2001 Cherokee New Car Test Drive
Here we go again. After that remark we made last year, the one about Jeep selling Cherokees until we are old and gray, it now appears that the Cherokee's life span will continue for awhile longer. Due to 'overwhelming customer demand,' the Jeep people now tell us, 'Cherokee production is extended past the original November 2000 close.' We've heard this before. The Grand Cherokee was supposed to replace the Cherokee, but due to the demand for this solid, inexpensive SUV, they kept making them. Now, they're coming out with another, smaller SUV that is supposed to replace the Cherokee. But people keep buying them.
So there is going to be a 2001 model, but after that, who knows? Jeep is eager to introduce newer, more modern, more aerodynamic products, such as the upcoming Liberty. You might want to wait and see what develops. Or you might want to buy a classic while you still can.
The four-cylinder Cherokee is already gone, which partially explains this year's significantly higher base price. All 2001 Cherokees will be powered by a 4.0-liter, overhead-valve inline-6. This is the same engine that was re-designed last year for 50-state LEV (low-emissions vehicle) certification.
Cherokee is a case study in how long a solid design can remain viable. Introduced in 1984, Cherokee helped launch America into its amazing romance with sport-utility vehicles. Cherokees sprouted in suburban driveways like mushrooms. And its popularity continues. Jeep sold more than 140,000 Cherokees last year. And why not? Cherokee is still tough as nails, reasonably inexpensive and, in four-wheel-drive guise, thoroughly capable when the pavement ends.
More than that, its flat-planed, square-edged styling resonates with all the richness of Jeep history.
The Cherokee model lineup has been simplified for 2001. Yet, even without the four-cylinder and a couple of trim levels, Cherokee still offers buyers some choices. Two-door and four-door bodies are available, either with rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. Two-doors come in only one trim level, called Sport, and list for $19,370 with two-wheel drive and $20,880 with four-wheel drive. Four-doors are offered in Sport or more up-market Limited trim. A four-door, four-wheel-drive Limited starts at $23,385.
Sport models are fairly basic, with power steering, power brakes, full carpeting, four-speaker AM/FM/cassette stereo, a clock and tachometer, variable intermittent wipers and a five-speed manual transmission. Limiteds technically add only a luggage rack, power mirrors, upgraded seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear wiper, four-speed automatic transmission and an upgrade from 15-inch steel to 16-inch aluminum wheels.
But a $945 'quick-order package' adds the automatic transmission, plus air conditioning; tilt-wheel; time-delayed headlights; remote keyless entry; power locks, windows and mirrors; luggage rack and other niceties to the Cherokee Sport. An almost identical package is required on Limited, but due to manufacturer-to-dealer discounts it is currently listed as a no-cost option as well as a mandatory one.
Automatic transmission and air conditioning can also be ordered as stand-alone options, for $945 and $850, respectively. Leather upholstery is available for $1,190, a seriously off-road 'Up-Country' suspension for $725-$845 (depending on model), and a Trailer Tow Group $245 or $365, again depending on the model. The bottom line is that you can order just about anything you want on your Cherokee, but you'll probably have to order it a la carte.