The Jeep Cherokee has gone through five generations, but it’s surely the second-generation Cherokee that sticks in everyone’s mind.
This is the one with the chunky, boxy styling that managed to look both tough and cool at the same time.
It was a million miles from its predecessor. The original Cherokee was a heavy, growling V8 (there was an ‘entry-level’ in-line six) with styling straight from the sixties, but its replacement came with a lighter, modern unibody construction and some more sensible power units for a post-oil-crisis America.
Having said that, the smaller engine options weren’t especially tempting, and Cherokee fans would probably opt for the 2.8-litre of 4-litre petrol motors. Not so frugal, but more in keeping with the Jeep’s muscular image.
The rectangular styling must have looked conservative, even in its day, but while some designs of the time dated faster than a paisley shirt, the Cherokee’s shape has almost become an icon for the tough but stylish off-roader. Even now, it combines on-road presence with everyday practicality that’s quite hard to pull off.
We’re not the only ones to think so. The second-generation Jeep Cherokee stayed in production from 1984 to 1998 – fourteen years. It’s been made all over the world, from the USA to China, Venezuela, Argentina and Egypt.
In 2001 Jeep bowed to the inevitable and launched a new model, but with a more rounded profile and a somewhat cartoonish look to the front, and followed up in 2008 with a fourth-generation model and in 2013 with a sleek and radical fifth-generation redesign a million miles from the second-generation Cherokee’s iconic utilitarian rectangles.