1999 Jeep Cherokee XJ

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1999 Jeep Cherokee XJ
RCR Jeep Cherokee XJ Thumb.jpg
Car Details
Make Jeep
Model Cherokee XJ
Year 1999
Owner @theswagger (Twitter)
Episode Details
Episode Link Watch
Season YouTube Partner
Air Date May 5, 2014
Credits Giacomo

Jeep XJ, the last car to be a true bushwhacker. Driving one is an experience so saturated with nostalgia, Buzzfeed is probably writing an article about it as you're watching this.


Mh! No snorkel! Interesting.


to the tune of 'Dry Your Eyes' by The Streets

Dry your eyes mate,
I know it's hard to see a Jeep that's not Trail Rated,
There's plenty more fish in the sea...

Dry your eyes mate,
I know that inline-six was just your favorite engine,
But it's time to walk away now,
It's over...



There's a generational dissonance with the Jeep Cherokee Classic, birth from the rib of the Wagoneer of the early 1960s. The Cherokee took after its father, a large truck-based wagon with four-wheel drive, but sportier, as sons tend to be when in the shadow of a father who belligerently shouts things from the sidelines. By 1974, the Cherokee was ready for the father-son picnic. Initially available only as a two-door, the Cherokee still offered an identical wheelbase and length as the Wagoneer, but for a cheaper price. Once little champ hit puberty and became a four-door in 1977, daddy was put in the automotive old folks' home, the Wagoneer now feeling the sting of obsolescence. The Cherokee was the big boy now, he no longer sought daddy's approval or his loving embrace with the scratchy kisses or a hoarse pronunciation of "I love you son, you done good". In fact, Cherokee had a son of his own now to fret over.

The 1984 Cherokee was nothing like dad or grandpa, except for sharing the family DNA. This new Cherokee had a shorter wheelbase, amounting to 7 inches less than the traditional model. Sonny Boy was also much lighter, around 3,100 pounds, which made it far better for fuel economy and maneuverability along with increased visibility, making for a better experience overall. This was the model that endured for nearly 15 years, past grandpa's retirement, past Sega Channel, past Cinnabon MiniBons cereal. But in 1997, Jeep upgraded the Cherokee to the tune of 215 million, changing everything from body moldings and wheelbase to reduce noise, vibrations and harshness levels. The mid-'90s model also had a new dash, new gauges and a center stack with controls for the stereo with both cassette and CD players. 

Jeep also integrated the engine refinements from the year prior, as four- and six-cylinder engines were augmented not only to run smoother, but quieter as well. That old AMC straight-six still chugging away. I could revisit old jokes, but it's not appropriate now. Man, that engine has longevity! There were also upgrades to the electrical system, such as improved connectors. I mean, that's totally a Mopar thing, improved connectors. And a reduced amount of wiring, which brings us to this: the 1999 Jeep Cherokee Classic grandson is now granddad, looking outmoded in a culture that's passed him by.

Make no mistake, this is a classic. Top-of-the-line Jeep from the days before Jeep needed a badge indicating it was Trail Rated. These Jeeps just... were, and it was understood. The Trail Rated designation is just a marketing gimmick, really, and it's one of those decisions that deserves to be questioned. It's not like digital dashboards or automatic dimming headlights, where it's a lousy idea that's just barely smart enough to sound like a good one, this was something wholly disconnected from sober thought processes. How does a Jeep even need to be Trail Rated? Does this imply that some vehicles aren't? And if so, how does that even happen? How could any manufacturer be so unfazed by the ruthless indifference of nature? 

In leaving it so deep in the dust, the Jeep Cherokee Classic has become a relic of sorts, a totem of a more honest America, a pre-9/11 US that had a sense of humor about itself and didn't dedicate 70% of its energy toward militant patriotism and other difference-excluding practices. It's an America that had no trouble holding itself to a certain standard to calling itself to account. It's from the days when a country had to earn the patriotism of its citizens, as opposed to assuming it intrinsically. It's a fossil from the days before the rhetoric of the exclusion took hold, before the rest of the world took stock of America's righteousness and found it hollow. This Jeep is the slayer of downvote culture. It doesn't care about what you think of it, it just is.

The Jeep Cherokee Classic, the official car of furrowed brows and steel-cut oats. It's the original Bushwacker, for like and Steely Dan, King Crimson, the Allman Brothers Band and four good minutes of missionary. It's a car for the formless deity whose purview is the American experience. It's an experience so saturated with nostalgia, BuzzFeed is probably writing an article about it as you're watching this. The Jeep Cherokee Classic is looking at you kid, and he's saying "I love you son, you done good" and then he hands you a cold Yuengling.



This probably isn't even visible from the outside of the car *shakes the steering wheel* doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doot doo-doo-doot doo-doo-doot doo-doo-doot...


to the tune of (???)

This Cherokee isn't unreliable Land Rover,
RCR bring that Illinois, Hanover,
One of these day's we're gonna get banned over,
Being questionable content for Reddit mods to scan over...