Jeep Confirms The Cherokee Is Not Dead Yet

Scoop / 5 Comments

The factory may be idled but the SUV appears to still have a future.

The production line of the current generation Jeep Cherokee may be idled at the Belvidere factory in Illinois but the model itself is not dead. A Jeep spokesperson told CarBuzz the following: "No, [the Cherokee] is not canceled. We have plans for that important vehicle in that important segment, which we will reveal in due time, but do not come to that conclusion."

However, all of the factory's 1,350 salaried and hourly workers are currently out of a job though efforts are being made to relocate some to other Stellantis plants, such as the Wrangler and Gladiator plant in Toledo, Ohio. In January, the Cherokee lost its V6 engine option for 2023, the first sign of things to come only weeks later.

The Cherokee name first arrived on the scene back in 1974 when it was a two-door SUV based on the highly successful Wagoneer. It didn't switch to the unibody platform until 1984 as one of now-defunct AMC's final models. Under Chrysler's ownership, the Cherokee continued to thrive and that generation, internally called XJ, remained on the market until 2001 after a 3 million-unit production run.

2019-2023 Jeep Cherokee Front Angle View Jeep
2019-2023 Jeep Cherokee Rear Angle View Jeep
2019-2023 Jeep Cherokee Sideward Vision Jeep

It was replaced by the Liberty the following year (which continued to be branded as 'Cherokee' overseas), though it failed to catch on with the public in the same manner as its predecessor.

Jeep came to its senses in 2014 when the third and current/outgoing generation debuted, once again called Cherokee. It sported controversial front-end styling, which has since been toned down, and rode on a Fiat-sourced front-wheel-drive platform. The latter came courtesy of the then newly-formed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). A number of Jeep-engineered four-wheel drive systems were made available because it is a Jeep, after all.

2019-2023 Jeep Cherokee Dashboard Jeep
2019-2023 Jeep Cherokee Infotainment System Jeep
2019-2023 Jeep Cherokee 4WD Controller Jeep

This Cherokee generation (codenamed KL), however, has seen a continued sales decrease over the past few years as the competition in the compact SUV/crossover segment has accelerated. Dogged with some past reliability issues, such as its nine-speed automatic transmission, the Cherokee seemed to fall out of favor with buyers, some of whom found themselves upgrading to the larger Grand Cherokee.

Controversy for Jeep came in 2021 when the Cherokee Nation requested for Jeep to drop the Cherokee nameplate once and for all. A future similarly-sized Jeep possibly may not be called Cherokee, but that's merely speculation on our part.

While we're sad to see the current Cherokee production line idled, we are looking forward to what Jeep has planned next and, hopefully, that vehicle (likely an EV) will be built at Belvidere.

2019-2023 Jeep Cherokee Badge Jeep
2019-2023 Jeep Cherokee Grill Jeep
2019-2023 Jeep Cherokee Badge Jeep

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2019-2023 Jeep Cherokee Front Angle View
2019-2023 Jeep Cherokee Grill
2019-2023 Jeep Cherokee Badge
2019-2023 Jeep Cherokee Badge
2019-2023 Jeep Cherokee Dashboard

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