1997 Jeep Cherokee Review

Pros & Cons

  • Cheap and loaded with rugged character, dual airbags, optional ABS, optional full-time 4WD, optional 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine
  • Rugged character result of ancient engineering, uncomfortable rear seat folds but doesn't split
List Price Estimate
$502 - $1,012

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Some things never change much, 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 it did a dozen years ago. This year, however, the Cherokee benefits from some overdue updates, including a new interior with dramatically improved instrumentation.

Utilitarian and upright it is, but with a compelling personality that even the Grand Cherokee lacks. Cherokee's squared-off edges are a bit rounder for 1997, with revised styling front and rear. Inside, the new interior includes dual airbags, new controls and displays, and a new climate control system that improves air flow and reduces interior noise. Fresh door trim panels, illuminated power mirror and power window switches, and a revised floor console round out the major interior changes. Four adults fit inside the Cherokee in reasonable comfort, with fine head room. Rear leg room is lacking, in a very short seat, and entry to the rear is constricted by a narrow door. 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 refined 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 we highly recommend this upgrade if you select the SE model. With the 4.0-liter engine, the Cherokee puts the "sport" into sport utility.

SE and Sport models can have two or four doors, while the step-up Country 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. Standard gear includes power steering, tinted glass, and power front disc brakes. Four-wheel anti-lock braking is optional (six-cylinder only), as are power windows and door locks, keyless entry system, cruise control, air conditioning, and leather seats.

Other refinements for 1997 include new wiring designed to reduce complexity and improve reliability. The rear liftgate is now stamped from steel and features hidden hinges. This new design is lighter and easier to operate, with a new exterior handle and interior pull-down strap. Bumper end caps and side moldings are better integrated into the Cherokee's design, and front windows are ventless for improved visibility. Larger exterior mirrors make it easier to see out of the Cherokee, while new door seals battle to keep dust and noise from filtering into the cabin. Finally, new robotic spray equipment at the factory makes metallic paint colors look better.

Despite its age, the original compact Jeep sport utility remains a sensible choice in its field, more capable than most of heading into the woods at a moment's notice. What more can anyone ask of a moderately-priced on/off-roader?

1997 Highlights

A new interior sporting modern instrumentation debuts. Front and rear styling is refined, and the rear liftgate is now stamped from steel. Multiplex wiring is designed to improve reliability of the electrical system, while a new paint process aims to polish the finish of all Cherokees.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Jeep Cherokee.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

OIIIIO thrills
OIIIIO driver,11/25/2010
I have a 93 indestructible Cherokee. I just bought this 97 Cherokee, with 245K miles on it. Paid $1500 for him. My 93 is a standard this 97 is an automatic. IF you can find one get one. I easily expect to get 300 K out of this Jeep. I have 2 new cars a 4runner and a Pontiac, but would rather drive my 97 Jeep any day than these due to the fact "he" is solid as a rock. If the powers that be ever read these blogs , they would re invent these Jeeps, and would have a new following, I love mine and dread the day (if ever) I get rid of it.
I LOVE THIS THING!
bradthecarman,02/23/2012
I'm completely in love with my cherokee. I have over 260k miles on it, all ive really had to do is preventative care and regular maintance. Its one of the best values I've ever seen. I wish I would of bought two. It is without a doubt one of the best daily drivers out there.
The Jeep Thing
Jeep_Florida,02/25/2010
I bought it in 2008 and has 112k miles and i`m tge 2nd owner,never used 4 off- road,4.0,4x4,5 speed(oh yeah i want to change gear when i want to),MPG- 19 city,24 highway at 70 mph,20 towing a u- haul tralier.Never had any major repairs i replaced the shocks,breaks,all fluids,wiper blades,installed a cd player and also new speakers with amp all on weekends...grab a beer and save money doing that 4 fun.Easy to work on,fun to drive,to park,lot of space inside,best suv for the money.If u want to save money on gas ride a bicycle...want a smooth ride buy a BMW,but the JEEP is the way to go everywhere.
Fun on the road
Greggg,05/02/2002
The Jeep Cherokee combines a very functional SUV with an attractive car. It's simple styling is timeless. Durability is outstanding with the truck suspension(not a fluff SUV wannabee). The ground clearance is great. So far, I've had no problems with the Cherokee and use it for everyday driving and hauling an 18" pleasure boat.

Features & Specs

See all Used 1997 Jeep Cherokee features & specs

Safety

IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Marginal

More about the 1997 Jeep Cherokee

Used 1997 Jeep Cherokee Overview

The Used 1997 Jeep Cherokee is offered in the following submodels: Cherokee SUV. Available styles include SE 4dr SUV, SE 2dr SUV, SE 2dr SUV 4WD, Sport 4dr SUV 4WD, Sport 4dr SUV, SE 4dr SUV 4WD, Sport 2dr SUV 4WD, Country 4dr SUV 4WD, Country 4dr SUV, and Sport 2dr SUV.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Jeep Cherokee?

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Which used 1997 Jeep Cherokees are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 Jeep Cherokee?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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Check out Jeep Cherokee lease specials