket for the XJ's? I know there has to be a few favorites out there. I'm talking for Lifts, Bumpers, Roof Racks etc?
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Unread Yesterday, 10:56 PM   #13
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I would imagine Engine, transmission and drive train are the close to the same between Grand's and XJ's? But maybe I am wrong there also...
Engine yes (if you get the 4.0L I6) the rest of the drive train not so much.

The auto transmission in the XJ with the 4.0L I6 is the Aisin-Warner AW4 (virtually identical to the Aisin A340 used in 90s Toyota 4-Runners, Tacomas, etc.), the ZJ/WJ with the 4.0L I6 use the Chrysler 42RE (except early 93 ZJs which also have the AW4) which is less reliable (still not terrible if maintained though, but don't expect it to go 300k mi without a rebuild like AW4s routinely do), the XJ was also available with a manual (some early ZJs had a manual option but they are extremely rare).

The XJ transfer case options were the NP231(part-time) and NP242(part-time/full-time) while the ZJ also had the NP249 as an option (standard on V8 models) which is always in 4WD (no 2WD option) and has a failure-prone viscous coupling. The WJ used either the NP242 or NV247 which is always 4WD like the NP249 but has a gerotor center differential instead of the viscous coupling (though still not as good as the planetary gear center diff in the NP242).

The XJ rear axles include the Dana 35, Chrysler 8.25", and Dana 44 (early models with the towing package). The ZJ/WJ used the Dana 35 or Dana 44a (the "a" stands for "aluminum", the D44a is not much stronger than the D35, the Chrysler 8.25" and steel D44 on the XJ are both much stronger than the D35 or D44a).

99 and older XJs had a Dana 30 High-Pinion front axle, 00-01 XJs had a Dana 30 Low Pinion, ZJs/WJs have the Dana 30 Low Pinion (if you keep it stock height this really doesn't matter, but the D30LP will allow for less lift before running into drive-line angle issues).
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Unread Today, 04:21 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lacofdfireman
I have a few other questions. Seems there are about 5-1 Grand Cherokees to XJ type Cherokee's for sale from what I am seeing. Was that a supply and demand issue? Like the Grand's just plain sold better than the Sport so there is more of them out there? Are the Grand's just a capable? Also which ones have better head room? I'm 6'5 so I gotta be able to fit inside. Either of them have more head and leg room than the others?

I'm 6'7 and my only complaint is when I slam my head into the door frame getting in or out. Which is rare. You learn to avoid that rather quickly
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