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The Jeep Cherokee can find its roots all the way back to 1974. Although sharing the almost exact platform as the Wagoneer initially, the Jeep Cherokee went through a major design change starting in the 1984 model. With a smaller wheel base and shorter overall length, the new model quickly gained popularity for its versatile off-road capability and better fuel mileage. Customers had the option of picking up either a two or four door model.

The standard Jeep Cherokee engine [] started out as an anemic 2.5 liter four cylinder engine while a more stout 2.8 V-6 was available at an additional cost. While the four cylinder Jeep Cherokee engine was only available with a 4-speed manual transmission, the V-6 had the option of either a 3-speed automatic, 4-speed manual or the highly touted 5-speed manual box. Both the v-6 and four cylinder models had the option of two four-wheel drive systems.

In 1997, the Jeep Cherokee received a major redesign through 2001. More refinements were made to the interior and electrical system. In the final model year, the more powerful and smoother inline six cylinder was borrowed from the Grand Cherokee model.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee as we know it today was introduced back in 1993. Originally, the Grand Cherokee was designed and marketed as more luxurious competitor against Ford's highly popular Explorer. Many creature comforts were available for this model such as power windows, door locks, sunroof, heated mirrors and seats. The most powerful Jeep Grand Cherokee engine for the first generation was the 5.2 liter V-8 power plant boasting 225 horsepower with a respectable 300 foot-pounds of torque. The base Jeep Grand Cherokee engine was the ever popular 4.0 liter inline six similar to the Jeep Cherokee's.

The '94 through '96 models saw many improvements to available trim packages and engine power. Quadra-Trac became standard on all Grand Cherokee models as the preferred four-wheel drive system. Dual air bags also became standard in the 1996 model. In 1998 the more powerful 5.9 liter magnum v-8 was added to the Jeep Grand Cherokee engine lineup.

The model received a complete redesign in 1999. The Grand Cherokee was now 4 inches longer and sleeker looking than previous models. The aging 5.2 liter Jeep Grand Cherokee engine was replaced by the all new 4.7 overhead cam variation which produced up to 265 horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque for the high output version. Both a four and a five speed automatic transmission were standard on the V-8 models as well as the inline six cylinder motors.
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Starting in 2005, the Jeep Grand Cherokee saw another major facelift. Replacement of the solid axle drive train in favor of an independent setup gave the
jeep grand Cherokee engine a softer more refined ride. More engine options became available including the notable 6.1 liter Hemi V-8 seen in the all new SRT package making it one of the fastest sport utility vehicles in production.
History of the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee
by Peter Jones

Many different trim packages were available through the years. The most notable being the Limited introduced in 1987, the 4.0 liter inline six cylinder jeep Cherokee engine became the power plant of choice with more power and reliability. With the introduction of many different engine advancements, horsepower figures grew throughout the second generation Cherokees.