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Future models - Jeep - Cherokee

First look: Cherokee dons war paint

Fronting up: A more aggressive nose distinguishes the 2005 Cherokee facelift.

Jeep addresses its soft-core Cherokee image with a mechanical manicure

15 Apr 2004

DAIMLERCHRYSLER has released details of its facelifted Jeep Cherokee range.

Due locally in the last quarter of this year, the compact 4WD wagon’s makeover is virtually all visual, with minor interior titivations and a gutsier turbo-diesel engine also included.

Altered most is the controversially soft appearance of the current Cherokee’s cherubic face for a look that’s more “vintage Jeep”, according to the company press release.

To that end, there’s a squared-off front incorporating a higher-set and chromed grille flanked by new compact driving lights, a flatter bonnet, extended front wheel arches (that now house the indicators) and redesigned bumpers with a revised air intake.

Redesigned tail-lights and body side mouldings are the only other main exterior changes.

The range-topping Renegade model scores some visual differentiation from its less expensive siblings by taking the tough look a step further with its large freestanding fog lights, body coloured grille, tail-light guards, grey bumpers and wheel arches, prominent roof racks, extra skid plates and wider tyres.

9 center image Inside, all 2005 Cherokees feature minor trim modifications that include new fabrics, revised instrumentation graphics, relocated power window switches and, mysteriously, something described as “improved seat comfort” in the press release.

Although available in Australian-bound Cherokees since September 1997, a turbo-diesel engine option has eluded North American buyers until now. To mark the event, DaimlerChrysler has massaged the Mercedes-sourced 110kW/360Nm 2.8-litre twin cam 16-valve four-cylinder turbo-diesel CRD unit that debuted here in early 2003 to produce 10kW more power and 40Nm of extra torque.

But there is no word on any dynamic progress, with the current model’s coil spring independent front suspension and link-coil rear suspension appearing to remain unchanged.

The KJ Cherokee’s mid-cycle makeover has materialised three years after the model’s 2001 Detroit motor show debut.

In America it has struggled to sell at the original forecast levels despite being bigger, roomier, sturdier, much more comfortable and far safer than its 20 year-old XJ-platform predecessor.

The Cherokee name first appeared in the US in 1974 as a sporty two-door variation of the 1962-vintage J-series Wagoneer by the now-defunct American Motors Corporation. A four-door version joined it in 1977.

Australian Jeep fans finally had the chance to sample the J-series Cherokee new from 1979 to 1985.

The marque became part of the Chrysler group in 1987 and made a successful local comeback in 1994 with the XJ-series Cherokee.

The 1990s Cherokee jumped on the burgeoning compact 4WD buyer bandwagon and opened the doors for other Chrysler-based models like the Voyager MPV and Neon small car.

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