When Jeeps didn't need a badge that said "Trail Rated."
Before automakers were forced to actually do something about lowering fuel emissions, SUVs were one of the best ways to make money, and lots of it. Ford made a bundle with its Explorer and Jeep enjoyed record profits thanks to its original Cherokee and later the Grand Cherokee. But back to the Cherokee. No, we’re not talking about today’s reborn Cherokee with that goofy ass front-end and Fiat platform that’s doing its best to pretend to be an SUV (it’s not).
What we happen to dearly miss is the Cherokee of our youth, the one built from 1984 until 2001. It was a simple, compact SUV that needed no "Trail Rated" badge. And yes, it could handle off-road duties like a champ. It did everything it was designed to do well, and became an icon as a result.