What's New for 1999
The Cherokee Sport gets a revised front fascia including body-colored grille and bumpers. New exterior colors include Forest Green and Desert Sand, to match the most common Cherokee surroundings.
Some things never change, and the Jeep Cherokee is one of those mainstays. Unlike its posh-and bigger-Grand Cherokee brother, which keeps adding comforts and graceful touches, the ever-practical, affordable Cherokee simply keeps on rolling, looking little different now than when it was first introduced in 1984.
Utilitarian and upright it is, but with a compelling personality that even the Grand Cherokee lacks. Four adults fit inside the Cherokee in reasonable comfort, with adequate headroom. Rear legroom is lacking, due to a short seat, and a narrow door constricts entry to the rear. Worth noting is the fact that the rear bench folds but doesn't offer a split, meaning you can't haul a toddler and a treadmill simultaneously.
Relatively comfortable on the road, the compact Cherokee is capable of strutting its stuff when the going gets rough. Acceleration is brisk with the 4.0-liter, inline six-cylinder engine, courtesy of 190 horsepower and 225 foot-pounds of torque. We highly recommend this upgrade if you select the SE model, which comes with a measly 2.5-liter four-cylinder that pumps out 65 fewer horses. The Cherokee's 4.0-liter engine puts the sport into sport utility.
The Cherokee is offered in three trim levels: SE, Sport and Classic. SE and Sport models can have two or four doors, while the step-up Classic edition is four-door only. All are available with either two- or four-wheel drive. Command-Trac part-time four-wheel drive allows shift-on-the-fly operation. Selec-Trac is Jeep's full-time four-wheel drive system, and is not available on the SE. A Limited package on the Classic offers upgrades to Selec-Trac, leather seats, an overhead console, power accessories and Limited badging.
Standard gear includes power steering, tinted glass and power front disc brakes. Four-wheel antilock braking is optional (six-cylinder only), as are power windows and door locks, keyless entry system, cruise control, air conditioning and leather seats. Seat heaters are available for the first time this year on the Limited package.
Despite its age, the compact Jeep sport-utility remains a sensible choice in its field, more capable than most SUVs of heading into the woods at a moment's notice. What more can anyone ask of a moderately priced on/off-roader?