The January, 2000 print issue of Motor Trend has a special section featuring next-generation sport cars, pickups, and SUVs. Here's what they had to say about the 2001 Cherokee:
On the 1997 auto show circuit, the then Chrysler Corporation unveiled a concept vehicle called the Dakar. Somewhat more reminiscent of a Land Rover than a Jeep, it appeard ready to traverse the deserts of North Africa or the rain forests of South America with equal ease. At that time, Chrysler hinted that the Dakar could be a four-door Wrangler in the future. Instead, the now DaimlerChrysler company plans to borrow Dakar styling cues for its next-generation Jeep Cherokee, schuduled to debut in January 2001.
Among the most prominent shared visual aspects of the Dakar and new Cherokee will be their overall profiles. The next-generation Cherokee promises to be significantly taller than the current model (last restyled for '97), perhaps by up to 10 inches. Its front-end detailing also displays much of the flavor of the boldly contoured Dakar's nose and lighting treatment. Round headlamps will dominate the front fascia - a pair on either side of the grille. The air inlet will contintue to be quite prominent and retain Jeep's classic vertical bars-and-slots motif.
Overall, the 2001 Cherokee should embody the same types of subtle styling changes as wrought on the Grand Cherokee, moving from a fairly boxy shape to a more rounded character. Unlike the Grand Cherokee, which relocated its spare tire from inside the cargo bar to an under-floor position, it appears likely that the new Cherokee will maximize its internal storage by mounting its full-size spare externally on the back gate.
Underhood changes are also due for the next-generation Cherokee. Expect the new top motivator to be an aluminium 3.7-liter SOHC V-6 of 180-190 horsepower, derived from the slick 4.7-liter/235 horse V-8 of the Grand Cherokee. Although it'll replace the veteran 4.0-liter/190-horse OHV I-6 used currently, the workhorse 2.5-liter/125-horse pushrod four-cyliner is likely to carry over as the base Cherokee engine.
The Motor Trend website also has a special future vehicle section where they have this to say about the 2001 Cherokee:
A soft-edged Cherokee has been spied testing recently. The first all-new Cherokee since 1984 (no typo!), the new sport/ute is expected to be powered by refined versions of the current 2.5- and 4.0-liter powerplants. It will be assembled at the Toledo, Ohio, plant beginning in January 2001.
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