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Tegan and I were discussing how we wanted to see the world one day. Not the places you can get to by a paved road, but the places you can reach with a four wheel drive vehicle. Old mining towns, natural landforms not seen by the typical tourist’s eyes, and good memories are just a couple reasons to pursue such an act. After much research, searching, and more searching, we decided on a Jeep Cherokee as our expedition vehicle to carry out this activity. Why a Cherokee? Well, let me tell you.
The Jeep XJ (Cherokee) has been built since the 80’s, and has been a very successful vehicle for nearly 20 years after, with little change to the initial design. Sure, we considered other makes and models, such as varieties of Land Rovers, Toyotas, as well as older Mitsubishi and Isuzu off road vehicles. We decided against the others for various reasons. The Cherokee is a good platform from the factory, with solid front axles front and back, bulletproof Jeep 4.0 inline 6 motor, with a decent transmission and transfercase. It’s small enough to fit in tight spots, should we come upon an obstacle that would require a smaller vehicle in order to pass. Since the Cherokee has been manufactured for so long, parts are plentiful. It’s difficult to go to a junkyard and NOT see one of them around, if not multiples.
Sure, the Cherokee has its fallbacks, as with any vehicle. It’s got a unibody “frame”, the axles can be weak in certain configurations, and it doesn’t have as much cargo as other vehicles we considered. However, they’re cheaper than the others, and with a little modification, most of these issues can be resolved. Plus, being that this is a Turtle Laboratories test rig, it’s got to be upgraded anyway!
The Cherokee appears to be making a comeback now as a capable off road rig that is getting cheaper to purchase by the day. As a result, there is more need for aftermarket support as well. Be expecting a variety of Turtle Lab products to improve your Cherokee as well!