1982 Jeep Cherokee Laredo Wide Track 5.9L V8, from North America


An SUV like none other before or since


What was wrong with the vehicle:

The paint was very faded and had some sun damage.

The Tailgate was filled full of pine needles and had small a rust hole.

Changed ball joints.

Some minor cosmetic damage on the interior.

Has an engine oil leak.

General Comments:

My Jeep Cherokee Laredo came with a 5.9L V8 (2 barrel, single exhaust) and an automatic transmission. The transfer case is part time shift-on-the fly and it has manual locking hubs. It came with posi-track in the rear differential and 31"X10.50 rubber at all corners. It has tilt steering, cruise control and air conditioning. There were a couple of different models of Cherokee in the late '70s an early '80s; mine is a two door wide track with wide wheel flares.

With the exception of the rust hole in the tailgate, my Cherokee has a completely rust free body. The wheel well, floor pan and undercarriage still has factory paint and undercoat. I believe the paint faded because this vehicle came from Texas where the sun beats everything to death. I replaced and repainted the tailgate, greased the electric window gears in side. After a couple good wax jobs and a detail job this Cherokee looked pretty respectable.

This Cherokee does not burn oil, but does leak some. All the drive line components are original and still in great shape. With regular maintenance it should go another 250 000 miles!

I have come to appreciate several things about the original Cherokee that you just can't buy anywhere else, old or new. The body is not jacked way up in the air like most other SUVs, so you won't need an extension ladder to get in. At the same time it has at least as much if not more minimum ground clearance as those other SUVs - 9.0" to be exact. The low stance not only makes this Jeep easy to get in, and load cargo, it is also incredibly stable on road. I have raced several other SUVs on windy roads and nobody can even come close to keeping up. One time a Toyota 4x4 was up on 2 wheels in a corner and nearly flipped trying to follow me as we competed. I feel the Cherokee's stability makes it safer than other SUVs especially in situations that could cause a vehicle to roll.

Riding in the Cherokee is like riding in a car. It is extremely comfortable. I find it to be as quiet as most modern cars and nearly as smooth. The seats fit me very well and I able to drive for 5 hours straight yet never feel uncomfortable or sore.

Actually driving the Cherokee is effortless due in part to the stability mentioned before, but also because the forward and side visibility is very good. Furthermore, it is the sharpest turning vehicle of its size I have ever seen. Acceleration is very respectable and would likely be phenomenal if the engine was upgraded to a four barrel and 3" exhaust rather than 2" as it has now.

Fuel economy is very respectable for a vehicle this size and weight. At 60 mph I get between 22 to 25 miles per gallon. I might at that some of the other Cherokee owners tend to get poorer fuel economy and I attribute my success to using synthetic oil through the entire vehicle and keeping it tune.

I have gone off-road some with the Cherokee and found it to be quite good. Since it does have good ground clearance and decent tires it is good in deep snow and even mud. If you are used to a wrangler, which is on of the very best off road vehicles, you may be disappointed with the Cherokee's departure angle. However, it still has one of the best approach and departure angles in its class.

One incredibly practical aspects of the Cherokee for the outdoors man is the pop-out back seat. Once removed the back seat opens up a large space that works very well for sleeping. I'm 6'2" and I am completely warm and comfortable there at night compared to a cool, noisy, some times wet, tent.

Overall, I must say this Cherokee has treated me very well. I wish Chrysler would build something like it again.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th October, 2002

28th Jul 2014, 20:07

I know this is a very old review, but after being on all of the big Jeep forums... NO ONE, not even the carb tuning gurus, can get anywhere near the MPG this owner claims. It's not possible in a stock or near stock Full Size Jeep (FSJ). The 360ci engines drink the gas... 3 speed automatics... either a 3.07 or 3.54 rear gear and brick-like aerodynamics won't give that kind of mileage.

I love that he loves his Cherokee; I want one myself! (though I do have 2 Grand Wagoneers). Just wanted to FYI any potential buyers of this vehicle not to be disillusioned about the MPG feature.

28th Jul 2014, 20:08

FYI 2:

The inline six cylinder that was offered this year with a 5 speed manual tranny could get the MPG he claimed BTW.